Writers Are Liars & Thieves

20 Oct

Author Elmer Kelton said: “Someone has said that fiction by definition is a lie. By extension this means that fiction writers are liars. In that context, I will admit to it, and go a step further. I will say that fiction writers are thieves.”

It’s not just fiction writers, though.  Poets too.  All writers are liars and thieves.

Seriously.  Do not believe a word we say.  And do not trust us to leave your lives out of our writing.  Our existence is based on creating people and places and stories out of nothing.     This honed skill, over time, transforms us into ridiculous lying machines.  We will test reality with our own lying capabilities to see just how well we do in comparison to our writing world.  If we can convince you that there was a war on Middle Earth with tiny midgets called ‘hobbits’, then we can most certainly convince you that we were not out at a bar last night drunkenly hitting on ten different women.

But lying isn’t just where it stops.  Stealing is a wonderful tactic we also employ.  Like I said, writers spend their lives creating something out of nothing.  That can sometimes be difficult though.  When we have trouble creating something new, we will gladly and unscrupulously create something out of something that already exists.  That doesn’t mean stealing other people’s works exactly.  It happens, but more often, we will steal the lives of those closest to us.  We will happily pick out your worst features and project them onto paper in a grotesque misinterpretation of your life so as to cover up that its really you.  So when you hear the phrase “write what you know”, beware.  That means if we know you, we will write about you.

But that doesn’t mean to avoid writers.  If you can get on our good sides, we make great friends to lie for you or make fun of people you don’t like in our work.  So find a writer and make friends.  But beware setting us off.  We will have you murdered in a short story.

In case you were wondering, this is Elmer Kelton


– Andrew Howard Baker
Poetry Committee Chair


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