I had a conversation last week about my writing. A colleague asked how things were going. I had to confess my writing had all but ground to a halt. He wasn’t unsympathetic. He has aspirations to be an actor but has shelved his ambitions to put money in his pocket; “needs must when the devil drives” is the way he put it.
I’ve had the same conversation several time over the last few months and always find myself squirming, telling half truths to explain my lack of output. The stock responses that explain “I’ve been busy with this” or “I’ve had that going on” invariably feel like excuses, probably because they are. I never tell the truth about what has got in the way of me writing. I don’t lie to people. I just don’t tell them what’s happened. I’m pathologically uncomfortable revealing the things I consider private.
I am aware this runs counter to the zeitgeist. The world is awash with people willing to expose the most intimate parts of their private life to public scrutiny. I don’t know how or why they do this? My gut reaction is to maintain a wall of silence. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Something of the unreconstructed “man” in me; the stoic, boys don’t cry, men just get on with it attitude taught to me by by the generations that preceded me.
It could just be that I don’t want the reaction that comes when you tell people “my partner had a miscarriage” or “my dad died”. Privacy could be my way of coping, of staying in control of some very stressful events. There’s definitely an element of self-preservation being employed.
I want to see people as caring and generous individuals but I have a view of human nature that sees people use the information you give them to their advantage. It’s not a charitable understanding of the world but one taught by experience. When push comes to shove people will do what’s best for them and if details of your private life help them get what they want, they’ll use it.
Reading back over this post I realise I have revealed more than usual, more than I’m comfortable with. I now have to ask myself, what now; to post or not to post?