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Would You Listen?

A lot of my favourite scenes from the first draft of Apart at the Seams ended up on the cutting room floor.  I mean, whole characters ended up on the cutting room floor, so it’s no surprise that scenes ended up there too.  I know Arthur Quiller-Couch gave the oft-quoted writing advice to kill your darlings, and I certainly follow it in my own work.  I killed those scenes and characters for the greater good of the book.

But Quiller-Couch said nothing about digging up their corpses and throwing them up as a blog post from time to time.  So… welcome to the skeletal remains of my darlings.

[Edited down a bit to take out the incredibly witty and astute tangential ideas that this… darling… contained.  Opinions may entirely be my own.]

“Telling the truth doesn’t take balls. Hearing the truth takes balls,” Paul tells me.  “So the situation we were debating was that you were alone in the house of someone you love deeply. It could be your house or your friend’s house or your parent’s house; your choice. You’re looking for something like a roll of Scotch tape, and you find a disc marked ‘Thoughts about…’ What is your name again?”

“Arianna,” I offer, taking the beer from Noah as he returns to his spot slightly behind me. I arrange my fingers on the label where his have recently been.

“So the disc says ‘Thoughts about Arianna.’ It’s clear from the way the disc is hidden that the person who made this disc – your loved one – never intended you to find this disc. So would you take it if you knew that it wouldn’t be missed? And moreover, would you listen to it?”

Before he’s finished the question, I am picturing Ethan’s handwriting scrawled across the disc. His messy lettering, the soft tip of his A, the excess of humps constructing the double Ns. What could he possibly say about me that could be more hurtful than describing me as an island with my arms figuratively rigid to keep everyone at bay? Or would he just harp on why he thinks I’m too scared to get married? Maybe it wouldn’t even be bad; it could be love poetry that he’s written about me, too shy to share it.

The conversation comes as a continuation of the truth serum dinner conversation that remained in the book.  If you’ve read the scene with Gwen, this comes later at the party when Arianna is speaking with Paul.  Who had a different job in the first version of this book.  Just in case you’re a little confused.

I love this idea (and that’s why it hurt so much to kill it, and why I need to dig up its rotting corpse and prop it up here): would you listen to a CD marked “Thoughts about [Fill-in-your-name-here]?”  Would you take it from the drawer if you knew you could get away with it?  Would you leave it behind since the person clearly doesn’t intend for you to listen to it by the way the disc is hidden?  Would you really want to know their honest, un-edited thoughts about you?  Remember, this is someone you love deeply: your parents, your sibling, your partner.

Well, would you?

By the way, Apart at the Seams continues to roll out in more places.  It’s in bookstores.  It’s online at Amazon in e-book and paperback.  It’s at Barnes and Noble in paperback, though not in Nook yet.  Still waiting for iBooks and Kobo.  But it is up on Goodreads if you want to mark it as being read… hint hint?

Apart at the Seams by Melissa Ford

16 comments

1 a { 07.01.14 at 8:28 am }

Yep. Always better to know the truth, in my opinion. Especially if it’s hurtful.

2 a.m.s. { 07.01.14 at 9:03 am }

What you are describing is just an electronic version of reading someone’s personal diary/journal. If you stumbled upon a notebook in a drawer that you could open up and flip through without the owner being any wiser, would you?

I admit I would suffer a bout of intense curiosity in both cases, but I would not violate the friendship. I know all too well the need to vent about people I care deeply about and that those feelings do nothing to negate the deeper feelings that led to the relationship in the first place. And, as always, I know how I would feel should I ever learn that someone had invaded my privacy in that way.

3 Ana { 07.01.14 at 10:29 am }

I’d like to say “no” because it WOULD be like reading someone’s diary, which definitely seems wrong. But, man, I’d be really really tempted. Once I read my sister’s diary when I was a teenager, so I know I am capable of it…

4 Catwoman73 { 07.01.14 at 12:01 pm }

I wouldn’t dream of violating that trust with a loved one, but would be more than wiling to listen if I had permission. I can’t imagine that anything that I heard would be a big surprise- I am acutely aware of my own shortcomings, and am my own worst critic.

5 Sharon { 07.01.14 at 1:08 pm }

I’d read it. But I am more than usually curious.

6 Mrs T (missohkay) { 07.01.14 at 3:23 pm }

I would not – but only out of fear of getting caught. If I knew I wouldn’t get caught, I would totally do it. 70% done with the book, by the way 🙂

7 knottedfingers { 07.01.14 at 4:10 pm }

I wouldn’t. It would make me feel uncomfortable

8 Mali { 07.01.14 at 7:29 pm }

I’d like to say “no” too. I’m sure that what I imagine others think about me is far worse than what I’d hear/read in a diary, for example. Whether I could … well, I don’t know. I think the guilt of betrayal (both ways) would be overwhelming, and would stop me.

