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The Truth. Fiction or Non-fiction?

By June 21, 2011 No Comments

I was tying my bootlaces. The coarse cross braid cut into my fingers as I pushed the loop through and pulled the laces tight.

And I woke up.

The feeling of the laces on my fingers remained, as I looked out the window at the mountains in the first light of the day. A touch of pink brushed the clouds still remaining on the ridges, remnants from the last few days’ storms.

And I wondered about writing.

At dinner with a friend the other night, we talked about writing, universality, and how you touch people with your words.

We talked of the truth in non-fiction, of the emotional truth in fiction and how you blend both with your experience when you try to write the narrative history of a generation or two before you. How your character, your experience, informs and helps flesh out the related characters of 50 or even 100 years before.

And we asked, is that honest? I said yes. She was not so sure.

I hiked up the bank of a boulder-strewn creek. My bootlace loosened, perhaps caught on a willow as I passed. Stopping, I put my foot up on a boulder, looked upstream and saw a grey water ouzel, bobbing, bobbing on a rock maybe 20 feet in front of me. The rock was splashed with water, but only half wet, darkened, cooled in the heat of the day. The ouzel dipped into the creek and I moved to tie my shoe.

It was a dream.

Was it true?

Does that make it fiction or non-fiction?

If it appears in an essay like this, does it have more validity than if I fold the experience and the dream into a piece of fiction and use it to fill out a day following a character in the story.

Was it even a dream?

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