War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

the ethics of writing (5)

they send me their words. I read them. sometimes I share them (but only with permission). sometimes I delete them. sometimes I keep them for when I shall be strong and brave enough to really read them.

I have received tens of thousands of words.

and sometimes there is too much truth in their words. then I protect them. like the Sgt. Major who orders his/her CO to go to bed. get some sleep.

I personally, have thousands of words that will never see the light of the page. there is too much truth in them.

one correspondent hit send to an email immediately regretted it. the message carried within those words shot like a tracer right into my In Box. when I thanked the person, they begged I never share it. I won’t. but I did in turn, beg the person to keep the words, print them out, seal them in an envelope, give them to the War Museum Archives only to be opened in 50 years. in 50 years, they will want to understand what the Afghan experience was for young Canadians.

and truth is always the dilemma of the artist. as is despair.

I’m reading David Lodge’s essay, Fact and Fiction in the Novel. I’m identifying with it. how many people have assumed there is a real M, one of the main characters in my May Day project? more than a few have assumed there’s a soldier in my life somewhere. and there is. or rather, thousands of them. and I’ve drawn little bits and pieces from them to create the fictional character. and try as I might, people don’t believe me when I say M doesn’t exist. but I am telling you loud and clear there is no M. there has never been an M. he is everyman. just as the young officer J is in my May Day. and S. I’d love to be her but I’m not. beautiful dancer.

they say good fiction holds more truth than non. who knows?

ultimately, my personal ethics of writing is to draw the truth without the specifics. and if someone recognizes themselves within, then I guess I’ve done a good job.

meanwhile, those who have sent me their vulnerable words. I will never betray you. this is a sacred trust for me.

I promise.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled the ethics of writing (5). It was posted here on October 27, 2010.

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