Are you a secret keeper or revealer?
Are you transparent waters or a deep well?
I’ve always been more of the deep well type. I love helping other people, listening to their problems, and hearing their stories, but I’m not so inclined to tell my own. I do if there’s silence, a need for someone to take charge and fill the void, but I’d rather listen and watch.
Those are natural qualities of a writer. We like to see it all before we discuss it and make sure we’ve capture each nuance before we try to share. Sometimes this is a hangup – it can make us shy and withdrawn. I was terribly shy until seventh grade, and then over the years I started doing theatre, and writing for the school newspaper, playing volleyball, joining student council, working at a grocery store, and on until I got much better at holding small conversations and drawing people out…but then I still defaulted to listening.
Often it’s because I’m slightly afraid. I love you and your stories and find you fascinating, but you might not find me that way. You might not like what I have to say, and I’d rather have you like me and not know everything, then know everything and walk away. And if you are one of those few people who I’ve trusted with everything, and at some point you walk away, that’s the deepest kind of betrayal and I never recover from that.
Some people say if you’re happy all the time you’re not being genuine. I disagree. Because almost all of the time I love my life, and the world, and the people in it. They surprise and delight me, intrigue me, captivate me. It’s why I write – because I love. And that’s the real me, who you must see and accept because it’s who I am. But I am also, at times, afraid, or lonely, or frustrated or furious or neurotic or just strange, and whether or not I choose to share it with you, that’s still part of who I am as well.
There’s a fine line we walk as writers, between vulnerability and going too far. To tell real stories we must be honest and face every bit of darkness inside ourselves, or we would only do ourselves a disservice. But it’s also wise not to give too much away, and reserve some precious truths close to your heart, just for you. This may be because you don’t want to hurt anyone, or because you’re still afraid, or because you are simply a private person. It’s not disingenuous to let some things be that way.
The truths we choose to hide and those we choose to reveal tell a great deal about us, for better or worse. The things we let into the sunshine – and how much we dwell in that sunshine – shape us and represent us. The things our characters share and keep close do the same. The only thing you need to do, dear writing friend, is be comfortable with who you are…including how much of a sharer you are and how. Some people lay it all out. Some people guard it carefully. Friendship, camaraderie between writers, between characters, and between people, is accepting either one without judgement or criticism. You be you and I’ll be me and we’ll go on this adventure together, without expectations and full of dreams.