Like pebbles

A couple of times per semester, I have to “workshop” in Creative Writing at uni. This basically involves everyone reading a thing I’ve written and then making comments. It’s something I enjoy, most weeks, and a lot of my stories have been a lot better for this process.
This week I decided to present a piece of non-fiction. I sat down and I wrote about when I stayed up all night for the first time. It’s a complicated memory and one that hasn’t gotten simpler by delving into it. I don’t really know why I decided to write about that night or why I decided that sending it to my Creative Writing class was the best thing to do once I had. I guess it’s been floating around in my head for a while and I just wanted to write it down.
Sitting in a classroom listening to people talk about this intimate memory was really weird. I don’t really have friends in that class but these people aren’t strangers. I know them a little, and they sort of know me. It wasn’t until I listened to their comments that I started to feel awkward. If we were to strike up a conversation, there’s no way I would have told any of those people about that night. I’ve hardly told anyone that story.
Suddenly I kind of wanted to take it back. Suddenly this memory, this moment, wasn’t really mine. People were relating to it, imposing things on it, making assumptions about the “characters” in it. What was already a fragile, glass-like memory was now covered in finger prints.
And yet I tell stories like this all the time. Every week, in fact, I bear my soul to that ultimate conglomeration of strangers we call “the internet”. Starting a blog is letting strangers into your life. I know that, of course I do, but I guess I don’t really think about it very often.
Some of the blogs I’ve written over the years have been deeply personal. You’ve been able to construct my life like a jigsaw from the parts that I give you. And by now there are an awful lot of parts. Literally anyone with an internet connection could trawl their way through the last two years. They could trace the rise and fall of relationships, friendships, endeavours and adventures. There are secrets badly hidden in the tags and hyperlinks. A lot of my memories belong to this blog, and in a weird kind of way, that means they belong to you.
I feel so comfortable doing this. There are invisible lines that I’ve drawn in the sand but they don’t mean much, not really. Sometimes the poetry of a moment strikes me and I want to write it down, no matter which side of that line it falls on. Maybe I should feel less comfortable. Maybe the idea of strangers reading my life story should worry me a little more than it does.
I remember reading once that a memory changes every time you recall it. Like pebbles being washed around in a rock pool, the edges are smoothed and the shape changes a little each time it grates against the rock.
If the simple act of remembering can do so much damage, then sharing a memory, giving it to a stranger, is bound to change it. And I kind of have to be okay when that happens.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year