Truth or Fiction

This startled me: a writing program faculty member stating that she writes nonfiction because it allows her to control how much truth she shares.

In fiction, she feels, she has to expose the deep feelings that drive the character. In nonfiction, she can choose what to include.

That certainly puts an idea on its head, and it’s got me thinking, I’ll say that.

I have always read that you must write your Truth when writing nonfiction. My Truth will most likely not be seen the same way by friends or family. And my Truth may offend. (So Phillip Lopate tells us to have friends to spare, and better to come from a large family.)

But my teacher is right that in nonfiction we choose what to include, what to leave out. Not only the Truth that might offend, but the ugly, distasteful, unflattering, and even unsavory voices in our heads, the little demons we carry with us, that make us flawed, but also human.

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