On Being a Hider
I think the reason I will always prefer writng fiction to person essay or memoir writing is simple: to write a good memoir piece, whether short or long, requires raw, often embarassing levels of honesty. In fact, allowing yourself to look bad, to be messy and pliant on the page is rather a necessity of the form, I think. Nobody cares if you're a saint, or have made a ton of great decisions--what people want is to be reminded that you are as damaged and nuts and silly and human as they are.
And who the hell wants to admit that?
Well, some great writers actually. I finally got myself to read Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir of her yearlong journey through Italy, India and Indonesia, Eat Pray Love--one of those books I walked the line on for so long purely because of its popularity (a stupid habit I've cultivated). And I really enjoyed it, far more than I expected--especially when she was baring the more vulnerable parts of herself or being self-deprecating. I wish I had this talent on the page. Apparently I'm the master of self-deprecation when I give a presentation, but that's to deflect from my nervousness.
And I don't mind making a fictional character appear weak or messy--in fact, I probably need to learn how to write stronger characters--ones who demonstrate more of the positive qualities on the scale of human experience. I guess you could say I'm a hider. I don't want you to see my shame and my weakness and my faults, but I suspect that if you read all of my unpublished novels, you'd know what they were anyway :)