Saturday, July 16, 2005
Devas T., children's liarist
Liar—liar—pants on fire! I've never considered myself much of a liar. When it comes to telling a fib, I'm like George Washington and the cherry tree, I just didn't do it. For that reason, it's a rare occasion you'll catch a brotha bearing false witness against his neighbors. But "white lies" are different.
"Honey," I'd lie through my teeth. "That eggplant and greenbean casserole, your ancient and sacred family recipe is absolutely delicious." "White lies" keep a brotha's marriage on solid ground. But a 250-page, book-length lie is quite something different all together. Or is it?
More experienced writers have probably already considered the question, sitting at literary round tables, author panels, critique groups and message boards. But not till last night, as I typed the synopsis of a teen fiction novel, that the question came clear in my mind: Aren't fiction writers actually creators of voluminous fabrications—or real big lies? One lie leads the reader to another lie, which covers the weakness of yet another lie, which offers an explanation of still another lie. These combinations of lies will cause some type of conflict which inevitably will culminate in some type of resolution. Is our culture so accustomed to lying that it has become acceptable when used to entertain or edify?
Here's how dictionary.com defines the word:
A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.
feigning or of creating with the imagination
Succinctly put, fiction is a lie. I've met many authors, writers for children and adults, during the tenure of my children's book career. That means I've met probably hundreds of very nice, smart, highly-educated, well paid, good intentioned morally upright, liars. Are smarmy smiles real? Are warm greetings simply fabricateded mirages performed by talented liars? How can you trust someone who makes a career out of telling really big lies? And a used car salesmen has a bad rap. Hmm, ponder that.
How does one walk in integrity, profess their morality, and espouse the virtues of honesty and uprightness, while offering their lies for sale at a price?
So, where am I going with this? Nowhere. I'm busy and don't have time to ponder it any further. I'm just thinking out loud, but if there's one thing I've discovered about myself in my attempts at writing a novel: I am one good liar. And I kind of like it.
Sorry, I gotta get back to developing my outline. The big lie.