Monday, February 16, 2009

Fiction or Fact, Fantasy or Truth

Steve, hang in there with self-discovery. It's good for you. Keeps us from getting stale, ossified. You are one of the best commenters around. If I can entice you to read and comment I am richly rewarded and learn something about my own writing. I think I often believe people are more complex than they might in fact be. So in my imagination as I work my way into an experience I let my mind embellish the words of another. I make them into the character I want them to be. To serve whatever need is unmet in me. I overlook the signals I should be paying attention to. When a man says he's cheap, listen. I heard it twice and twice chose to ignore it. That was a mistake on my part as narrator of my own interior fiction. We all star in our own fictions. We hear what we want. We omit details that might embarrass. We lie in the name of kindness. And so we are inauthentic. We minimize our own flaws to make us feel better or to spare another. Fact or fiction? I suppose to some extent we are all living our own fictions to one degree or another. I'm just living mine more publicly than others. Lisa is a blogger who lives her life out here in the open. Freida too. She has now gone rather private so I feel a bit more like a freak of my own making with one less freakingly real blogger with a life laid open like a patient etherized upon a table to keep me company.

Crow, thank you for the comment. I do write fiction from my real life. I think all our material from our real lives is material that can't quite be called "the truth" since it is only our take on an interaction or observation. We cannot know what is in someone else's mind so we make assumptions about their motives and intentions and even if we ask them, they might tell us what they think we want to hear rather than the uncomfortable truth they really feel. So is Cal real or not? Yes, Cal is real. But my fantasy about Cal was not. Cal is not the man I imagined him to be. So my story is a fiction in that sense. But what I wrote about my feelings is real. Confusing isn't it? I'll tell you my truth, but is it an objective truth? Probably not. It is a bit fiction and bit wishful thinking and a story of my ancient past come back to haunt me.

I base all fiction on my life experiences or close observation of others. I don't have a crack team of researchers to tell me what it's like for a female climbing her way up the corporate ladder in a Fortune 500 Co that's caught in the sleaze that brings her company down. This is a world I'll have to let other's tell. I tell my own stories, but even writing about my real life is only my fiction of my real life. I cannot be objective. So it's the view from my eyes. It's the longings of my heart and other bits that lead me to suspend my own good instincts and allow myself to miss all the clues that this man is not the right man for me and that rather than be angry with the man, I am angry with myself for missing what was so clearly there in the small comments we hear and don't absorb because we don't want to.

These are my responses to some of your comments about the post I wrote yesterday. Your comments were extraordinary. I didn't include your comments because the words you write are your own and without your permission I will not publish them on my blog. But when I'm speaking to you, these are my words and can be used.

It fascinates me that when you believe I'm writing a "real" experience rather than a "fiction" you react differently. When you believed Cal's words were Cal's words you did not question whether Cal was a "real" man or a man of my imagining. As a "real" man you spoke to him. As a "character" you dismissed his words as unconvincingly male.

I have explored some of my own prejudices and my visceral reactions to superficialities of appearance. There are all kinds of silly details I left out of this "story." I gave you a woman who was unkind, but not as unkind as she would have been had she not been concerned about cruelty. She knows that her reaction to this man, Cal, is cruel enough without the revelation of her uncensored interior dialogue. I would like to know Cal's true, deep, interior dialogue, but I wonder if he is capable of it. I don't think Cal thinks very deeply about his feelings, and his reactions, and his expectations. Cal is openly guarded. Cal seems to be an uncomplicated character rather than a real man. If Cal were a real man, this would sound like cruelty. When you think Cal is a real man, you give him a pass. When you think I have invented Cal and put his fictional words in his fictional mouth, you find him inauthentic. This is food for thought.


Amos said...


Utah Savage said...

See what I mean about not revealing much information?

The Crow said...

But...but, I bought it all. In fact, I haven't written off any of it as pure fiction or the absolute truth.

To the extent that creative writing draws from our experiences (can't help but do so, even if we set out to imagine characters and settings completely from scratch), I believe your 'story' of Cal, I believe the words attributed to Cal are/could be his own. Hell, Peggy, I even met him at the gate with you and completed the picture with a clematis covered trellis in full bloom.

I lived this story, whether you wrote only facts or complete fiction. The story is now inside me and is taking on a life of its own.

I didn't dismiss Cal's words or his character. Maybe I don't know enough men to realize when words don't sound like they could have come from one. For God's sake, I married a pedophile who was so damned good at saying what I could believe that it took me 25 years and stumbling across his kiddie (and other disturbing) porn before it finally hit me that the something wrong with our marriage just might be him!

So, of course, I believe what you wrote. I'm naive and trusting and accepting. You wrote/write very well, as I said earlier. It was easy to believe in you and in Cal, no matter who wrote what, said what, thought what. And, in all likelihood, given who I am and how I see the universe, I will continue to do so.

However, I won't invest my money in any stock plan you might proffer, nor will I buy a used car from you. :-)

Looking for the Light in everyone, I remain your fan


Utah Savage said...

aThank you Marth my high flying friend. You have just told me a story I could write. But it would be much better for you and probably more interesting to me if you wrote the whole excruciating twenty five years. The courtship, the early years, the middle... You see where I'm going with this? We all have fascinating stories to tell. Fact or fiction, it doesn't matter. If it's genuine it comes through. If you hold back, less so unless the clues are there to the things untold.

