When I was a kid, okay, teenager, I said that I would do my best to try not to lie. I said it for many reasons, but ultimately the main reason to abstain from the ease of lying is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to remember the truth than what lie you tell. Even for a writer that’s the case. Due to the fact that I don’t lie (with the exclusion of white lies for presents and stuff) many people believe that I’m lousy at it. Couldn’t be farther from the truth as I find that I’m quite exceptional at it, which is why I don’t do it unless necessary.
I believe that all good writers are expert liars simply because they are writers and the very nature of our passion/profession unless they are a journalist requires a certain aspect of lying involved. If anyone has ever watched the first Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone said it best: “You make stuff up, it has to be believable. It’s called suspension of disbelief.”
The moment I heard that line I knew it was true, like deep in the soul true. It’s that age old balance between you know it’s not real, but you feel like it should or could be real. Love it!
But, when I was in my 20s and I heard that I only looked at it from the surface level of what writers do, or should try to do when writing their books. To avoid the James Bond “Uh huh, yeah right” scenario with many of their stunts. It wasn’t apparent to me that while writers craft this suspension of disbelief for our readers, it goes deeper for us. What I mean by this is that writers have to become experts at lying… to themselves.
I know there has to be a few scratching their heads at this so let me explain. A few years ago when I finished Memory Lane I learned that while writing the first draft is a pain and really hard, the truly hard part is editing your first draft. I wrote a very entertaining and clever post about it HERE if you’re interested in reading it. It’s full of danger, intrigue, and the sum of the experience. It’s also talking about the first time I consciously realized that I lie to myself about my writing all the time.
The irony? I’m always about being truthful about myself.
I will say this, that while all that agony for Memory Lane was accurate beyond the whole need to fall into the depth of creative writing to get it out of my system (I really do love that post), that I’ve matured enough as a writer that the revision/editing process isn’t filled with quite as much drama. It aggravates, but now that I know that the whole damn process is hard and never gets easier, the lying to myself comes down to “I”ll send it to this person because I know they’ll be honest” instead of “I’ll send it to them because they’ll be honest but won’t be able to read it for 2 months at least”