Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Fiction is truth May 11, 2010

Biographies bore me. I don’t care how insightful a biographer is, no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s head. Autobiographies bore me, too, because we lie to ourselves even more than a biographer does. Here’s what I think the bottom line is: if you’re looking for truth, try fiction…. I’ve always believed that the lies we use to make our fictions reveal the truth with far more honesty than any history or herstory or life story. (Charles de Lint, Memory and Dreams, p. 186)

I love this book and over time here in the blog I’ll visit some of the many quotations I recorded. This Canadian fantasy writer has some brilliant observations.

When I was at a writing workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz last fall, she commented on how sometimes truth is too strange to make into a book. Think about that. She meant that truth really is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to be plausible. A reader will suspend belief just so far, and if an author pushes them too far past that, they dismiss it. Is this the ‘creative’ part of creative non-fiction? The population really can’t handle the truth. (This is too much cliché, isn’t it?)

Like de Lint intimates, fiction reveals truth. I know it. My novel is fiction. Mostly. It started as a true story, but then Grace shoved me out of the way and had her own story to tell. Grace’s biography isn’t my autobiography, but we do have a lot in common. There are lots of people who have read the manuscript and were able to recognize some of my secrets lurking between the pages. Some of the most bizarre moments on the pages are the truest, but you won’t believe it, so it’ll be okay.


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