Speaking to one of my teenaged friends yesterday about college essays and other kinds of writing for school, we were discussing the fine art of bullshitting. Now I’m all for bullshitting, as an art form, but I think there’s a time and place for everything. Fine if you want to shovel it in your college essay, philosophy papers and application for financial aid. But speaking as both a writer and a reader I think bullshitting in fiction just doesn’t work.
I think there’s a certain level of honesty and authenticity that is required of fiction authors for the writing to be any good. If you’re spending your time trying to get over on your readers there’s going to be something missing from your work. The focus will be in the wrong place and on the wrong thing. I suppose I can understand the appeal of bullshitting though. I mean, it’s the old “Ha ha! I’m smarter than you because you fell for it.” But ultimately, I get more satisfaction in crafting my words in such a way that I take my readers with me on a journey through my story. But perhaps that’s just another ego trip? I mean when I write a story I’m God-like, creating a world, peopling it, maneuvering situations, choosing what to reveal and conceal. Maybe I’m just bullshitting myself! Maybe it’s all just bullshit. Possibly my teenaged friend knows more than I. Maybe he’s right about this!
How truthful are you when you’re making up a story? How honest is your fiction?