Liberality said...

I thought all of this was real and now I am really confused. What your date with Cal real? Did you prepare a horrid meal? Did Cal fish for compliments and fall flat on his face? Is it all pretend? I don't know so I guess I better go back and reread these posts to find out.

MRMacrum said...

I might make jokes about it, but I really do believe that the only reality we can have faith in is the one we create for ourselves. When we cannot seperate our created reality from our created fictions is when we get into trouble. I have my pants full doing that. Trying to break out the real from the surreal of another's life is beyond my meager resources. So I just enjoy their moments and make no judgements. Well, I try to not make any anyway.

Utah Savage said...

Lib, in a way it was your almost horrified original comment that made me decide to write this as fiction. That it was off-putting as reality to you made me think it might be easier to take as fiction.

linda said...

whether this is fact or fiction, whether some of it or all of it, makes no difference....utah, you are a fabulous writer and I don't think you need apologize for is a little confusing because it is hard to discern which is real life and which is what? that's what makes you a good writer....why do you think you have so many readers?

get better soon, I am a bit worried about you. XO

AirmanMom said...

this is my first visit to your blog and I am most confused. I'm intrigued and will return!


Utah Savage said...

AlmonMom this must be disconcerting. You have arrived at the end of long tease and now we are discussing the discussion. Odd that! I have not thought how strange that must seem. I will move on soon to something less convoluted and continuing and try to keep my posts more reality based.

Beach Bum said...

So my story is a fiction in that sense. But what I wrote about my feelings is real. Confusing isn't it? I'll tell you my truth, but is it an objective truth? Probably not.

Coming in late on this but all my stuff is, to borrow a phrase from Jimmy Buffett, semi-true stories filled with fictional facts and factual fiction.

Liberality said...

Utah you are a gifted writer. I have thought that since I began reading your blog-- how many months ago was that now?--maybe 6 months ago. Well, I still think you are a hell of a writer and I like the idea of you: being fierce and alone and not afraid (at least most of the time) and saying what you think and apologizing later, if you feel like it. I really look up to you as a role model of sorts. I hope you do feel Spring coming to greet you soon and that your energy stays up. I must think of a poem for you to cheer you up. What did you think about that Anne Sexton poem posted on Valentine's Day?

Utah Savage said...

Beach, that's exactly right. I may have to give Jimmy Buffett a listen.

Steve Emery said...

Oh yeah - the things our creations tell us (or real people tell us) that we don't want to hear... I've addressed that on my blog recently, too, as the "precious" little things that need to be painted over. Only they have to be fully faced (heard) BEFORE you paint them over.

To me the weirdest thing about this is that the words I thought rang unconvincing as a male's were actually Cal's (not yours). And I thought there was something unconvincing about them BEFORE I had the slightest clue that ANY of this was fiction (deliberate fiction, anyway). What does that mean? Cal is less male than I expect your fiction would have been? My definition/impression of male is a fabrication that failed the test of including Cal's voice? And I consider myself a pretty enlightened male, where gender is concerned... Maybe not so much. More exploring to do.

And finally, there is the intriguing idea that every retold and remembered thing is at least partially fiction, because we edit our reality so much. No wonder no two tales of the same event compare, thus making courtroom scenes so fascinating (and dangerous). You've walked us through a strong experience of this concept; at first I was disoriented, but now I'm something closer to grateful for the chance to feel all this.

Utah Savage said...

Lib that was just the poem I needed to read.

Steve I'm glad this has opened your mind like a good mind bender should. Have you read my short story "A Strange Woman?" It was my first attempt to write a male character.

Lisa said...

I am now really confused, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I got invested in your story. That's what you wanted, right?

Utah Savage said...

Well, yes. I tell a story and I do want you to be invested in my story. I was having fantasies of living with Cal before he came to my house for dinner. No bottle of wine, no flowers--mind you this was three days before valentines day and 49 years later. But hours of phone conversation and a few tantalizing and not so tantalizing emails from Cal. I wanted the boy back in a man's body. The boy has lost himself, the boy no longer sees himself, or hears himself. I glossed over things I should have paid close attention to. When a man refers to himself as cheap, believe him. I understand poverty. I live in it. I don't understand cheapness.

Freida Bee said...

Utah- I am only private for two reasons. One, because my daughter blurted out in her school counselor's office (in the district where I want a job in about 6 months- that's two), "I've read your gross blog."

Granted, I am well-versed on a bipolar dear in the grippes of an "anything to distract from what I've done" phase (I am sober alcoholic and the tendency remains), but that is what made me go make it private.

That being said, I Am hoping to not exclude anyone who was already reading and have been putting out there that folks should email me if they are so inclined and I can invite them.

I love your revealing ways and am pretty jealous of your lack of need to hide things.

I have decided, however, that $50,000 is a price for which I will sacrifice anonymity- as my lame-if-I-don't-start-it-soon-memoir to enter a contest at my school is enough for me to be willing to be shocking, come out for reals, and sacrifice my marriage. (I would take the money as the universe's way of supporting that step._ Of course, this just re-iterates exactly how passive aggressive I really am. Is there any more I can say to make this post about me?

Oh yea, I'll never break up, so quit thinking that.