A writer’s problem does not change . . . It is always how to write truly and, having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes part of the experience of the person who reads it.
— Ernest Hemingway
Further to thoughts on the personas and vanities of the blogger, in furtherance of the idea of the ‘fictive dream’, how concerned are you, reader, about the truth of another’s writing? That is, if I say a piece of writing to be the absolute truth of the matter, that the characters did in fact do this or that, or that this place is exactly how the place actually is, are you perturbed to find out that it isn’t so?
Of course, when we’ve created our fictions, we’re engaging in a form of contractual arrangement with our readers: I commit to writing so as to keep the ‘real world’ from your door; you commit to believing in what I write. In these fictions we create, we can write characters into real places, though the reader may believe in one and not the other. If the reader believes in both, and then finds errors in one or the other, will the whole thing become false to them? How forgiving are you?
Once, on Barcelona’s harbour front, I looked out at the rows of palm trees marching off towards the distant hills. The breeze was warm and swayed the cable cars of the Olympic village behind me. It was a quiet Sunday. There was a storm brewing, angling along the coast from Salou, drenching the plastic chairs and tourist paraphernalia there. That day, I looked out at the palm trees and thought of onward journeys. Ines would be finishing work, in the side street restaurant off of La Rambla, at five. She’d said we were to meet. She’d said it that way, the dark strips of her fine black hair falling over her serious face. I turned back to the Greenpeace ship, which was moored nearby. I touched her hull, thinking of onward journeys and of arrangements I should be honouring.
How forgiving are you? Is the whole of this now false when I tell you that some of it, at least, is true? Do the parts that I’ve created, which you can only guess at, leave an odd taste? Have you been cheated when I tell you that only some of this is true?
Perhaps, as I have known — or perhaps believed — for a long time now, all stories are true: the story now exists, so its existence is not false.
Is the fictive dream of my time in Barcelona, that one I hoped to create in you, still intact? Are you willing to believe in the truth of stories? This ‘writing truly’ is more difficult than it, at first, might seem.