I’m back in the US after nearly 24 hours on a plane. Well, I’ve been in the US now more than 24 hours after spending those 24 hours on a plane, and jetlag isn’t hitting me as hard as I thought it would, but that may be due to the nap I took a few hours ago.
Hours. Hours and hours and hours.
I’m supposed to be working on an article for an academic journal. It’s due on the 21st. The outline is solid, things are filling in, but it still feels very intimidating. I’m aiming at 4000 words, with a max of 5000; 3500 – 4000 should adequately cover what I’m trying to express.
Which is about truth, and lies. Stories are made-up things. Phillip Pullman has said more than once, and with different words, that stories tell truth with lies. And that’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, the difference between truth and fact. Truth can sting independent of fact; fact is hard and cold and unyielding, something that sometimes yields as much comfort as warming words. Lies are a deliberate alteration of fact, but their relationship to truth is not as dualistic.
But let’s say you’re listening to a bunch of people. Interviewing them, really. Because what you want to do is listen to their experiences, find the truth in the fact, the memories and moments that resonate, and then use that to anchor a wholly fictional tale about a completely made up person in emotional — and to some degree factual — truth.
Where are the boundaries in this process? What ethical considerations need to be taken into account? And how does a writer monitor those things, make sure he or she is riding the straight and narrow, at least enough to cause the least harm? And how much harm is too much, and to whom?
And there you go. That’s what the article is about, except I neglect to mention the role of reflective practice which is another entry entirely. With luck, I’ll have this ready to go by the evening of the 21st. Right now, it’s slow going, but at least I don’t have blank-page paralysis, which happened to me for the first time in my life just a few months ago. Shocking.
Anyway, back to work for me.