“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” Stephen King
My audience is a mix of complete strangers, relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Some of those acquaintances are coworkers. I never know who is reading my posts, only which ones are being read.
When I started my blog five years ago, about 20 friends comprised my audience. Two years in, I wrote a post that went as ¨viral¨ as any of my posts have ever gone (close to 3,000 views in a single day) and my fan base grew to include more strangers than friends, not in small part due to me alienating some of the friends. Because honestly, if you know me, you don’t so much want to picture me doing some of the things depicted here.
Other friends, coworkers, and acquaintances freely admit they forget to read, which is fine with me. The more I delve into more personal topics, the more I understand how my nearest and dearest might want to skip it. I totally get it, and I’m okay with you guys being disloyal assholes.
Then there’s the fact that I write about them sometimes, or I should say my versions of them. My worst offense is Toxic Best Friend (TBF). She’s a work of fiction in the sense that I change details and blend numerous toxic best friends I’ve had over the years into one amalgamous anorexic, OCD, narcissistic Borderline. What can I say? I have a type.
Everyone gets a pseudonym that makes sense to me and occasionally to them. A few named themselves: Trixiebell, Beezy, Odie. I screwed up and used a real name once. In the comments, she exclaimed, ¨Don’t I get a pseudonym?¨ In a private chat, she told me it was okay, but she was startled to be called out by name like that. I felt like a shit. Still do.
Although, to be fair, it was Odie’s guest post and he did it. So, NOT IT!
But I copy edited and didn’t change it. I figured she’d think it was funny. I didn’t think anyone but her would know it was her.
This blog world of mine can feel like a work of fiction because in many ways it is. ¨I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction¨ (Katherine Ann Porter) and ¨All stories are true. But some of them never happened¨ (James A. Owen).
The people in my blog are real people who never existed. They are fictional characters in a true tale.
A few days ago, an acquaintance read one of my posts. This acquaintance, I’ll call him Jean-Paul, remarked upon the craziness that is the Toxic Best Friend story, and then ¨jokingly¨ warned me that I better not even dream of writing about him on my blog.
Hahahaha! Oh, no. Never, never!
But seriously, I can understand Jean-Paul’s
threat concern. Anyone who would write Toxic Best Friend Part 1: Always Bet on Bitch is not to be trusted.
I responded ambiguously that I had ¨barely¨ written about him, just to be a dick, then racked my brain. Have I written about Jean-Paul? If so, I definitely gave him a pseudonym. I’ve never had a reason to write about Jean-Paul. He’s never humiliated me at The Bellagio or broken up with me ten minutes before Open House.
But neither has anyone else. Those are true stories that are fiction about real people who don’t exist. They are tangent to the truth.
After reading Seeing Myself from Other Angles, my friend Clara admitted she was ¨dying to know who Donny is,¨ so I told her, and she was surprised. People can’t imagine us together. Even when we were together, people didn’t believe it. Crammed into a corner table at a pub in Galway, Ireland, Donny’s closest female friend Halina scowled at me and declared me ¨not even kind of his type.¨ She was right (she was also jealous as a motherfucker). He was completely my type, though. My long list of ex-lovers is lousy with people who were physically obsessed with me and emotionally indifferent to me.
Our mismatch resulted in dozens of funny stories. Unlike my Odie stories, they don’t quite feel like mine to publicly tell. Odie is mine. His persona is my invention, though I think most of you who know him would say his fiction is the truest fiction I tell. Besides, he doesn’t read the blog. Why should he? He lives it. He married it. Our stories are mine.
I think that’s what Jean-Paul was saying when he
promised to end my life told me to never even imagine writing about him. His stories aren’t mine to tell.
Anyway, he has nothing to worry about. I have absolutely never written about Jean-Paul on my blog, so we’re cool.
Your humour (Proper English leave the “u” alone) and truth are so fabulously blended I often wonder if a real person is even writing this blog!
Thank you, Meghan! Nice to hear from you.
I want my fiction and nonfiction clearly differentiated. I enjoy both but if it’s a blend or I can’t tell the difference between “real” and “made-up” then I completely lose interest. Perhaps I am naive but I assume that bloggers are writing the truth even if they sometimes exaggerate a bit or change names to protect the guilty. There is plenty of great fiction at the library if that’s what I am after. I find it disappointing and disingenuous that you have presented the content on your blog as fact only recently to reveal it as some sort of a blend. Not that you care, but you’ve lost me!
Of course I care! I’m sorry that this post didn’t have the effect I intended. I used paradoxes as a way to express the belief that all stories are true stories because they are all about being human. No one ever humiliated me in front of The Bellagio (because it was The W). Or dumped me 10 minutes before open house (because it was back to school night).
This blog is true insofar as anyone’s story is a version of their truth. Other people in the story would see it another way. But I don’t make things up. I’m sorry to disappoint or confuse. This blog represents my life very accurately. With different names and different locales, but never facts. At least, from my point of view.
Dooce is famous because she talked about coworkers. I have to be cautious. I never write about students, as much as I wish I could, because parents would lose their shit. Even parents whose students I don’t teach. Whenever I write about teaching and about student attitudes, someone projects and inevitably gets defensive. I still do it, though. I have much to say about education and my own experiences of it.
The experience of having Jean-Paul “jokingly” threaten me to never write about him rattled me a little, because I probably have before, though I haven’t been able to find any direct mentions since he’s not someone I’m close with. It made me feel like I should put out a general disclaimer. A sort of “Ha, ha, ha! Just kidding, folks!” But I am not disingenuous and I have presented my life here honestly and (too) accurately. Others’ lives I have muddled a bit, but I have not fictionalized the essence of our interactions. All of the dialogue between Toxic Best Friend and I in the Toxic Best Friend stories is 100% accurate. I have an auditory “phonographic” memory. For better and for worse, I remember exactly what was said to me for all of time. I never make up dialogue. Ever.
I hope that helps clarify. As always, if a reader is confused or didn’t get my point, the fault lies with me for not effectively conveying it.