It’s been a while between blog posts. I’ve been busy farewelling my first-born who has just moved away from home to start her life as a University student and discover who she really is. It’s true, isn’t it, that we only find ourselves when we leave our family and comfort zone and spend time finding out what makes us tick and what we truly want from life. But that’s a whole other issue I’ll save for another time.
I’ve been thinking lately about secrets. The wounds that fester away beneath the bandaged facade of our day-to-day lives, the things we fear but never talk about, the longings we share only with our deepest self. We all have secrets. The neighbours you wave hello to as you rush to school to collect the kids have them. The guy who winds down his window at you and yells abuse because he thinks you’re driving too slow – he has secrets. Even that best friend of yours, the one who tells you absolutely everything, has them too. Children have them, husbands have them, wives and girlfriends have them.
Secrets are the voices that whisper in our ears at night as we toss and turn and try to sleep. They’re the words that spill themselves onto our journal pages if we’re feeling brave. Sometimes they’re the final nail in the coffin of a relationship. Or the revelation that can heal a fractured one.
And of course secrets can be the cornerstone of fiction. So many stories are about the truth being uncovered, a character learning something about herself she never knew before – or didn’t want to admit, a partnership breaking down because one or both parties refuse to acknowledge or accept the truth. The protagonist in my current novel is hiding a guilty secret but when she returns to her hometown she is forced to face her past. Sometimes life creates situations that forces us into keeping secrets. In Foal’s Bread, by Gillian Mears, Noah and Roley find themselves crippled by more than the injury that damages Role’s leg. It’s the words they are too afraid to say, the feelings they can’t admit that tear apart their marriage. In Past the Shallows by Favel Parett, the world of three brothers Harry, Joe and Miles is destroyed by a terrible secret.
Everybody has secrets. We all tell lies. Big or small. To ourselves and to others. Maybe they’re the things we simply leave unsaid. Maybe they’re the backbone of our fiction.
How do secrets and lies feature in your writing? Have you used them as fodder for your fiction?