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Chatterbox: Of fact and fiction


Creative writing is a most wonderful thing. It’s fantasy based on reality, and it’s reality disguised as fantasy. In so being, it is telling us something that could be true, but telling us, in advance, that it isn’t.

Sometimes, it puts us in touch with issues we might not be able to digest, tolerate or even discuss in the open.

Fiction has long been constructed of particular, recommended components. We usually have the protagonist, the antagonist, the rising action, the climax and the falling action. These were long taught as the formula, but when creating fiction we really shouldn’t be limited in any way. The reader is the only judge.

Fiction needs no parameters because, after all, what is fiction, really?

It’s merely one great lie, and all that separates its creator from being a true liar is that he or she has told us, up front, in advance, clear as a bell, that what we are about to allow ourselves to be drawn into is just that … one great lie, presented for our entertainment only.

Books for adults that are research based and informative are read as such. Still, it’s always been common practice, even today, to put something into kids’ entertainment and literature to keep the adults intrigued especially in stories that we’re reading to the wee ones.

As strictly a creative process, fiction has stimulated that same creative process in countless writers and entertained countless readers too, of course. However, as such, fictional writing has also, and very importantly, long empowered its creators with a very long rope.

Under its guise of fantasy and through techniques such as personification as well as the transfer of personalities to various other types and classes of people, fiction has made its writers uniquely able to speak the unspeakable.

Most often without restraint or the blowback that truth can create under certain conditions, its writers have vocalized theories and dissent, planted ideas, birthed thoughts, disclosed hidden truths and divulged much real information without really reporting any news.

Fiction has empowered many and freed many more to share their knowledge, suspicions and thoughts as well. In this way, it has played a very real and important role of enlightenment from very fictionalized and, often, non-existent places.

“Animal Farm” and “Alice in Wonderland” come to mind. To many, these have long been believed to have teeth in politics, disguising leadership and a political climate too taboo to be discussed openly, but there are others which could be translated to politically based conditions.

One favorite for many of us is “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Nearly no one today can know what L. Frank Baum had in his plan during its creation. Sure, it could just be a fantasy about a sad little girl in a small town being run into corners by a pushy, wealthy witch of a resident.

Still, the deeper we go into the dream, the more connections to politics, however local they may be, we find.

The witch is the black-hearted wealthy Elmira Gulch who owns half of town and takes out her unhappiness on little people, little girls, and little dogs. Enter the wizard, who is really no one special. His accidental descent from the sky dazzles the minions. Too enamored, mystified, and gullible to realize he’s a fake, they endow him with mystery and power. The man who remains behind the curtain is the reality of the leader whose stage presence and inaccessibility keep him one step from being found out.

“Lord of the Flies,” a teen adventure fantasy, disclosed leadership in all its perversion as fear, lies, and division stake their precarious and ever destructive claim to the power of power itself. In Moby Dick, Ahab, an obsessed and mentally unstable ship’s captain, ravenously seeks vengeance on a nearly mythical whale. His entire crew has been sworn to unquestioned obedience, ultimately, costing all of them their lives, save one.

The list goes on.

Genius writers and their clever creativity have long delivered warnings and information. In climates unhealthy for it, they printed the truths of worlds and wars, and of empowered royalty, dictators, and leadership, whether elected or self-proclaimed. When these truths couldn’t be disclosed as fact, they were disguised as fiction, and even as our youth was entertained by its pretense, adults were subliminally enlightened.

It bears repeating that, with fiction, we are warned in advance that what we are about to allow ourselves to be drawn into is just that … one great lie, presented for our entertainment only.

In that way, it’s much kinder than reality.