“You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let’s say, and afterward you ask, ‘Is it true?’ and if the answer matters, you’ve got your answer . . . Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
-Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
The world is non-fiction, but to experience it is purely fictional.
That’s why we use metaphors, hyperbole, and flat out lies to tell our stories. Although expressing the facts of a situation does accurately portray the world as it was in that moment, it fails miserably to capture the humanity. In that sense, fiction is truer than true.
It is factually correct, for instance, that my brother dislocated his shoulder while snowboarding and, in doing so, broke off a piece of bone that then shattered beyond repair. It’s truer than true, however, that in a timeless moment of weightlessness, the snowbank flew at his head; his brawny arm, an only human arm after all, powerless against the gods of solid matter and gravity, flew aside like it was as insubstantial as fog, bones liquefying inside his skin as that eternal moment ended and his new existence of agony began.
The first one tells you what happened, but the second one lets you live it and thereby truly understand it.
Writing non-fiction is much easier than writing fiction, but it’s so much harder to bring it to life, to make it interesting. Think of the non-fiction you read on the internet. If it doesn’t reach a certain threshold of snark, you get bored after a sentence or two and click on the next shiny new link.
OMG! Cher bought three grizzly bears? Heck yeah I want to click for more!
Short post today. It’s Friday, and my writing this week has put me through the emotional wringer.
Seriously, though, the outpouring of love I’ve received from family and friends about my writing is truly inspiring. This week, for the first time in years, I talked to both of my brothers at the same time. I’m reconnecting with old friends and distant family members. I never dreamed anybody would be interested in reading what I have to say, but you all have made me want to write more and more.
I’ve only shared my writing a handful of times in my life before this blog. My writing is so personal; sharing it is terrifying. It’s baring my soul to the world, facing possible rejection and ridicule. The opposite is happening, though. People are relating to me and encouraging me.
Thank you to everybody who has reached out to me in the last week. You’ll never know how much your kind words and support mean to me.
I love you all so much,