Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Writer's Liar

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde


“When I write, I’m not deaf.”

Was I lying or is it my belief, my fiction, my little white lie, which makes this true in a sense? For odd reasons this presented a conundrum for me recently; on some level I felt like the liar (the writer) hiding behind her words. Writing doesn’t remove my disability; to a few readers, my words might be more descriptive in place of hearing. Others believe it’s not an absolute priority or needed to write. Both hold an element of truth. Each person has their own truth they take away from a single blanket statement, in this case my bold altruism of believing I’m not deaf (at least when I write).

Truth is such a relative controversy when it comes to writers; we ply our trade by being imaginative, conniving liars. You shouldn’t trust us writers, we can spin a tale like no other and not only will you believe us, you’ll be asking for more.

Am I deaf?

Proficient liars one and all, even the non-fiction sort. Confused? Whenever someone tells a story or recalls events no matter how true or fact based, they may be - they’re still telling ‘their’ version of the truth. So are we all liars – manipulative culprits you really shouldn’t trust or believe a single word uttered out of our mouths? What if I told you, underneath every lie, a thread of truth can be found. Aha, let’s close that vault full of philosophical arguments before we get off track.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

I’m not deaf when I write…change the order of words and the truth outs itself. Every single writer I know writes truth into their fiction; we create the characters and give them personalities based on our own observations, beliefs, and imaginations. We thread the story with emotional density and experiences from our lives. Life lessons are the creation behind the storyteller’s voice. Readers and listeners take those stories and interpret them into something they recognize, until they are no longer the writer’s truths, but their own.

For example, take the woman running the cash register, who yanked her hand away from mine instead of giving me my change, simply because I said I was deaf. In her reality, deafness is contagious. You can bet at some point she’s going to show up in a book somewhere. Better yet the neighbors who become watchdogs duplicating my actions, hairstyle, and clothing like automatons with no personality of their own (aliens maybe) – once again my truth, which becomes your fiction.

Each of us, caught in our worst lie will give away the truth in some form. Writers do it better, we’re sales clerks selling the biggest lie of all and asking you to extend believability to what you’re reading. Who knows…you might find me hidden somewhere in the story. I hope not, if I’m any good at all, you bought the lie hook, line, and sinker.

In the end…I’ll always be deaf. Writing gave me the tools to hear through noise, sound, and music descriptions. A match made in heaven wouldn’t you agree? On this playing field, I hear just fine. Sometimes our biggest lie, is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Picture from here.