Another story of mine is going to be published soon.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Let’s be clear – I’m delighted, thrilled…but when the email came through with the news, it confused me. The story is small, intimate, personal; in some way it feels like an invasion to know that it’s going to be seen by others. I must have wanted this to happen, or I wouldn’t have submitted the thing, and yet when it came to releasing these words and thoughts into the world I hesitated.
I wrote to the editor, asking for some time to address a couple of issues (not least a change of title!), but for the most part I was simply having to consider whether or not I was willing to share. It’s fiction, of course, but in fiction there are ‘truths’ of a sort – moments or mimics of ourselves, of those around us, of what we see and hear and feel. Should these not be kept private? Am I exploiting my imagination somehow?
Readers will often (wrongly) ascribe the actions and emotions of poetry to the poet, especially when the work is in the first person. We’re intelligent, sensible people, we know it’s narrative voice, an artificially created narrator relaying a constructed story, an impression of life, but something urges us to give the work more emotional resonance if we feel that we are being spoken to directly, about real events or feelings. It’s the same with prose too, and the first person narrator will be imagined to be the same voice of the author. So are we as readers giving inaccurate credence to writers’ works, or are writers hiding behind their fancy terms of overt diagesis and dialogics to make us think that what’s being read is made up?
We leave marks behind, whatever we do. Scars remain. If that comes out in our writing sometimes, consciously or not, then we can’t really complain. If we then choose to publish the work, to expose those scars – or the artificial, narrative creations partly driven by the memory of scarring – then we are choosing to risk readers creating the same misattributions and misrepresentations. Perhaps that’s why I stalled for so long – I wanted some form of ‘permission’, a rationale or acceptance that these things needed to be said out loud, that the intricacy and intimacy of writing the story, the communication within it, was worth saying. And if I’d wanted to say it only to myself then why did I submit it for publication? So, happily, here it comes.
I’ll post details of the where and when in a couple of weeks, when we’re nearer the event – or on twitter – @SimonJHolloway – so you can read the story and see if I’m abusing my imagination. Such endless worries…you’d have thought it would be easy just to make up a story or two…