I wrote a short story, and now I’m afraid to publish it.
Not because the subject matter is risqué or difficult, or it’s no good. I think it’s a great piece; honest and true. And that’s the problem. It is too honest, too raw, and reading it over feels like dissecting a part of my heart and leaving it open for anyone to see.
Writing is often confessional, but this piece was not meant to be. I wrote it for a competition, and I missed the deadline, but anyway. I draw on lots of sources for characters and stories, both internal and external, in order to create something new from those bits and pieces. How could I be happy to send this off to be judged, but hesitate to post it on my own media?
The difference is anonymity.
It is too close to home, too close to uncomfortable truths. I usually bury those truths within the lie of fiction, but here they are all too visible to anyone who knows much about me. I’m not sure I can expose so much tender flesh.
The dilemma we face as artists is the need to be authentic, to bleed onto the page, while retaining emotional integrity. If we put all of our selves on the page, will there be anything left for us? Still, I feel that changing the particular details of this fictionalised tale would sap its emotional punch.
Perhaps the cloak of a pseudonym would give me the confidence to lay the personal bare. Yet another mask to wear online, trying to remember which bits of me hide behind which constructed façade.
I want my stories to be strong. But I don’t want to have to write them with my own blood.
And so this piece will sit on my hard drive for a while, till I can find a third way. Or until I find my courage.