Truth, Lies & Alice Hoffman

I came across this quote from the great novelist Alice Hoffman and it nestled in my head. You know how you get these bits of information you can’t stop thinking about?

It reminded me of something my oldest son Will once said to me. I was telling an anecdote about something and I was embroidering it. As one does. Because you have to if you want to make the story interesting, and he said to me, “Mom, you’re such a liar.”

I was, in fact, lying, but with a purpose. The story needed a bit of shaping. I was not going to sit there and tell a boring story without any sort of a punch line. There was truth in the story, but it needed a boost. This is the same reason I wear make-up.

By contrast, when I’m writing a novel, I’m trying to figure out the truth. That sounds sort of ponderous. What I mean is that when I’m writing fiction I’m trying to understand what characters are doing and there’s no point in lying to myself, even if the characters are lying.

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2 thoughts on “Truth, Lies & Alice Hoffman

  1. Susan, this is so true! Even as child I was always embellishing the truth to make it more interesting–or mysterious. Now I get to use my prevarication to good purpose.

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