Two types of lies (for writers)

Let’s stipulate that there are two types of lies that writers can use: the lie that comes from the heart, and the lie that comes from the head.  Neither is true.  Even when you’re telling a true story, it’s not true.  Your memory is wrong, and your emotions are wrong.  What you think and feel happened wasn’t what really happened.  I’m serious about this.

But it’s the lies that come from your heart that the good stories come from.  The things that you long to be true, instead of the things that you think ought to have been true.  The lies that come from your heart bother your head: “Don’t say that.  People won’t like it.  And anyway, it wasn’t true.”  Your head isn’t any better, though, assembling and reassembling a bunch of crap that never sticks together, a lie that, no matter how well structured it is, nobody will believe, because belief isn’t about facts, even though it should be.

There’s a time for your head; it’s called editing.  When you’re writing, you have to write from the heart–even if it’s a lie.  Maybe even especially if, because that kind of lie is the one you tell because you can’t go on otherwise, in some small but important way.  Even as adults we have to face things we can’t face, not really, and stories can heal us just enough to let us go on.  It’s a lie.  No matter which way you go, it’s a lie.  It couldn’t have, and it didn’t, happen that way, no matter how much you needed it to have done.  But there it is, that story, and it rings true, because you wrote it out of the lie that came from your heart, that said, “Please, for just a second, let it have happened this way.”

 

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1 Comment

  1. Liz

    I like the idea of writing from your heart and editing from your brain. I’ve been struggling with that separation lately; I think I’ve just been trying to do both at once too much.

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