“I want to write the story of my life, but I want it to be interesting!”
This is what a writer friend of mine said to me recently.
“Well, do you want to fictionalize it, like a blend of truth and fiction?” I offered.
“I don’t know, where is the line?”
“Are you saying your life story is boring?”
“Not entirely, it just needs a little embellishing.”
“So, you want to exaggerate the truth to make it more juicy?”
“Right, I might change some events altogether.”
“So, now you want to sell your life story as a novel.”
“Sounds good to me. It might sell then!”
“But will your life story be believable if you exaggerate too much?”
“I don’t see why not. Some say there’s a bearded man in the sky who created everything in seven days! Yet the same people say unicorns and fairies don’t exist!”
I smiled: “I know there’s a lot of conflicting ideas about truth and fiction in our so called “logical” world!”
“The dictionary says fiction is an invented story, not real. Truth is defined as accurate, conforming to fact, agreement with reality.”
We both were pondering those two words for a few minutes.
“Well, I think fiction actually comes from truth! Your fiction comes from incidents of truth. The incidents might be exaggerated and stretched to make them more interesting.”
“So, fiction is an escape from the boring truth of the world.”
“You could put it that way!”
“Many authors fictionalized their autobios. Dickens did with “David Copperfield”. F. Scott Fitzgerald did it in a couple of his novels, but they were considered fiction.”
“Why did they do it?”
“Probably, too many demons in their lives made them uncomfortable. Maybe through fiction they could tell the truth without humiliating themselves.”
“I’m still confused,” said my writer friend, “I want to make my life story interesting but real!”
“Well, what do we do when we write fiction?”
He thought about it for a minute and said: “We invent characters and events that feel real to the reader.”
“Right, spot on!”
My writer friend smiled.
“Now, one way to make it seem real is to use exaggerated autobio details.”
“Maybe this dilemma of truth or fiction or a mixture is getting clearer.”
“Most novelists incorporate pieces of their lives in their stories to ground their friction in reality.”
“So, to convert the truth to fiction, use the juiciest bits in your life and toss the uninteresting parts in the bin. This way you can use a piece of truth to its fictional advantage.”
Writer friend seemed satisfied!
“I’ve put a lot of “me” into my stories and sometimes the ratio of truth to fiction is very small.”
Someone once said: “Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our life!”
“Well, I guess I will start on my autobiographical fictional life story. I probably won’t even recognize it as MY LIFE!”