Mining for Truth

This unrelated photo is my way of begging my husband to draw something, anything, for my blog.

Novels I have written: 1

Posts I have written: 50

Articles I have written: I’ve lost count

When I was in middle school and extremely excited about getting to (finally!) wear some makeup, my mom would always meet me at the front door to tell me goodbye.

“You’re going to school like that?”

“Yeeaahh,” I would say, letting my eyes roll up in my head. Mothers. Honestly.

This was her way of drawing my attention to the ridiculous, copious amounts of green eyeshadow I insisted on wearing for at least a year. She was trying to tell me the truth in the way only a mother can.

Later on, in college, I was forced to took a course in philosophy: The Philosophy of Art. We went around and around in circles about truth and beauty and truth and art, and it made my head hurt. I did not go on to become a philosopher.

But I finally got it, years later. All of us: artists, writers, actors… we are all truth-tellers. Amen. End of story. (That class could have been condensed into one concise sentence and saved me a lot of angst.) Obviously, this is the truth as we see it, as we hear it, as we feel it, as we remember it.

As a non-fiction writer, I get to interview people and use their own words to tell the story of their volunteering, disease, job or performance. Truth telling (on my part) is assumed. Truth is the goal.

Writing about my own memories and life is a way to tell about the world as I see it: the truth of my experiences, the interactions I’ve had, the stories I’ve been told.

As a fiction writer, I get the opportunity to climb inside a character and see things from his or her perspective. It’s one reason I love first person narration: as the writer (and reader), you can see all of the flaws in that character’s logic and viewpoint that you may not be able to see as clearly in your own life.

Last night, I was reading out loud to my kids The Hunt for Dark Infinity, the second book in the 13th Reality series by James Dashner.

A bad guy masquerading as a good guy was urging the Realitants to do what he asked… as the spinning, angry noise of things approaching grew louder and louder. And they were still approaching. Still getting louder. And the guy was still talking. And the kids/Realitants were deliberating and arguing.

“It kind of bothers me in books when something bad is about to happen, but there’s a long time between the characters knowing it and anything happening,” my daughter said. “It’s not like real life.”

Impending doom should feel more imminent, not leave you time to tie your shoes in a double knot before you run.

Or maybe it’s like when I was driving in a parking deck one time and went around a corner and my Coke started to spill and a car started coming towards me and instead of worrying about the car, I grabbed my drink to save it from spilling and the whole thing took about two seconds but felt like two hours.

When I sit at the computer to put my thoughts in order, the essence of what happened is the goal: the truth, and if possible, the humor that goes along with it.

Because life is funny, sometimes darkly humorous, sometimes light and fluffy, and sometimes unexpectedly. It’s the reward at the end, the cherry on top, the homemade whipped cream, when you spend your time mining for truth.

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14 thoughts on “Mining for Truth

  1. Running in Mommyland says:

    I love your daughter’s response to that segment of the book. It’s interesting to hear her reaction, but also your interpretation of the diet coke taking years to spill in the moment that it happened. I guess it’s part of the challenge when writing? You describe it perfectly…. like mining for the truth!

    What’s the name of your first novel? I want to read it!

    • annewoodman says:

      Thanks–my first novel will likely never see the light of day. It will be one of those “in the drawer” learning experiences. I’m very glad I wrote it. Now I have to write another one that people might get to read!

      • Running in Mommyland says:

        That’s fantastic! I wonder if mine will be an in the drawer learning experience? There’s beauty in that! The wonderful thing about writing is that you can hide it for as long as you need to or throw it to the flames. A few of my old journals ended that way…

  2. crubin says:

    Sure hope that Coke was worth it. Yikes! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Luckily, we all escaped unscathed. My heart didn’t stop hammering in my chest for about two hours, though. It felt so silly that I went for the minor thing (Coke) instead of impending disaster (car hitting me). Live and learn, eh?

      • crubin says:

        But I think what you did is what many of us would do. It’s a natural impulse. A muscle activity that occurs before we give it much thought. Glad you were all okay. 🙂

  3. Holly says:

    Interesting! I hadn’t thought about writing that way before, with truth being the goal.

    I had remembered you wearing lots of blue eyeshadow, not green….hmm. Guess our versions of the truth are different on your 80’s style points! 😉

  4. Melissa says:

    You bring up a whole new philosophical discussion…Is truth subjective? Yikes!
    I love that you try to find the humor in everything. It’s there, we just have to dig deep sometimes. Hmmm….the truth in humor…..or the humor in truth….I think I need to step away from the caffiene today.

    • annewoodman says:

      I think it must be, on some level. I definitely don’t want to take a class about it, though. ; ) I think I might need more caffeine. Pass some of your extra over here.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    Your daughter sounds like she has the makings of a good writer or editor someday! If big action is about to hit, we shouldn’t spend too much time in the characters heads or give a full-blown description of the scenery.

    Of course, sometimes we have to keep the reader in just enough suspense…. 😉

  6. Joyce says:

    Love it. Truth tellers (and seekers). Amen

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