Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Secrets and Bigger Secrets

The only way to keep a secret is not to tell anyone. So, when someone asks if I can keep a secret, I say that I can. This is the truth. The problem is that the person asking me the question clearly cannot keep a secret, but you try telling them that!

Is it strange, I wonder, to expect a writer to keep a secret? Writers are not... I don’t know... spies. It doesn’t feel as if this skill should necessarily be part of a writer’s life, and yet it seems that it is.
Then there’s the whole process of alluding to a secret. When I’ve got secrets, and all of my secrets actually belong to other people, I generally just forget about them. I’m reminded of them, of course, if something happens to come up that is about secrets or about the secret or even, as it were, secret-adjacent, but I do not bring the subject up.
Writers are sometimes expected to keep secrets that they must also talk about. I wonder how that’s supposed to work, and I wonder whether it’s a good idea.
Some publishers ask their authors to keep certain things under their hats, but those things are often directly related to their actual everyday work, so, does that mean they can’t talk about their days at all? Or does it mean that they must talk about them, but be somehow elusive? Some publishers even go so far as to have their authors sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreements (NDA).
What does the audience want to know about all of this? What does it want to be told? When? And by whom?
I do not know the answers to any of these questions. 
As a reader, I think I’d soon become bored with a whole procession of blogs and press releases that are clearly designed to hype me up, but which never give me any new information. “I’m working on something, but I can’t tell you what it is.”, followed by, “I’m halfway through that project I’m not allowed to talk about, and I’m having a blast with it.”, followed by, “You’ll never guess what I’ve done in that project I’m not allowed to talk about. It’ll blow your mind!”, followed by “I’ve finished that project I’m not allowed to talk about, and the guys in the office LOVE it!”
I wonder if it’s all too much effort for too little return.
And... You know what? Yep... you got it... a gofer in the office always sees something he shouldn’t and leaks this shit anyway.
Go figure.
On the other hand, I’m all for ramping up expectation, I’m all for teasing the audience, except when I am the audience, of course.

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought of secrets as something only one person knows. after all, not much of a secret if you've told someone, anyone. then it's more insider knowledge than anything imho.

    I (would like to think I) know what you mean about keeping secrets that you have to write or talk about (or more likely, dance around in a literary fashion). luckily, we've got plenty of tools and tricks though, in particular the art of misdirection ...

    on an altogether unrelated point, I don't think I've seen you use the word "shit" in your blog yet (but I've been wrong before, and sometimes that's a good thing!).

    so good ... er, shit :D