Friday, 30 July 2010

Over on "An awfully big blog adventure"

Ellen Renner has relayed an interesting question asked of her on a school visit. "Do you ever tell the truth?" Her answer was apparently, "No, I don't."
I am sure Ellen is a truthful person and that her answer related to her writing. She was saying, "No, the story that I write is not real." In that sense the story is a lie - but it might also be the truth. It might actually need to be the truth.
I think good writing actually needs to be about the truth, even if the characters themselves are lying and deceiving themselves, each other and the reader I think there has to be some underlying truth there - or the writing will not be believable.
We can perhaps look on all creativity as a lie. When we create something we are saying something like "this is true", "this is what it feels like", "this is what it looks like", "this is the way it is or was or will be" but what it is like for us and what it is like for someone else can be two very different things. There will be two lies and two truths, or perhaps even more than that.
(When someone writes a piece of music there is what the composer hears in his mind, there is what is written on the page, there is the way it is interpreted when it is played, there is what is heard - and all those things are different and will go on differing.) The writer is writing from their experience of the world and that is unique, the reader is reading it from their experience and that is another uniqueness. If you are being read to (and this is probably why I do not like being read to) then there is also also the interpretation of that reader. It is why I find the film interpretation of any book so difficult - someone else's interpretation of the book comes between me and my understanding of it.
I think writing has to be about a special, legitimate form of lying and, more importantly, about telling the truth so that others can understand it.

7 comments:

Sheep Rustler said...

Of course if she says she never tells the truth, that means she is lying when she says that!! I certainly think that all writing must contain essential truths, and that there is a big difference between imagining/creating/making things up, and lying. I personally feel that lying has a totally different intent behind it.

catdownunder said...

Mmmm...lying about not lying - twisted logic indeed!
You are right of course. It is the intention isn't it?

Rachel Fenton said...

Do you not think writers are essentially liars, Cat?

Or was it that she killed the myth of truth for the children which ruffled your cat hairs?

(being devil's advocate here)

catdownunder said...

Not really bothered Rachel - just sort of curious about the idea. It is an interesting one - the writer as liar but also the writer as truth teller. I suspect there is a fine balancing act to be performed there. We need to make the lies believable anyway!

Linda Strachan said...

'We need to make the lies believable anyway!'
I agree, Cat, if the lies are not believable no one will want to read what the writer writes, will they?

The connotation behind the word 'lying' is that the person is wanting to mislead but I think writers are 'making it up' by creating characters and situations so that they can tell a story that displays truths and observations about how people live and about relationships.

catdownunder said...

Yes, except of course in detective stories where there are all those little 'clues' designed to mislead!

Linda Strachan said...

Ahh, but that's a different kind of misleading, though!