Saturday, February 11, 2012

Truth and Fiction

I had another fantastic writing class on Wednesday. We've got a couple of new students in the class, so it's nice to not only have new faces, but to hear fresh, new writing as well. One of them is writing adult fantasy, a story about a witch from a coven. There are a couple of other students, past and present, that have written about witches, so I am learning more about witches and witching than I ever wanted to. It's nothing that I would ever write about, but I respect people who do their homework and research about the subject, enough to write creepy stories about them. Even more though, I respect their ability to use their minds and creativity to evoke emotions of fear, sadness, excitement and fun from their readers.

The other new student is working on a fiction piece that is based on truth, or true events. That is a style I'm enamored with at the moment. Being someone whose style (strength?) is memoir, I like the idea of taking a true event and fictionalizing it, which then takes out the need to be 100% accurate with regards to events. My questions are, how much do you need to fictionalize or fabricate in order to be safe? Because it's a new concept to me I'm curious what the boundaries are.

One of the things I struggle with most is what is my story lacking as far as relevant detail(s)? Does the actual year, time, date, location matter in every situation? Memoirists have a writer's obligation to get things as close to accurate as he/she can. If this involves fact checking, then so be it. If it is entirely personal and only involves the writer, then they are tasked with recalling the event as close to how it happened as possible.

Changing subjects wildly, I had breakfast with a couple of buddies this morning. We're trying to make it a monthly thing, and two months into it, I really enjoy it. Good "guy time." We talk about a number of things including politics, sports, our families and marriages. This week we got on the subject of Facebook for a while and the good and bad of it. We all kind of agreed that kids tend to use it for spewing much more than adults, but that adults were far from innocent on it as well. One guy was off of it entirely and the other said he stayed on it just to kind of keep his finger on the pulse of politics.

I can respect both of their arguments. I once "gave up" facebook, but my writing instructor was quick to point out that it is a decent medium for getting your name/work out there. I re-signed up and have been on it ever since. It's been a struggle to keep positive about everything I'm seeing. People get ugly. People trash other people and politicians. People lose friends. People lose "friends" who were never anything more than a facebook friend and shouldn't have been "friended" in the first place. Kids post inappropriate stuff, and their parents let them. (Don't they monitor?)

At the same time, there is much good on it too. Causes are brought forth. People send heartfelt notes and posts to others. People pray (or claim to) for others who are sick or going through tough times. There's lots of good humor ("Who ya finna' try, who ya finna try" or the talking dog video come to mind.) There's timely news posts, like the tragic Walpole Elementary shooting yesterday. Good musical posts and peoples' pictures and cool family moments.

My thought is, just like the internet itself, something that started for good, has turned into a place where you have to tread lightly. Statistics estimate that between 30-40% of the internet is pornography. I would wager that facebook approaches those numbers for spewing vs. valued content, at least from my chair. Like most people I know, I've had to "hide" some of my "friends" because they bring me down. If I consistently see someone bringing people down (including themselves), I hide them. It just makes life easier. That way I can still pick and choose the good from the bad and keep my fingers on the good of facebook just the same. I believe facebook is what you make it, and I'm going to keep it real.

Blogging off...

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