A few nights ago I was getting ready for bed and I had this wonderful thing I wanted to tell you about. I know it was brilliant because I wrote myself a little note of talking points.
I don’t know how much of this you can read, but the word “Amoeba” is definitely included.
Nonetheless, I think I can remember a little about what I wanted to say.
You see, I have been having a crisis of identity. (Some might call that an “identity crisis”, but I think that’s a little cliched. Plus, I’m feeling slightly dyslexic) I want to pursue fiction writing as a full-time career, but it is TOTALLY INSANE. I am re-evaluating why I want to do this as a living, and I am hoping the reason has nothing to do with being rich and famous.
What I think I caught upon the other night is that truth and reality are totally separate things that often have nothing to do with each other. I just finished reading “The Graveyard Book,” by Neil Gaiman, the special Newberry Award version. At the very end, there is a transcript of an interview that he did in regards to winning the award. He said: “Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.”
This is the reason why I have to be a writer. I know that I tell stories; that I tell funny, creepy, weird stories that are untrue. But I believe that stories are sometimes the most true things that humans have access to.
Think about it. There are people on this planet who believe that the world was made in 7 days, and that the only reason that dinosaurs are on the earth was because Noah needed a way to get to work.
It this a factual account? Who is to say that these people are right or wrong? Not me! I believe that there was a guy once who was perfect and it made people so mad that they killed him. And then he came back to life to save the universe.
Are either of these untrue stories? Well, I don’t know about the factual evidence of either one of them, but I know that the elements of truth are in them. Does sacrifice heal our wounds and bind us together? Yes. Is the power and glory of the unknown universe unfathomable to the human mind?Absolutely.
The point is, it is not the story itself that is the truth. Stories that are very true can be fictional. Tim O’Brien says in his book, “The Things They Carried,” that in order to tell a true war story, you just have to keep telling it.
“All you can do is tell it one more time, patiently, adding and subtracting, making up a few things to get at the real truth.”
I realized that I have to write because there are some very real truths that I can only teach through the use of one of the oldest mediums I know – the story.
There is a reason urban legends stick. The stories might be false, totally unbelievable and frightening, but we still tell them. Why? Because we know that the nugget of truth underneath the story’s skin is precious. Precious enough to share with the next generation, and the next, and the next…
There is a reason why historians and writers have long been friends. We make up for what the other lacks. While history gives us an interpretation of events under the guise of truth, literature gives us the truth under the shelter of fiction.