Wednesday, July 01, 2009


So I was walking down the dock minding my own business...wait that's a lie.

Writers NEVER mind their own business. So I was walking down the dock and saw a squid hanging out so I had to whip out my iPhone and take its photo.
But anyway back to my lying.
It was Sunday school. I think I was maybe four or five. I had an option. Keep the dime or put it in the collection plate. I swallowed it.
"Where did that dime go?" Mrs. McLaren asked.
"Um...I lost it." (Said with shifting eyes and finger in mouth)
I really can't remember anything else because I was upside down being shaken...suffice it to say my teacher got that dime out of me. I knew I had to perfect my fibs.
Fast forward fifty years.
Authors are full of it. Lying I mean. Well, exaggeration. Eavesdropping on conversations, meeting a person with a really cool name that you appropriate for your next book, imagining all sorts of dire possibilities when a friend is late for lunch.
I was speaking with a book club a few weeks ago and someone asked me what I thought the BEST quality a writer could have...and um...I told them.
Be a liar.
Be the best possible liar you can be.
And then lie some more.
All learned from Sunday school so long ago...

NOTE: Check out cool AUCTION HERE.


Margaret Dilloway said...

I love eavesdropping, especially in restaurants where they have one looong couch/booth thing and then many small tables and you're RIGHT NEXT to the next party. Best eavesdropping situation ever.

Kim Stagliano said...

Is that where the term Drop a Dime came from, Pat? Margaret, that's research, not eavesdropping. :) I find story ideas in scenery, things, objects as much as in people. For instance, I bought a recipe box at an antique store because I liked the retro 50s art. Lo and behold it was loaded with a woman's handwritten recipe cards. Think of the possibilities for stories there. I have book in my head, "The Recipe Box." I think I need Holly Kennedy to write it though. Holly, are you available to ghost write for me? :)

D. Robert Pease said...

My dad is a great story-teller. Not the fictional, sitting around the camp-fire ghost story kind. Just the everyday experiences of his life kind. Ever since I was a kid I can remember listening to him tell stories of things he'd done in his life. I discovered around high school that I had no such gift. I couldn't remember what happened last week, let alone what happened five years ago.

So I started to concoct stories up about my exploits. I worked at Disney World for a semester in college (sweeping cigarette butts) and I had all kinds of story-lines I doled out. My favorite one was I went to the lady who made our name tags and told her I lost mine. And I had her make me a "Chip" name tag (My first name is Dale) and I went around telling everyone I was twins. "Yeah, my parents were huge Disney fans, and they named us after those annoying chipmunks."

Another time I was working at a rock concert selling T-shirts and I convinced a group of girls I had fled South Africa during apartheid because I didn't like how the blacks were treated. (I'm white, born and raised in Ohio but I did a pretty good South African/British accent.) I even took it a step further and told them I was number 364th in line for the throne of England.

Then somewhere around the end of my college years, I started to realize something. I wasn't telling stories, I was flat out lying. My conscience started to eat away at me a bit. So I gave it up. Quit cold turkey. Got boring.

Then I discovered writing. The beautiful thing about writing is you can lie all over the place. You can make up the grandest stories, and as long as you make it believable, you can lie, lie lie. I was hooked. I guess I never really thought about it before, but this is probably the main reason I like writing so much. While I'm writing I can at least capture a little bit of that feeling, back when I wasn't so ordinary, and had visions of being King.

ORION said...

OMG my coffee came right out my nose when I read your comment robert!!

Jay said...

Ah, yes, eavesdropping and lying. Found the perfect couple as for background scenery complete with the airport.

Demon Hunter said...

You're right, Pat. Our imaginations are key. We make up the grandest stories, and actually get paid for it. Cool. :-)

Ric said...

Lie? Who would ever do such a thing? My worst problem is lying to myself about how much work I actually have been doing on the WIP.
Yuppers, lies will come back to get you every time.

Chris Eldin said...

The auction is FANTASTIC!! Thanks for sharing the link! Love your post also!

Holly Kennedy said...

I agree -- writing fiction means one must be able to lie with finesse!