Monday, October 31, 2011

Can you Keep a Secret?

Writing is like flinging yourself on the psychiatrist's couch every day, digging deep and uncovering your view of the world. Sometimes until I write a certain situation for a character, I'm surprised at how I feel about it. How would someone's guilt over long ago events inform his or her behavior many years down the road? (something I mine with Ethan in Anastasia Forever -formerly Again and Again- the final of the Dreaming Anastasia trilogy. He's been haunted by lots of things but one in particular and the twists and turns all lead him on a particular path. I won't spoil it beyond that, but I hope you'll find it fascinating) This is thing about secrets -- very little stays secret forever, even if its trapped in the recesses of your own heart. Eventually things rise to the surface --- often to bite us in the ass!

In the book I'm working on right now, all of my main characters have secrets. And all of them will be impacted by the secrets of the others as well -- those things that we just don't or can't tell. I've been thinking about this a lot lately -- that no one can really ever know another person completely -- that there will always be some hidden secret layer that has not been exposed. In some ways that's a good thing -- those surprise centers are needed, even with those we love most. IMHO.

Of course there's a dark side to it too, which is what makes it so fun to write about. Right now the Madoff family -- Bernie's wife Ruth, a son, the daughter in law who was married to the son who recently took his own life --- have been on the talk show/news/interview circuit with a book (or maybe it's two books?) telling their side of the scandal. Essentially, they are professing that they had no idea what Bernie was up to, had no idea the thousands of lives he was ruining by his investment scheme.

I keep wondering about this, both personally and as I write --- could you live with someone so close and intimately and not know that he/she was intrinsically dishonest on such a large scale way? My husband says yes -- he believes that a spouse could be unaware. We live our lives, do what we have to do, get caught up on our own myriad of details and yes, he says, it could happen. (let me interject here that these are those moments where husband kicks himself for ever getting into these chats with me... cause then I was like, "Hey! Do you have a secret? Huh? Huh? Huh?")

But I think I agree with him. I think... well, I think you just never know. You think you know. You hope you know. But you could be wrong. At least the part of me that crafts novels believes this. That we aspire to be better than that, but sometimes people just aren't. Not me of course! Not the man whose birthday cake I will be baking later today, the one who always buys me my special purple and green grading pens at the beginning of each school year and was seriously bummed that I was working from home this year and thus not in need of my special bag of back to school prizes! But other people... lots of people.... characters I create in my head... They've got secrets.

So what do you think? Could the people we know best keep dark secrets from us?

Happy Halloween! Beware the zombie apocalypse!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your husband. I find that there is a constant tension between a person's willingness to reveal themselves randomly and the other person's desire to ask questions. If there is no one to ask questions, and the other person doesn't randomly volunteer that person's inner self, then there can be A LOT of things one doesn't know about the other. While I am not married, I have had many a roommate, and this is always the case. I'm the one that lives in my head and doesn't randomly offer information, and my roommates consistently have not been "diggers." Even my sister and I can have this dynamic. So while I think my friends' collective knowledge about me gets super close to knowing me completely, any one person is basically clueless.