Discreet. I like that word. In my mind I still partly live in my mother's world of short white gloves, hats and stockings, a world which was starting to crumble just as I was old enough to enter it.
I used to be very averse to exposing my private life to the world. That has changed since I began blogging, and I’m not sure why. For a long time I was embarrassed to let anyone know what I was really thinking. The Voice of The Fathers was VERY strong in me, condemning a lot of what I did and thought, and I’ve always half-agreed with them. Of course it wasn’t The Fathers, it was my father.
Now I write posts about fuck-me shoes and crude adolescent behavior on trains. I’m no longer embarrassed by my body - I''ve posted pictures of myself exercising in my underpants, and in a wetsuit like a fat black sausage. Below you’ll see me happily lumpy in a bathing suit. At 65 I believe I’ve earned my lumps.
A friend tells me that to write memoir effectively you must be fearless. But I am not fearless. I may seem to be baring my soul, or at least my past and my thighs, but I don’t write about my deepest sorrows or biggest regrets. I don’t write about the thoughts and deeds I’m most ashamed of, not for lack of material, but precisely because I am ashamed.
I am more careful now about other people’s privacy than about my own. When I write about friends or family I usually clear the piece with them. None of them has ever objected to anything I say, probably because I am still bound by ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’
I am particularly concerned about Amanda’s privacy. I keep her worries, fears, and misdemeanors to myself. I avoid writing much detail about her life, except the sunny innocuous parts.
I recently posted two pictures of Amanda as a toddler; you couldn't connect them to the nine-year-old she is now. I am leery of putting up contemporary pictures. I also have an ill-informed fear of the internet, and what might happen to a photo of her there, as though a stranger would track her down and harm her. I know there are real dangers to children on the internet, but I suspect the ones I fear are not real. Still, the Grandma in me yearns to share with the world the adorableness of this child. So at the end of this post I’ve put up a few more baby pictures.
In fiction I have always felt obliged to make up characters. I feel I'm cheating if I merely disguise someone I know. After I finished my third novel I wondered whether I would be a better writer if I were willing to go deeper inside myself. I created a character based on me, though the scenes and details were imaginary. But I found I loathed her.
I would not venture to defend any of these opinions, nor apply them to the work of other writers. Indeed, I don’t believe they rise to the level of opinion; instead, they remain in the warm, murky waters of feeling. They are mine, and I share them with you without any attempt to persuade.
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I'M GOING ON VACATION. NEXT POST: AUGUST 31.