Monday, October 15, 2012

Lies Writers Tell

Due to waking up to total blackness and no alarm this morning--power failure!--and enduring an "on again, off again" situation all day, this is going to be a very short post. But hopefully you'll appreciate the pep talk message.

We've been talking lately about how important it is as writers to "Never Give Up! Never Surrender!" No matter how much talent you possess, you won't succeed if you can't weather the disappointments and rejections. There are times you have to dig deep to find the mental fortitude to swim against the tide. And there are times you have to take that Never Give Up attitude to a whole new level and strap on the booster rockets.

On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a workshop by bestselling author Brenda Novak on Metaphors and Subtext. Fascinating! I'll share some of the info I gleaned with you in a later post, but this blog is about a different subject. During the course of the workshop, one of my fellow chapter-mates told a story about a phone call she'd just received. The subject was:

Lies Writers Tell

Okay, we're all human and we probably feel bad about a...*ahem*...misstatement we told at some point in our life--"No, Mom, I didn't eat all the oatmeal cookies. Maybe it was the dog."--but it was a different kind of lie she was talking about. The "lies" she was referencing are the lies you tell when your editor or agent calls out of the blue and asks: "Can you do [fill in the monster task] by [fill in the ridiculously short deadline]" and you respond, confidently, of course (though it's the furthest thing from what you're really thinking or feeling), "Sure! Absolutely! I can do that. I can get it done then." (Subtext: I am SuperWriter! See my cape billow in the wind!)

Some might call this phenomenon a Can Do Attitude, but let's face's a lie. And not the little, white, angel-winged sort. It's a BIG FAT LIE! Those tiny little voices in the back of our head are really saying, "OMG, I can't do that. And I can't get it done then. It's impossible! I'll never be able to manage it!" But our mouths say what all success-driven, self-prescribed writerly masochists do...we say "YES I CAN!!!" And we say it cheerfully and happily and with those great big exclamation points behind the words.

Oh yes, we are lying.

But then...

We do it.


Against all possible odds and laws of nature.

Because we're writers, and we know oh so well how to turn out a really good lie. Heck, we do it all the time in our stories. We do it when our total bastard male MC transforms into a shiny, swoon worthy hero--showing himself not to be an utter write-off of a jerk at all. We lied.

We do it when our self-doubting, defeatist heroine emerges as a confident, carpe diem goddess--her inner Amelia Earhart bursting through the shy bookworm illusion like football players smashing through a paper image of their mascot. Ta-da! We so lied about her!

We lie in our sly plot twists and subtle non-disclosures and tricky red herrings. Let's face it. We're practiced at the art of lying. The good kind! Yes, Virginia, there is a good kind. The kind writers tell.

And when we redeem those unredeemable characters, meet those impossible deadlines or complete those inconceivable tasks, guess what? Then it's no longer a lie. Then it's truth. Then it's success!

So next time you're faced with an impossible request, don't be afraid to tell a lie. Say yes. Say it with giant exclamation points behind it. Take that plunge. Then move the Earth and sky to make it happen. Because only then can you tear off the Clark Kent lie-tie to show the whole world that big red S on your chest.

Well played, SuperWriter, well played.

~~~ * ~~~

Speaking of SuperWriters, please stop back on Tuesday and Wednesday for guest blogs ~~ with giveaways! ~~ by two of SFR's SuperWriters: 

A. R. Norris -- Tuesday, October 16th
Diane Dooley -- Wednesday, October 17th

Have a stellar day!


  1. Lie (and smile) until even you believe it!

  2. Lol, I have to confess I asked for more time on my first set of content edits because I got within a week of the deadline and couldn't see any hope of getting them done short of not sleeping. I did make the other deadlines though. So I guess I don't qualify for the big red S. =/

  3. Sure you do, Pippa. Compromise is another acquired skill for writers. :)

  4. Right, Donna. Or lie...then make it happen!


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