V is for Veracity #atozchallenge

Day 22 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: veracity.

In his book The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes,

“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” 

This has stuck with me as a writer, because often I’m writing about things that I haven’t personally  experienced.  And obviously I want these things – events, characters, themes – to resonate with the reader.  A big chunk of why I write is so that someone who doesn’t write will read something of mine and think, “That’s exactly what I would say.  She gets it. She gets me.”

O’Brien’s book is written as a memoir of his experiences in Vietnam.  Only the characters never existed, and their actions never happened.  But does that make them less real?

Our perceptions color so much of our lives.  What if we remember something differently than how it happened: different motivations, different reactions?  It was real, but it happened completely different than we thought.  What if I as a writer portray something that never happened, but could have?  But should have? 

What if I can discern your motivations and thoughts and express them in writing, even if you don’t even know why you’re doing something?  What if I can make something real for you?

I think that’s what we look for when we read, or watch a movie, or look at a painting – can the creator articulate what we can’t?  Can they make it real for us?

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