Lying and Creativity

When I was very young, word usage seemed to be less caustic.   After I’d offered my mom an an alibi for someting I did or didn’t do, she’d ask, “Andy, are you telling me a story”?.   She never used, “Are you lying.”  Of course when I was caught in a lie, then I was labeled a “story-teller.”   Hmmm.  That’s what I’m trying to do now with my novels and short stories —  be a story teller.

As most young people do, I did challenge the rules I was supposed to obey — about homework, about places not to go, and various other misdemeanors.  When caught, I’d first deny with a simple, “No I didn’t do that.”  But as the youngest of six children, my parents had developed a keen sense of intuition about whether their children were being honest.   Merely denying was not enough to prevent me from being punished.  So I learned that if I was to tell a story, it had better be a good one.   Thus began a part of my creativity. 

I did an effective job of covering up the deaths of my Guinea pigs, the laceration on my sister’s wrist (where there’s still a scar),  the condoms discovered in the pocket of my jeans that were absentmindedly tossed in the laundry, and other juvenile crimes.  But being that kind a story teller, as exciting as it was to be successful in being creative, was unsatisfying.   I knew the truth.  And I think it is just more comfortable (maybe morally right) for both the person providing the words, and the person receiving the words to know whether the words are truth or fiction.

Later, I did learn the value of truthfulness, honesty, and integrity, and have chosen a path based on those principles.  And now as a writer I can openly tell untruths — stories — call them fiction, and nobody who reads my work would call me a liar.  Writing creativity I suppose is a form of lying, but obviously an accepable one.   And with I the writer, and the person who reads my work, both understanding  that the words are fiction, there’s no guilt like there is about those poor Guinea pigs who died over fifty years ago.

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