Friday, September 12, 2014

Fiction is the Lie

Was there a point before you were published when you thought of giving up? If so, how did you get over it and keep going?

By Paul D. Marks

I still think of giving up, but I don’t do it.

Part of the reason we’re writers is ‘cause we’re persistent. Lots of people want to be writers, give up to easily or just don’t’ find time to do it. It’s a passion – it’s not like a hobby that you give up when you don’t have the time. And it’s a passion that you have to do every day like eating.

You write because you have to. Yes, it’s nice to get published. And even paid. But if that’s why one writes you’re in the wrong biz.

It’s kind of like “Ol’ Man River,” tired of livin’, but scared of dyin’. But the river keeps rolling along. As do we. Because there’s nothing else we can possibly do. Sure we might have families, other jobs, other obligations, but we find the time to write because it’s in our blood and in our bones.

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We write because we have something to say, some interpretation of life that we want to share. Or maybe we just want to entertain. In “Sullivan’s Travels,” the classic Preston Sturges film, Joel McCrea plays a movie director who makes silly trifles like “Ants in Your Plants of 1939”. But he wants to make a serious film about people struggling, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”. Not knowing anything about the downtrodden he has the studio
costume department outfit him like a hobo and he takes off, entourage not far behind. To cut to the chase, so to speak, and through a series of misadventures he finds himself on a real chain gang. And there, watching the prisoners laugh at a Mickey Mouse cartoon he realizes that people just want to laugh and be entertained. And I think that’s what we want to do, entertain. It can be serious entertainment or light entertainment. But ultimately that is the bottom line – we are entertainers.

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And how do I get over those doubts about continuing, I wake up the next day, sit at the typewriter (in the “early” days) and type. And if it really is in your blood you just get over it. Just like you do after you break up with the “love of your life.” Sure, h/she’s the one that got away. And you still think about her on occasion. But it’s yesterday. Today is working on that new chapter or character or funny bit or whatever. You just do it.

All of this because ultimately, as Camus said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”

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7 comments:

Meredith Cole said...

Great post, Paul! Love all the old Hollywood shots...

Art Taylor said...

Love Sullivan's Travels myself. And love the picture of Highsmith—always great to include her wherever you can. Great post!

J. F. Constantine said...

Wow, Paul! Well said. I could not agree with you more.

Sally Carpenter said...

Love your idea that writers are "entertainers." Most people doesn't realize that since writers are not (usually) on stage or seen by others as they do their entertaining. And I'll have to check out "Sullivan's Travels." I'm surprising someone nowadays hasn't used that concept for a reality show.

Susan C Shea said...

Patricia Highsmith, chained to the typewriter, turning out great fiction...love the photo and I agree with your "Why we do it" answer.

GBPool said...

I could hear the tune, The Entertainer, as I was reading this. I guess that's what we really are. Great post.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. And if you haven't seen Sullivan's Travels, it might be worth checking out.