In writing, there is a constant pull and push between narration and disclosure. Time and time again I find myself writing “fiction” that comes from something I myself or someone I know has experienced. This doesn’t mean that what I type into my laptop, under the guise of “current work in progress” is a direct rip-off of events in my life or in others’. Sometimes, it’s a single event that gets the creative ball rolling and by the time the story ends, it is a complete departure from what “actually” happened.
This blog, these essays, tend to be different. Here, I share observations and perceptions. And it is here where I try to strip away identifiers to shield the innocent (and not so innocent) from potential readers’ compliments (or critiques). I have spent a lot of extra time on certain essays to ensure that the reader, that is, you, have no idea whether I am referring to a man or a woman, an adult or a child.
I see my obligation, as a commentator on my own life experiences, to leave the other “players” in a place of non-identification. I know that I’ve been (usually) successful. For those who read these essays and think I’m referring to them, I might be. I might not.
Of course when I write “my spouse” or “my daughter,” I am directly identifying them, as I only have one of each. Even with my three boys, it’s usually clear which one I am referring to, even without identifying them specifically by name or age. (Side note: my family supports my writing and has never asked me to edit or change my words.)
I came across this quote, which is deemed a Spanish proverb:
At first glance, I thought, “That’s not how I see ‘discretion.’ It’s about not disclosing who specifically directed good/bad behavior toward me.”
But then, I read the quote over a few more times. (Proverbs tend to need more than a once over.) And now looking at it, I agree with its sentiment.
In “hiding” the exact identities of those who become part of my life and my reflections, I am admitting that there is (almost certainly) no changing (remedying) the character of the people and happening of the events which led me to sit down and comment in the first place.
Those times when I felt deeply honored to have had an enriching experience require discretion: those people may be discriminating in whom they include in their sphere of care. Those times when I felt deeply offended to have had a depleting experience require discretion: those people may be pointedly aggressive and unkind to just a select few, myself among them.
Neither group (the caretakers or the offenders) need to be forever regarded as an “x” sort of person just because I had one interaction with him/her that led me to come to an “x” sort of conclusion about the caretaker/offender.
You see, I simply don’t think that people are stagnant. And the main motivator for that is my belief that I am forever evolving through thinking and experiencing my world around me.
That woman who offended me? She could some day be my friend.
That man who took care of me? He may some day betray me.
So it is paramount that I exercise discretion here.
The novels? Well that’s only fiction