And I like to make decisions also thinking about the other person too. If I had a file or disc marked “Thoughts about …” my husband or my family or my closest friends, I certainly wouldn’t want them to listen to it/read it. I think they know the good things I think about them. I hope they do. (Note to self: Make sure they do.) So any file or disc might include negative thoughts that they don’t know that I think. And I’d have created that disc in a moment of frustration, or perhaps as a means of reflection, as a way to help myself deal with these people. Because they’re people they love, and they don’t need to know everything that goes on in my head. If it was that important, I’d either have said something to them, or – if it outweighed the positives in our relationship – then we wouldn’t be close any more. But for me, the positive outweighs the negative. And some negatives just don’t need to be said. It achieves nothing.

Honesty is way over-rated. Dishonesty (little white lies for example) goes a long way to keeping us civilised!

9 Katherine A { 07.01.14 at 9:19 pm }

I’ve actually considered this, funny enough. One big deciding factor for me would be whether the person was alive or dead. Someone who is alive…well, if I’m that curious, I would probably admit that I found the disc and ask.

But if the person was dead? That changes things a bit.

If the person were someone I had what I perceived as a good relationship with, I would not read/listen to/open the disc. Because it’s too much of a risk, and I would rather keep all my happy memories. Besides, I can’t ask them for clarification, or what was going on when the disc was recorded. Maybe they recorded it in a moment of a particular emotion and then things changed.

But if I had a complicated relationship with that person that had some serious, painful open questions and that person is dead? I’d be very, very tempted and might even take the leap to opening the thing because in the situation I’m thinking of, I don’t think that anything said about me on the disc could hurt me further and might even help clear up some of those questions.

10 Queenie { 07.01.14 at 9:43 pm }

I’m currently reading the book, and loving it. It’s perfect pre-bedtime reading.

Nope, wouldn’t look at it. I recognize that sometimes people need to vent, and what may be on that disc represents one moment in time. Relationships live on a continuum. We both love people and loathe them at various points. What is there could be great, and it could be awful, but it represents just a speck, and who needs to live with what as captured in one moment in time? I’d much rathe rely on my own understanding of how the important people in my life feel about me all of the time. Plus, I respect their privacy. I think one of the (many) reasons I blog anonymously is because my husband read my diary when we were first dating. I still haven’t forgiven him. I need my own space, and I assume other people do, too.

11 tigger62077 { 07.02.14 at 12:32 am }

I think I might take the disc, but I don’t think I’d ever actually listen to it. I’d be too afraid. If it’s someone I love, do I really want to know their honest thoughts? What if they’re not good? That could damage the relationship. WOULD damage it. Yes, it’s good to have honesty in a relationship but I know that I don’t always like my husband, and I bet he doesn’t always like me. What if he recorded that disk during one of those times, in the way some of us blog? Do I really need to know that? No. I don’t.

12 Ellen { 07.02.14 at 4:09 am }

No. If they are not comfortable sharing something with me, there’s a reason. It’s not my reason, it’s their reason, that may or may not have anything to do with me. They get to decide when something like that needs to be shared or not.

13 deathstar { 07.02.14 at 10:53 am }

I try to stay away from writing about my relationship with my husband on my blog. Having said that, I’ve done it a few times and though it was certainly heartfelt, it was not necessarily complimentary. I wish he would have read it, he might have learned some things. So, yes, I would read it. I’d probably regret it, but I would read it.

14 Esperanza { 07.03.14 at 12:46 am }

I think a disc like that would probably say more about the person who recorded it than the subject of the recording. I don’t know if I would mindful enough to realize that though. 😉 I think ultimately I wouldn’t listen because I wouldn’t be able to not say something about it if I did. I would totally bring it up (eventually) and then the person would know I had done it. I’d probably bring it up and ask if I could listen to it though. And if the person were dead I would listen to it, absolutely.

15 Tiara { 07.03.14 at 9:34 am }

You can never un-know something & I think when it comes to people’s inner thoughts about me, ignorance is bliss. It’s interesting that most people seem to assume this disc would contain negative thoughts, yet like Arianna says, maybe it isn’t bad, maybe it’s love poetry.

16 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.04.14 at 3:07 pm }

I like what Esperanza says, and I would set some internal boundaries around that prior to listening — which I would probably do.

I think I would want to know that person’s truth, but I would also remind myself that their truth is an opinion. I would want to see if there is anything I may need to take a look at within myself.

There’s also a chance I would tell the person I found it and ask him/her to tell me what’s on it. And how they feel about me listening to it.

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