Today, you and I are going to play a little game. If you’ll recall, I previously told you that the reason I am one of the best writers and strategists you’ve never heard of; that is because I work under the strictest of conditions. My NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) are absolute; all rights to authorship and/or intellectual property have been signed over in perpetuity. In other words, on paper, the work I’ve done officially belongs to another party. There is no getting around this; there is only violating my contracts for my 15 minutes of fame, and believe me, that is not worth the legal action I would be opening myself up to.
However, when you spend as much time writing documents and reading contracts as I have, you learn a few things—particularly when some of your clientele are high-powered attorneys. There is always a loophole; it could be a clerical error, it could be a precedent. You never know until you scrutinize. We’re also going to employ a little rudimentary pr (public relations) trick too, and spin this situation in our favor.
So, how do we circumvent our little dilemma? Easy; we’re going to play cards. First, we start by shuffling the deck. Then, we throw in a little three-card monte for good measure. Here’s my disclaimer: For every tale I tell you, no fewer than three (3) major facets of the story shall be shuffled. It could be a character’s gender, it could be the industry, it could be an individual’s vice, etc. The heart of the dialogue or project shall remain true, but the traceable details are going to be altered to respect the privacy of the individuals associated with these events.
This is important, because making a public spectacle of myself is as much about proving my capabilities as a strategist as it is getting back to my roots as a writer. My professional credibility will take a major hit if it seems like my integrity has an expiration date. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been trained by the old school, but here’s how I operate: When you take the money, you do the job you’re paid to do, and you keep your mouth shut!
I don’t mean that to sound as sinister as I know it must, but it’s true. You don’t renege on a promise you made just because it no longer suits you.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who work in industries where they are well aware that they are being paid for their discretion, and then they write some tacky tell-all. As a fellow writer, I get it; we all have our stories to tell, and there is a grey area. In my opinion, it’s important to tread lightly when your life’s story involves the stories of others—stories you may not be entitled to tell.
When you write your memoirs, understand that you cannot hide behind the veil of, “Well, I was just writing my story.” When you ‘allude’ to people, and that allusion is as thinly veiled as a “Just Asking” piece in “The New York Post,” do so with the understanding that you may be creating collateral damage. Think about that. Acknowledge that.
There was a dominatrix who published her memoirs recently; I read an excerpt, and she talked about a celebrity with a “megawatt smile…balancing his trademark sunglasses on [her] nose,” or something to that effect; she then proceeded to discuss his kinks. I can’t imagine this gentleman would have frequented this ‘dungeon’ if he ever thought this young woman was going to spill his secrets. After all, she was being paid for pleasure, ‘perversion,’ and most importantly, privacy. I digress…
Part of challenging myself is telling my story in a manner which benefits me, but does not harm anyone else. Personally, that’s how I need to conduct myself to feel like I will emerge from this with my integrity still intact. It’s not my place to name and shame people; at the same time, I deserve to tell my story my way. All of us do, and I guess in that aspect, playing this card game makes me a little more honest than most.
In life, very rarely do we get to experience an absolute truth—the perception of personal experience clouds everything. I can admit that I have no incentive to paint myself unfavorably; whoever would do such a thing? The difference between myself and other writers, is that I’m well aware of this fact. Here’s what it truly means to be a wordsmith with a silver tongue:
I am the storyteller, and the scribe. I am the liar, and the bringer of truth. I am a charlatan, and the most honest woman you will ever meet.
Now, follow the queen…if you can. As Steely Dan sang in their hit “Do It Again”:
"Your black cards can make you money so you hide them when you're able. In the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table."
Next time, we’ll kick things off in a major way—I’ll tell you the story of the time I went from rabbit heart to lion heart, and stood up to a financial firm.
-Hesper Rose, The Skulking Glamazon