Two years ago, I read a short story I had written called “The Cannibals of Kitsap.” The story follows a boy who develops an eating disorder after his father loses his job. After the reading, a woman walked up to ask me how the story ended. “Did your father find another job after that,” she asked. I was thrown off. She thought the plot was autobiographical, that this had actually happened to me. I had to admit that everything was fabricated, based on an idea I’d had rather than reality.
As writers, one of the first pieces of advice many of us receives is to “write what you know.” Some people take that advice literally and only write about their own experience. Many readers have caught on and expect that the all fiction is thinly veiled personal recollection. That may work for some writers, but my life isn’t all that interesting. Fiction should be grounded in reality, but I don’t like limiting myself to my own life. My imagination is not that small, nor are those of most writers I know.
This week, I’ll be playing with the idea of truth and lies in fiction as part of the third annual Creative Colloquy Crawl. I’ll be hosting a reading at on Tuesday, October 3 at 8pm at Doyle’s Public House called “Lies, Damn Lies and Fiction.” Local writers Jenni Prange Boran, Sam Snoek-Brown and Jonah Barrett will share stories and then we’ll have a Q&A style discussion about what in their work is based on true events and what is made-up. The Creative Colloquy Crawl is a literary pub crawl in downtown Tacoma that brings together lovers of the written word together for an evening of great storytelling. I hope to see you there!
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker in Tacoma, WA. His fiction has appeared in Creative Colloquy.