When I tell people that I’m a writer, I quite often get the question, “Do you want to write a book?”
I then respond with, “No,” and that’s that.
Except with one friend in particular. “No” just doesn’t sit well with him, and he always comes back with “Why?” He simply can’t accept that I don’t have any desire to write a book.
So the usual “you should write a book” topic came up once again in one of our recent conversations.
After I reiterated the reasons why writing a book isn’t on my list of things to do, he concluded, “Well, you should help me write a screenplay then.”
“If it’s a screenplay based on a true story, then maybe,” I answered. “I don’t do fiction.”
Of course he can’t accept that either, and pulls out the usual “Why?”
In this instance, though, I wasn’t so prepared to explain. I thought about giving him the ole’ “Just because,” but I wanted to nip this conversation in the bud before it turned into a weekly routine.
So I thought about it, and this is what I came up with.
For one thing, I don’t have a very creative imagination. I’m not sure why; I just don’t. I’m simply not good at making up stories. Even ask my mother; I’ve tried to sell her a fabrication a time or two. They didn’t work. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I denounced my imagination a long time ago, thus stunting its growth.
But I don’t write fiction primarily because I don’t believe there’s a need for it. There are so many amazing and true stories to be told, why waste time making ones up?
Writing fiction almost feels wrong to me. It’s almost like I’m not taking full advantage of this magnificent world in front of me that I know so little about. I don’t want to miss out on anything that’s real.
Folktales were originally told to teach people the difference between right and wrong. For children, that makes sense. It allows us to simplify life into little tales that neatly conclude with a lesson. I can still remember the stories my Nana used to tell me conveying the importance of kindness, honesty and hard work – like the one about the little boy who was rewarded with a puppy because he did extra chores.
But what about adults? I feel like I'm morally responsible to learn as much as possible about our universe because I can. With technology at our fingertips, there’s no accuse not to. I don't need make believe things and people to convey good and evil. They already exist.
And the thing that confuses me the most is that the majority of fiction is based on reality. Unless you’re writing about vampires and werewolves, you’re writing about the human experience, which is a real thing. So why not just convey the human experience through real people?
Every person has a story, and every person deserves to have their story be told. Real people deserve our compassion, and that's why I write about them.