02 February 2009

Get Your Facts Right

I am a writer – I LOVE fiction.

For me to have to look at the facts of life is like being forced to eat dirt. It’s bland, uninteresting and too difficult. Mostly I see no sense in doing it. If someone faces me with the truth, I ask – what is it for? Why should I be able to do it?

But here is why.

Has anyone ever told you that happiness lies in accepting life as it is? Making peace with reality? I hope so. Because this actually is true. But, the eternal question is – how do you make peace with reality if you don’t know what is real. A change of values is needed here. Whereas fiction is beautiful, imaginative and creative and definitely has its place in novels, a reality check is a hugely underestimated but deeply rewarding pursuit. This is what I have been after recently. And with one purpose only. To learn how to accept.

I guess you probably know that a certain situation may consist of a limited number of facts and limitless stories that we can tell about them. Two people see a glass filled up to half of its content – for the optimist, this is a half-filled glass and for the pessimist, it’s half-empty. One person will always tell you a story of their life in a heroic way, the other will moan like an eternal victim. They might have been in the same shoes, you will never know. The power of our narration is boundless.

The point is to strip away the narration and keep the facts. This way you win.

I want to show you a story of becoming a writer: fiction and facts.

I am not writing hard enough.
My editor is putting pressure on me.
My inspiration sucks. I will never be a good writer.
If I don’t become an established writer, I am a loser.
The sales of my book are really low. It means people don’t like my work.

I have written 42 pages of my novel.
My editor emailed me 3 times to ask about my progress.
Last chapter of my novel took more time and effort than previous ones.
I write. This is accomplishment.
My book sold 960 copies in the last year.

Do you notice how the fiction paragraph creates pain? And how, for some unfathomable reason, we really LOVE to wallow in it. Can you also see that it is much easier to accept the list of facts? There is almost nothing personal about it. No matter how much you resist, the truth is, life is not personal. Only the story is.

Though I LOVE telling stories, I have decided to limit this activity for when I sit down in front of the blank screen. Don’t worry! You’ll still enjoy my pain-driven characters who run around in circles trying to figure out their lives. You’ll savour their drama, laugh at their ridiculous behaviour, fret about the outcomes of their decisions just as much as I have in the process of writing. But this is all I give of me. When it comes to life, from now on, I am getting my facts right. This is a win-win situation. Wanna try it yourself?