Tag Archives: research

How true can a story be?

IF YOU WANT ‘TRUTH’ WRITE MEMOIR?

Knowing that memoir, non-fiction, history… all are someone’s version of  ‘the truth’ or ‘what actually happened.’

Back before I finished Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, I remember wondering whether it was okay to tell a story that would take quite a lot to be true, and yet should feel absolutely as if it was true, as all fiction that lasts does.

The image above, or a very ripe strawberry, reminds me of one of the early scenes in Firefly (one of our family’s all-time favorite TV shows), where Kaylee acquires an amazing strawberry from Shepherd Book, as part of his passage on the ship.

Is the idea better than the reality?

I can’t eat one – and we have them daily here – without thinking of the look on her face as she bites into the perfect fruit. All of them aren’t that perfect, but we don’t care – the idea of  ‘strawberry’ is a powerful umbrella which covers a little imperfection here and there.

I stopped worrying, went ahead and finished that part of the story exactly as I had planned, making it as true as I could make with smoke and mirrors.

I’m trying to do the same sleight-of-hand with the next volume.


From October, 2012:

Telling fairytales: giving readers false hopes

One of the things getting in the way of getting on with editing Pride’s Children, the WIP, is an insidious little voice in my head saying, “That could never happen!”

My brain tells me I shouldn’t write the story of someone who gets something in the story she would never get in real life – and that it would discourage people with similar problems from even thinking about what happens in the book – lest it give them FALSE HOPES.

And then I remembered that’s why humans tell stories.

In stories, the ugly duckling turns out to be the swan, more beautiful than all those picking at him. And Cinderella, the girl whose stepmother and stepsisters treat her like a servant, marries the Prince.

The point is – if we don’t tell stories and read stories – all we have is reality. Reality is harsh. If it were not for stories, humans would all die early by ‘failure to thrive.’

We need stories in which there is hope.

That it may be temporarily false is not important. If we mature, we will grow up to discover our own place, our own story, our own Prince – our own way to be happy. Either we will become President – or we will decide it is too much work to be President, anyway.

Children – and I think most people can remember being different, wanting more than they had, wishing they were more popular, or their parents had more money (so they could have that pony my eldest still asks for – at 26) – don’t have the tools to create their own reality where they are happy. Stories teach them (and adults who are still struggling with the same questions) those tools, or at least, that there ARE tools.

This could happen.

My story, if I am successful in my aims, will let someone spend a bit of time thinking ‘this could be me, this COULD happen,’ and thus keep that someone happy enough to keep trying for another day.

That is a good enough reason to write.


 

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Time to help Wikipedia this year – where would we be without it?

THE VERY BEST OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY GIFTS

This time every year some version of the Wikipedia fundraising banner appears. I automatically send them money – because, without Wikipedia, a writer can’t function. And my husband, now retired, still uses it all the time.

They are a NON-PROFIT and don’t ask much:


We survive on donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour.Donate link


While I’m at this, I’d also like to thank the invisible army of volunteers who write the information, edit it, update it, footnote it, and check each other for accuracy, all for nothing but being of service – to me.

Send them a few bucks – feel happy for the rest of the year.

Help Wikipedia do what it does so well – send them a few bucks

Every year some version of the Wikipedia fundraising banner appears across the top of the page when you go to get your dollop of information. I automatically send them money – because, without Wikipedia, a writer can’t function. And my husband, the teacher, uses Wikipedia all the time for useful information of all kinds for his chemistry and physics students.

They don’t ask much:

“DEAR WIKIPEDIA READERS: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 175 staff but serve 500 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, programs, and staff. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind, a place we can all go to think and learn. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.” Continue reading

Gratitude: Don’t forget to pay the Wikipedia piper

If you’re anything like me, when a new subject comes up, and you need to do research, you do a search (Google or otherwise), and end up for starters at…WIKIPEDIA.

Why? Because they never fail to have SOMETHING, written in reasonably clear English, that serves as an introduction to whatever it is you were researching. Continue reading