Someone asked me last night if I tell the truth. What a loaded question. This person referred to a specific event in our lives, but their question got me thinking about my writing. What truth is in my writing?
“Write what you know” is common advice for writers. Does that mean that fiction books represent real events? Maybe, probably, no way in hell. But a real event can be construed so many ways by the “what if this happens?” question that writers ask themselves as they place their characters in the middle of a huge shit storm.
A seed of a truth can be taken, used, morphed, rewritten so many times that the original seed is no longer visible. Does this make something any less true?
While writing, I take an incident– or several incidents– and blend them into a story. The only truth that matters to me while I write is the question I ask myself every day: did I tell this story to the best of my ability? This is one of the hardest questions to answer truthfully, but also one of the most important instances for me to be honest.
So, truth in writing only matters at the end of the day, once the words are on the page. Is this my best work to date? Did I pour my soul into these words? If the answer is yes, then it is the only truth that matters.
Currently reading: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion