April No Foolin’

April notoriously begins with Fools’ Day. This tradition goes back at least as far as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, published 1392, so it seems an appropriate topic for writers to tackle.

What I want to explain is that, as a writer of Women’s Fiction, I’m not out to fool my readers—no foolin’.

Most folks enjoy a good tale. But those who swipe at fiction describe it as collections of un-truths. One speaker —who shall here be nameless—said, and I quote: “Fiction? We don’t care because you made it up.” It doesn’t happen often, but I was actually speechless for a moment. Marooned in a sea of otherwise intelligent non-fiction writers, I looked around for fellow protestors, but found none. So pardon my vehemence.

Some folks regard those of us who write fiction with pity, as though we live in la-la land and they’re hesitant to burst our bubble. But if I could share with them the unique perspective of what I call “story awareness,” perhaps they could join in the fun of what Tennyson described as “seeing into the life of things.” As I’ve said in talks of my own, non-fiction is about facts; fiction is about truth. And to go one step farther: facts conceal; truth reveals.

So how does a fanciful tale about a fictitious town like Milford-Haven, tell the truth? It’s through the lens of story that the truth of motives and aspirations, thoughts and feelings, joys and disappointments can be told. And these elements can be revealed through the choices a character makes, the consequences that ensue, and the total arc that is structured from a series of choices and circumstances.

After all, I’m writing about the serious matter of what the heart knows—actually knows. I’m not fooling you about it. I’m speaking from the heart.

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