“Other Bodies, Ourselves: The Mask of Fiction by John Gregory Brown
Reading “Other Bodies, Ourselves: The Mask of Fiction” was extremely interesting. First, what does Brown say about writers being liars? Well, I have a problem here and it comes to the word ‘lie’. In addition, I wonder if I would consider writing fiction as telling lies or if I would consider writing fiction as expressing imagination and creativity. I think the later goes more with my way of perceiving a writer’s work or any artist’s work. Indeed, creating fiction is showing a capacity of pure imagination. A fiction writer creates characters and situations out of his/her sense of creativity. I would not say a result of a creation in a lie. If we consider a lie as something that is not true, we could say that if someone says the sky is orange that is a lie. Unless that is the color a fiction writer gives to the sky of the imaginary world he/she is creating. Would that be a lie? A lie would be something like a kid telling his mom he did his homework before starting to play a video game. There is no creation there. I don’t know if I’m getting my point across here. I just want to say that I wouldn’t consider a fiction story as a lie.
“It is both a great privilege and a terrible struggle for fiction writers to offer so much in their work, to concoct stories that attempt to inch their way toward an answer to that difficult question of why we do what we do, what it is exactly that we hope to offer the world. What is the meaning of fiction?”
Here, Brown presents two good and smart questions. Two questions we, as writers, should give some thought and try to get our own answers from our individual point of view. Without following the crowd. Daring to jump out of the box. As writers, we are born with a capacity of observation. That observation makes us wonder about the realities around us and about our own reality as well. We search for answers. We have creative ideas of how things would be. We start creating characters, setting, stories, a whole world of fiction and imagination that is vivid in our minds, crying to come out. We listen and translate those voices in our heads into words. A new story is born. Through our creative work, we hope to offer the world a chance to dream. We hope to offer magic moments in which the reader can escape from the daily routine to swim in the sea of our stories, our creations. We hope to have something meaningful to offer to whoever is ready and wants to hear. The meaning of fiction is translated as pure creativity and imagination. Fiction is the place where writer and reader become one. Where the only limits are the limits we put to our minds. At least, in my world.
Brown concludes, and here, I agree with him:
“The best I can offer is this humble reply. The meaning of fiction is, I believe, the grand and glorious leap we make, both as we speak and as we listen, from our own lives to those of others. The meaning of fiction is our empathy, our ability to recognize ourselves in others, others in ourselves. The teller of stories, the writer of fiction, wears a mask that possesses, if the writer has done his job well, the remarkable power to reveal the writer’s true face, the writer’s truest features. And the listener, the reader of fiction, wears his own mask, a mask that the story strips away to reveal what is nothing less than a startling and miraculous transformation: for the face beneath that mask has become the face of human tragedy and struggle and triumph and grace. It is a face, lo and behold, much like that of fiction’s characters, a face precisely like that of the writer’s. It is the face of empathy, a face always ready to be reshaped, reconfigured, and ultimately transformed.”