Truth As Fiction

I have written on this blog before about the kindness of a certain young girl I work with.  She comes into my life only a few times a year but she leaves an impression.  She tells the best stories, always shares them with big eyes, wild hand gestures, and the hugest of hearts.

Together, we talk books because we can not get enough of them.  Her mother loans them out with you have to read this clutches to her heart.  Her father talks about bookstores like most men talk of sports teams.  And she, herself, exclaims that my books (I mean, I say this loosely. I have manuscripts, not books) sound really good.  To have a reader like her would make me one of the luckiest, richest writers alive.

Who is this fairytale family? You must be wondering.  You’ll know them soon enough because, I’m telling you, this girl has big plans, she’s going places, there’s no dilly-dallying, and she can not wait for you to catch up.

Yesterday, I chatted with her father about writing. A retired employee from an intelligence agency (yes, that one), he’s written of his experience (but if he told you he’d have to kill you.) 

Folks, if you think getting a book published is hard, if you think getting a foot inside these locked industry gates is nightmare enough, imagine trying to get a book published about the internal workings of a place like that. The man must submit his work to the intelligence agency itself before he even enters the publishing trenches and, as he says, he gets huge red stomping stamps of REDACTED every day.

I wondered, out loud, what this meant for the truth of his story.  How would he be able to tell it with these kind of censors?  How is he working around these frightening red stamps to tell it like it really happened?

He said something that stopped me.

He’s rethinking his approach.  “I think, to tell the whole truth, I’m going to have to write it as fiction.”

Honestly, I can’t think of anything more strange and wonderful than that.

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10 thoughts on “Truth As Fiction

  1. I have an autobiographical story in the works and I feel EXACTLY the same way about it. I can only be emotionally truthful if lots of the “what actually happened” is heavily reworked. Otherwise, I'd end up playing too nice with characters to protect real people.

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  2. “I think, to tell the whole truth, I'm going to have to write it as fiction.”

    We do this every day, don't we, Melissa? If we used the real names in our “fiction”, we'd get sued…or beat up. 🙂

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  3. That makes me sad and yet intrigues me at the same time. When I look back on my favorite books and the lessons that I've learned, it seems that the fictional truths were always easiest to embrace.

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