One of the first things we learn to do as children is lie.
“It wasn’t me.”;
“I didn’t do it”;
“She hit me first”;
“It broke all by itself”…
(Is this behaviour learned, or do we just do it instinctively??)
And do the best liars make the best story tellers?
Well, all fiction is just that, fiction, and most fiction writers will admit they “borrow” facts from their experience (personal, newspaper stories, second hand stories) in order to make their fictional stories seem real.
So are writers really just stretching the truth and lying? Is what we do, simply taking lying to a whole new level?
Are we inventing a cover story for life, a lie told instead of reality, a falsehood, a fabrication… And what is it in our psyche that drives us to tell stories so profusely… are we born liars? Is it a predisposition, a genetic or hereditory condition…? Were our parents good story tellers and is it learned behaviour rather than something we were just born with? Who knows…
I think to answer the question above we need to address this one:
Do the best story tellers make the best liars?
Probably not… Well, at least, I hope not. (Certainly not in my case. I can’t even keep a secret for long without spilling the beans!)
Writers are able to spin a yarn, yes, but I think over imagination, tends to ruin the lying process in it’s simplest form. We tend to go OTT on the excuses, provide a whole reasoning process for why something “is”, and this exaggeration gives us away.
And if the best story tellers are not the best liars, then ergo, the best liars are not the best storytellers.
So are we ALL storytellers at heart then?
I would say “yes”. Storytelling in it’s embryonic form is lying… and I think if I went around canvassing on a street corner I would be hard put to find someone who didn’t tell a lie at least once in their life, or, dare I say it, once already this year. Obviously I’m not accusing everyone of perjury or fraud, but I think most of us have said some of these at least once:
“Oh wow… you’ve had your hair cut… it really suits you.”
“No… that doesn’t make you look fat…”
“No… it doesn’t taste burned…”
or to the tele-sales person:
“I’m afraid she’s not in at the moment, can I take a message?”
So think about it next time someone asks you “Does their bum look big.” Are you a natural storyteller?
But is a storyteller a writer?
No. Writers are people who put their stories on paper / computer. They actually do something with the lies they make up. Writers aren’t necessarily published, but if they are putting stories (or facts – lets not forget journalists here… or is that still storytelling…) on paper, then they are writers.
Writing is something you learn AFTER you learn how to lie. And in that respect, I think writers ARE liars who get old. But they aren’t GOOD liars who get old.
GOOD liars you’ll find in prison. It’s the bad liars you’ll find on the bookshelves!