Thursday, December 4, 2014

An Author's Life: How to Tell Fact From Fiction

Oh let's not call it procrastination. Instead, let's call it creative warm-ups. Jumping jacks in place. While slumped in a desk chair and staring at a computer monitor.

To be a bit more accurate and only slightly less dramatic, I was sorting through seven years of blog posts to...oh, what the hell does it matter? I wasn't writing what I'm supposed to be writing, although I was thinking about it. No news there, because I'll be thinking about the damn thing (aka, manuscript) until I turn it in. Of course, I do need to write it first. There is that.

I digress. See? Not procrastinating! Digressing! A creative detour...sorting through blog posts and stumbling upon a virtual pile of unpublished posts. Some happen to be exactly what I'm supposed to be writing, evidence that I've been thinking about this stuff for ages upon ages.

Along the way I rediscovered this quote from an interview with Hilary Mantel. Mantel, who won the Booker Prize twice, is best known for her historical novels about Thomas Cromwell: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (Wolf Hall, Book 2). I loved both, but loved even more her novel about the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel. It's so complex and dark that it makes what Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dickens wrote seem like light-hearted Disneyfied fairy tales about the best and worst of times.

I digress...again! But not really, because here's how I tie it all together: I write nonfiction. I've always written nonfiction (plus dismal adolescent poetry) for two major reasons. First, I simply don't "get" the process of writing a novel. Second, I've learned that I simply cannot make up the stuff that I have and continue to experience.

And so, imagine my delight to stumble upon what Mantel said about distinguishing fact from fiction. Not kidding, imagine my delight. Whatever you're able to imagine is a probably a true fact.