Monday, January 17, 2011


Every time you write about secrets, you discover a secret about yourself that you had managed to keep secret.  Either that, or you have manufactured a secret since the time of last writing, a positive sign, you reckon, because it means many dimensions of the process are still growing.  You are not relying on old secrets, nor have you dressed any of the older ones up to seem more contemporary, more twenty-first century.

It is no secret to you that you are preoccupied with secrets in general and a few of specific nature because, after all, you would like to be working on your novel, which has the word secret in its title--The Secret of Casa Jocasta.  In ordinary circumstances, you would be working on The Secret of Casa J. because there are so many other things due for you to work on and it is no secret to you that having distractions of an urgent nature is a splendid way to get you working on something you consider of high, gnawing interest to the point where you can visualize scenes playing out in high-nuance definition.

You are under the obligation to which you agreed:  you must have revisions done by the 24 of this month to end to your editor.  It is not that you need to be yanked back into a project you spent some years thinking about, writing, and revising.  Nor does your wish to be working on The Secret diminish your enthusiasm for the project to be called The Fiction Lover's Companion. Nor yet is it a secret that were the tables reversed and your editor on your case for a replay with more--or perhaps less--color of a chapter in Secrets, you would be wanting to scoot off somewhere for unfettered hours with The Companion.  These strategies and gambits are well known to you; there is no secrecy hanging about as squatters.

If you have become immersed in an inviting novel or short story, you are engaged by the characters and their plight, in particular the shadowy area between their desires, expectations, and tenacity.  The more quirky the characters, the greater their edge, the more fascinated you become, wondering what secrets lurk within, waiting the moment of dramatic combustion for them to explode into the story.  This has the effect on you of wanting to redefine yourself, make yourself more quirky than you already are, more goal oriented to more fanciful outcomes than you already own in fee simple; you want mortgages, tontines, mysterious alliances, unanticipated benefactors, even to the extent of Charles Dickens' Mr. Pip having the most unanticipated benefactor of all whom, in your more expansive moments in the classroom, you have equated with Dickens' concept not of a mere escaped convict but of Fate, itself.

But this is no secret, either.  It may be a secret to some, but this is one dimension of yourself you claim to know beyond secret cabal with the more conservative and prudent aspects of your component parts.  Your secret is that you have become less cloudy, your opacity in gradual retreat to the point where, by virtue of the pages you have read and the pages you have written, you have removed the mystery that is you.  But the secret is that although the mystery has been illuminated by the light of understanding shining through the landscapes you create, it is still opaque if not downright dense to you.  

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

This has little to do with what you wrote, other than what my free associative thinking assigns to it, but I heard a line in a show recently. "The difference between secrets and mysteries is that mysteries have no answers, for once you find the answer to a mystery, you find it was nothing more than a secret. So ordinary." That has nothing to do with the price of tea in China of course. But I felt it necessary to share anyway.