Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Journal Series: Some Thoughts on Truth

I really thought I was done with this series yesterday, but I guess not. I need to stop taking showers. I get too many good ideas in the shower...

Truth in fiction is the story's truth. It's what makes a story resonate with what you know to be true. Truth in fiction has nothing to do with make believe and everything to do with making us believe.

And then there's the other kind of truth. The one you sometimes have to ask yourself how much of you really want. This kind of truth is for journal writing. This is the kind of truth that can hurt people.

Truth can cut deep. Is your first loyalty in writing truth to yourself or is it to the people in your life whom you love/hate/want to protect? This is where privacy comes in. If you're going to write your truth, you need to protect yourself and others by making sure people who could be hurt by your words don't have access to them.

There is never only one truth to any story. Each of us has our own version of the truth, each of us puts a unique spin on a story that is seen through the filters of our own individual set of experiences. So your truth of an experience will not be the same as the truth of the other people involved.

Truth is what I try to write in my journals. But I'm well aware that what I'm writing is only my truth. Others experienced the same events completely differently. Their story is not mine. But my story is the only one that's going to help me find my way.

Truth is what you should aim for in your journals. Not someone else's truth. Not the truth you think or have been told ought to be yours. Not the politically correct truth, or the truth that isn't going to hurt anyone. The real truth. Your truth.

Even if it hurts.


Lynn said...

"Is your first loyalty in writing truth to yourself or is it to the people in your life whom you love/hate/want to protect?"

One's own truth, for sure. Those we have spent our lives protecting will have to be responsible for their own truth.

Ah, Jazz. Now I see what attracted me to this site. You are a storyteller AND a truth teller. Same here. I write fiction and I had the first inklings of the magnitude of my truth in some of my characters, and even in some of the overall plots. Because I was not in touch with my truth at the time, I had to put my novels away. Or lose my mind. I didn't have the tools (the acknowledged truth) to keep both. It's very sad when a person has more reality in fiction than in their day to day life. The truth had been squeezed out and stuffed away in boxes decades before. All in the name of protection. It left me with nothing.

Jazz said...

You've hit the nail on the head, Lynn. Storyteller and truth teller. There is far more truth in my fiction that I would admit to my family and friends.

I have found that my characters often speak my truth long before I am ready to own it and speak it for myself. And for many years I felt, as you said, that there was "more reality in fiction than in my day to day life." I think I'm a little more in touch with myself least, I like to think I am!

Have you come back to writing fiction?

Lynn said...

Oh, Jazz. How sweet of you to ask. I must confess, your question made me mist up a little. I tried to come back. I really wanted it. I still do. Sometimes I can almost taste it. The very naked truth is that I'm scared. You can read about the struggle with fiction here if you like:

I left all the posts on the first page with the earliest at the bottom. I think only another fiction writer could truly understand.

Jazz said...

(after reading your blog about writing) It sounds like quite a struggle, Lynn, and I can certainly relate to a lot of it. I went through something similar (and am still fighting it) regarding my fear of mania and my belief that my writing drove my moods. While I think I've worked through that fear, I haven't found my way through the apathy. I'm still not back to my fiction yet, although I want to be. I just don't feel the spark I used to. Until then, the blog is supposed to compel me to write something every day so I can keep in practice.

Your writing process sounds a lot like mine...I don't outline or plot either. I usually begin with a compelling (to me) character who has a problem, and it just sort of grows from there. I get a vague idea of how it might end after I start writing, but usually I end up surprising myself, and my first ideas about where it might go are often dead wrong!

I've really got to make an effort...but with summer vacation coming up, and the kids being home all day, my moments of silence shall dwindle to nothing.

It's never a good time, is it?