Lies I Never Told
Ed Griffin, author of the excellent novel, Prisoners of the Williwaw, (yep, you’re right, that was a plug for Ed’s book), teaches Creative Writing classes, and he’s a great teacher. I took one of his classes twice, and one of the reasons I did that was because of something he does midway through one of the sessions. In the middle of teaching, he’ll turn to the class and say, “Fiction is truth, write something down. Quick”.
That’s it. That’s all he says. Oh, there are always questions from the class but he ignores them, he just tells us to write something down. Some of the students look confused and don’t get it at first but after a while it sparks a discussion about whether there is truth in fiction and whether, as writers, we can be honest enough to reach inside and pull it out. I was thinking about Ed’s little exercise the other day. I had posted a short paragraph on my Facebook page and Jt Sather, another fine author, commented on my post and asked whether it was fiction or a confession that I’d posted. The section I shared on Facebook was from a collection of short stories that I released last year. The title of the book is Lies I Never Told-A Collection of Short Stories. Here’s what I posted:
It’s what we do. We make our own beds. We become thirty and then forty and we divorce and re-marry and visit our children on weekends, and work at jobs we never dreamt of doing, and have too many relationships with people we don’t like, and on the outside we look like any other forty year old hero. We’re not though, because it never goes away. No matter how hard we try to hide it, inside we’re still seventeen, sitting at the river, looking for the girl with the brown eyes.
Jt’s comment made me think. My first book, My Temporary Life contained lots of situations that did in fact happen and most of the characters in the book are based on people I knew, or in some cases, know. Readers asked me over and over again, how much of the story was factual. Well, I made up a lot of it. That’s what I do, and I’m allowed to, but all of the feelings are genuine. The emotions are real. And, it’s written in the first-person point of view, which makes it appear even more genuine, or honest. But, is it a confession? Are the lies I never told actually truths that really happened?
I forget who it was but an author once said, “If you want to truly know me, read my books”. That’s a very true statement. And, I’m not talking about the old “truth is stranger than fiction” adage. I mean the essence of someone can be found within the words. You just have to look hard enough. Some of them are obvious. Robert Bidinotto has a certain set of political beliefs and if you read his bestselling novel, Hunter (yep, another plug for another great writer), you’ll learn what his beliefs are. I believe my job as a fiction-writer is to record the moods and attitudes of the world, be a professional observer and turn them into stories. There’s truth in fiction and maybe Jt Sather is right, maybe some stories are confessions, maybe there are no lies. We just open up our insides and get it onto the paper (or kindle). My collection is called Lies I Never Told but then again, that’s probably not true. Maybe there are no lies after all.
Lies I Never Told is available from Amazon for $0.99.