I spent some hours yesterday talking to Kevin; a good two hours of that was talking about...ummm....privacy issues? I'm not quite sure how to categorize it, really. I had asked him if he could be clearer about how comfortable he was with me being public, in various ways, about him and his life (as it pertains to me, generally).
It was an interesting discussion. He's a very private person; if it were up to him, he'd probably make close to nothing about his life public. But he thinks I have a right to write about those parts of my life that he affects, even if it makes him uncomfortable. (E.g., we created the hypothetical situation of 'what if he had hit me?' Clearly, I'd have the right to write about it. And clearly, he wouldn't be very comfortable about that. But he wouldn't try to stop me...and that would pretty much apply to cases that were a lot less clear cut than that one).
He does worry when I attribute ideas or dialogue directly to him. Which is understandable because a) my memory is horrible, and I may well be mangling it, and b) I may have misunderstood him, or may not be explaining something clearly. And in these pages I have the space to surround any quotes with caveats -- 'take this with a grain of salt', etc. But I don't always -- in an interview, for instance, or an article.
The discussion got pretty involved, and actually most of it was an analysis of reader-response theory type stuff -- how much does the author control what the reader reads? How hard should the author be trying to control it? How useful/futile is the attempt? And what about the context surrounding the piece? Do the same standards apply?
We didn't end up in perfect agreement, but I did agree to do my best to take his feelings into account when writing about him (or writing pieces based on him). Which mostly means that I don't do it casually; that I have a good reason for revealing information that he might not reveal if left to his own devices. Which I mostly intended to do anyway, but I'm happy to have it clearer. And I figure if I'm really unclear on something, I can run it by him first. It would be a real nuisance to do that with everything.
Like this entry, for example. :-)
Caveat: The opinions expressed above may not actually be those of Kevin. I may have mangled them thoroughly in translation. Please make a note of it.