Writing it as fiction

“Writing truth as fiction must never be done with a heavy hand,” the old man said, quoting a line from his last published short story.

“You want to write what really happened as a fictional book, that’s fine, leave nothing important out of the story, at the same time, you do the reader no favors trying to be cute about how this fictional story may be based closely on deeply experienced personal events, or events torn from the front page of the newspaper.”

“So, for example, avoiding the heavy hand, you’d never have a character immediately bring up Larry Fucking Elder and the latest California fucking recall of the Democrat [sic] governor.”

The old man shook his head. “Perfect example, and self-proving one too. It’s too late, once you do that kind of move, to undo it.”

“But isn’t that what editing’s for, man?” I said, though I was somebody else, an entirely imaginary person, living in an alternate universe. “but now that I’ve sullied my lips by mentioning Larry Elder…”

“Fine,” the old man said, “this is worth a footnote, I suppose. When the aptly named Dick Cheney set off the California Energy Crisis by deregulating energy on the West Coast, and you know the minutes of his ‘Energy Task Force’ meetings with oil executives and the identities of those executives were never revealed, per Antonin Opus Dei Scalia, they recalled a Democrat, Grey Davis, over the budget shortfall produced, down to the dollar, by the soaring price of unregulated energy on the west coast, and you quickly had the celebrity Arrrrrnold in there – probably the last reasonable Republican in office. Scalia, for his part, was huffy when asked, decried it as ‘a sad day in America” when an American journalist would ask a sitting Supreme Court Originalist about the appearance of impropriety of him flying around on Dick Cheney’s private jet while he was deliberating over a lawsuit brought against Cheney.”

“USA! USA!!!” alt-me said.

“Just one other thing, the California recall is another example of shit like the Electoral College, the filibuster, tools to keep the hands of the elites on the reins of power in an electoral democracy. As a result of this bizarre legal provision, a guy who won 62% of California’s vote can be ousted by a guy who later wins 14% of the vote, after a 51-49 decision to take the elected governor out.”

“Dass sum shit, as my father used to say,” I said, as not I.

“Living in a time when a hate jockey from talk radio gets the highest civilian honor this nation has hung around his neck by the prime beneficiary of his years of hate speech, it makes perfect sense that the tutor of American Jewish Nazi Stephen Miller, a status quo loving black former talk radio celebrity, at that, is poised to be California’s next governor if they can turn out a 51% share of their angry base in this emergency election to oust the governor elected by 62% of California voters. Makes perfect sense, right?”

“Yeah,” someone said, echoing my thoughts exactly.

“The intrusive narrator is another thing to be on constant guard against. We all know that move, Bob Hope looking directly at the camera, breaking the fourth wall and confiding to the audience ‘this is the last movie I ever do for Paramount, they let a bit player from MGM walk in right before the credits roll to steal my girl… sheesh’.”

“We hear that,” they said.

“Another thing, these pronouns y’all use these days,” said the old man.

“It have a problem with that?”

“Never mind, kid. It’s all good, as we say. I just wanted to give you my two cents about the tricky nature of writing fiction from your own life. Especially if you’re trying to take a political, humanist, stand during brutally political, inhuman times,” the old man took a thoughtful swallow of his scotch. “Nazi novelists are never at a loss for their plot lines. Anti-Nazi novelists have to be a lot smarter if they want to write something that could have any effect on those wavering toward joining the exciting mob.”

“The Exciting Mob,” she said, “it sounds like a movie from the fifties with Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin.”

“One last thing,” said the old man, “before I fade back into the ether of this guy’s imagination,” and he pointed at yours truly, incorrigible as Silvio Berlusconi in pursuit of a beautiful young hooker, “if you’re doing this to show off, just stop it. Any moron, literally, can opine without the least censorship or even the guiding hand of common sense, spew those opinions into a few sloppy paragraphs and hit ‘publish’. If you employ a savvy ‘social media’ plan, you can reach countless people with your half-formed, ill-informed yet heartfelt and deeply believed opinions.”

“What is your point, old man?”

“If you’re doing this just to show off, please just stop it.”

“OK, fine.”

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