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Of Truth and Fiction

By Erica Mendoza


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“Truth is the most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be governed by it, and can only please by its resemblance.”   --- Anthony Cooper Shaftsbury, English Philosopher (1671-1713)


                Writing has been my solace ever since I learned to compose my thoughts and put them into words.  I began to write essays of whatever beautiful and discomforting matters that have put my emotion in both bliss and drain.  Then I realized that each time that I have poured my thoughts in writing I have created my own therapy.  I was and still am good in writing essays, yet I discovered that creating fiction has offered a greater deal of comforting my heart and mind.  Fiction can be manipulated to my own content, and it has served as a better escape when there are things I could never express boldly.  They said that a good writer writes to express and not to impress, and in my case, I write to please myself because most of the time I alone read my literary works.  There are many instances when I wish that people could read what I have written because of my desire to be connected to anyone who can identify herself with what I compose.  It is very true that to become a very effective writer I need to reach out by injecting powerful thoughts into the heart and soul of every reader, and make them understand human emotions better.  But before that, it is very essential that I get healed everytime the last word has been written down.


                It is said that fictionists have the greater tendency to end their own lives than any writers of other genres do.  I have thought that all writers have the inclination to dramatically orchestrate their own deaths, in both thought and action.  This is perhaps one of the inevitable effects of having an uncontrolled creative mind.  The thought of ending one’s life is like a curse that could not be contained as long as the minds speaks and the hand writes.    As a fictionist, my mind could not escape such grim thought.  When you write fiction, it is given that you play with your mind and come up with vivid stories almost psychedelic.  And death is part of life, it is a theme which becomes very handy when a fictionist wants a significant and desired twist to her story.  However, this is only fiction, it is unreal.  Yet, where do all fictions come from?  They come from reality as short stories and novels are created by getting a portion out of the DNA of real life.  Fictions most of the time are clones, identical to the truth but their existence is placed under the shadows of doubt.  When we read a novel based on fiction, we feel the characters, we relate to the situation, and we identify ourselves, yet we know it is only fiction, it does not exist.  Like in real life, when I am entangled in the cobwebs of dark circumstances, I almost could feel the sharp razor on my wrist. This seems to be the only option there is to untangle myself from the unwanted twist of life.  To end one’s own life is like the greatest excuse a writer creates to conveniently make her story coherent.  But when I begin to feel the pain of open wound, I could do nothing but close my eyes and let the tears roll down unrestrained.  The thought of hurting myself and see my delicate body bathe in my own rich blood is too much to bear.  I could not imagine further… 


                “…As she cut the vessels of her life, its essence oozed profusely.  She could not stop

                 the flow of her warm blood.  Her veins were ejecting her life uncontrollably like the

                 wild river draining itself freely to the sea.  Then she fell to the void of nothingness,

                 her fragile body dropped to the cold and damp floor.  Her tearful eyes closed slowly

                 and began to shiver as her mind explored desperately to the memories she only wanted

                  to remember, because she knew there might be nothing in the end, just nothing…”


                I could not end this passage for I cannot decipher what the end might be like.  It is viciously beautiful to create and imagine how to end one’s own life, it is also easy to create what lies beyond the end.  Yet in truth, we do not know anything.  All I know is that it is very painful to hurt myself and if I end my life, I lose the chance to live my only one life to the extreme.  As a fictionist, I can always make my character a winner, but in real life, survival is the only measurement of victory, which proves to be the most challenging plot to create. 


                Perhaps when a writer ceases to express her mind, she also fails to take the challenges of life.  A writer uses writing to deliver the truth, no matter how creative she is.  When she fails to deliver, she loses the passion to live life to the fullest.  She has lost the drive to chase happiness and contentment by using the truth as her tool to create fiction.  She had to settle by closing her eyes, bow her head low, and declare her defeat.


                In this world where people find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings freely, I use writing as the bridge to connect to another human being, hoping not to be judged painfully, without having to face insignificant retaliation from others, and without being rejected by society.  It is always satisfying and exhilarating when I successfully inject my existence in the subliminal thoughts of another person.  I believe that it is better when people will love or hate me for what I write and not for what I possess and not, for all other things shall pass but what I write shall be immortal. 


Perhaps, fictionists are cowards, for they lack the courage to face and deal with truth alone.  They manipulate circumstances and characters to create a fantasy that will clothe the naked truth.  But isn’t fiction part of everybody’s life?  Who has not used fiction to color the ugly shades of truth?  It has become a defense mechanism for a person in order to survive, to escape the possibility of wanting to jump from a 20-storey building.  If a fictionist decided to end her life, she must have come to a point where it’s painful for her to separate truth from fiction.  When Prince Charming of the Fiction Land broke the heart of his creator from the Real World, then the writer was poisoned by her own creation.  Or when the writer has come to realize in pain that what she created will never be real, then she has been drowned by her own stern desire to get what she can never have.  Such is the tragedy of not knowing when to use truth and fiction or how to make them work together.


Sometimes fiction becomes the cause of overwhelming pain, one that makes you shut your eyes and realize that you can never live in the world of make-believe, because it does not exist.  When you come to this realization, you’re left with shameful tears.  You think that life is ruthless and human beings have to move where the water flows because that’s where circumstances tell people to go.  But the irony of this is that we need to swim against the tide to make our lives worth living.  And most often, if not always, to move against the circumstances is the road that leads to a fulfilling life.  This is one of the reasons why writers create fiction, people can never stray away from the main path always.  Fiction serves, as window to the world people can never have and it is made to share a fragment of truth that could not come out from its shadow. 


I write to express my thoughts wonderfully, my pain and anger become beautiful when I create fiction from my emotions.  The energy inside is released when the first word has been written, lives are being born because I create them.  Yet, too much fiction could frustrate its maker.  When reality crawls into the hands of every fictionist, it pins the writer down to the truth --- she can never make it happen alone, not in this world, but only in her mind.  In this case, fiction has become the salvation and reality is the poison that pains the human heart and soul.   I know Jose Rizal became a fictionist for the same reasons, he wanted to express the truth, which he masked it with a little touch of fiction.  When he wrote his novels, he desired to change the world, but he knew he could not do it alone.  That is why the Filipino people had to read his fictional works because he needed their help to enable his dream see even a single ray of sunlight.  Rizal’s works have successfully met their purpose, even if he was killed because of fiction.  And I have to be reminded that fiction becomes only powerful when the thin line that separates it from truth has become almost unrecognized.  With this thought, I allow writing to signify my very existence because I want to live my real life to its fullest content, no matter how beautiful fiction could be.


By the way, this is an essay, and not fiction.


“There seems to be no physical handicap or chance of environment that can hold a real writer down, and there is no luck, no influence, no money that will keep a writer going when she is written out.” 

--- Kathleen Norris, American writer