Truth by Jonathan Gould
It’s really great to be here at Alchemy of Scrawl, and many thanks to Coral for her participation in this event.
Today, I thought the topic of my post would be the truth. Funny kind of topic for a tour which is supposed to be all about fantasy. You would think the emphasis would be on making stuff up, rather than telling the truth. But there’s method to my madness, believe it or not. I’ll try to explain.
I’m really into telling the truth. To be honest, I’m not claiming it’s because I’m such a pure and saintly person. The main reason I always (mostly) tell the truth is because I’m really, really bad at lying. When I was a kid, I could never get away with anything – my parents could always see right through me. And as for poker, it’s not a game I’ve ever been able to play with any aptitude – if I ever got a good hand, the people in the next suburb would know about it.
So what has that got to do with writing fantasy? How does that have any effect on stories which are primarily about the products of an overactive imagination?
In my writing, one of my major objectives is to tell the truth as I see it. Ok, maybe not completely literally. I know the truth is that people can’t just fall off the world and start walking around in outer space. And there’s definitely no such thing as a Kertoobi, or a Doosie, or a seldom seen but much discussed diperagoff.
But beneath all the fanciful elements in my stories, I’m always trying to create some sort of truthful representation of the world as I see it. That’s really important to me. I’m prepared to sacrifice plot elements or characters or even (shock horror) jokes if they don’t contain a ring of truth about them.
And that’s why fantasy is so great. You can remove all the trappings of the everyday, the things we’ve become so used to taking for granted that we’ve long since stopped noticing how ridiculous they are. But when you remove those trappings and relocate everything to another place, like maybe an asteroid field in outer space or a land filled with wild and wonderful beings, you can really start to notice all of the craziness and absurdity of the world around us.
The effect is a bit like what happens in my all-time favourite story and one of my great inspirations: The Emperor’s New Suit. It takes a child to point out to everybody else that the emperor really has no clothes. Fantasy can be a lot like that. When your bearings are removed and you’re in a new and unfamiliar world, the wool can be lifted from your eyes and you can suddenly see clearly the things you didn’t notice before.
Of course, truth can be relative. Not everybody will agree on everything, so when people read my stories, they may not see the same truths that I see. That’s the wonderful thing about writing. You put in your truths and people can discover their own as they read.
But hey, we don’t want to be getting too heavy and profound. So, in parting, let me just say that while everything you read in my stories is the absolute truth, it’s also completely made up as well.
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