I don’t like writing about people unless they’re made-up or I have a problem with them.
If the people I set out to write about are just ordinary people that I know and all that they’ve done are ordinary things then I get bored even before I start to write. I like to read about interesting people doing interesting things and so if the people in my story aren’t like that then I don’t even want to start.
Reality gets in the way of imagination and so, while it’s possible to make fictional people do anything that I want them to, the same thing isn’t possible with real people. For instance, let’s say that I knew someone called Joe (I didn’t) who threw water on the girls to make them giggle and squeal, then I’d be thinking, as I was writing, about why (fictional) Joe wanted to do that. I’d be giving him a background, a thought-process and an end-game (where he wanted to end up vis-a-vis the girls). If, on the other hand, I was writing about a real Joe, then I wouldn’t be able to do any of the above. For a start, I wouldn’t be able to tell what (real) Joe was thinking and, for a finish, the real events of the scene would intrude into my idea of what I wanted the (fictional) Joe to do. And it’s even worse if (real) Joe didn’t do anything interesting at all.
Fictional people can be anything I want them to be and so, when you think about it, it’s natural that I’d want to write about them. Even when I’m writing about real people doing interesting things I still don’t have the freedom to move away from the script of reality. I mean, sure, I can vary the way that I tell the (real) story – that’s, after all, what Creative Non-fiction is all about – but I can’t alter the facts of the matter. If I did – it just wouldn’t be true anymore. It’d just be fiction.
Okay, okay – I hear you. You have a couple of questions in your mind. First up comes: what’s the point, closely followed by: what’s this got to do with how to journey well? Okay, confession time: the answers your questions can be derived from: I was going to tell you a true story about a train journey, but it was boring. My story might well have illustrated how to journey well, but you would have been asleep by the end of it. The only interesting thing in the story was a mouse in a shoe. So, yeah – I’m not going to do that to you.
But, hey – at least you’ve learnt a little about me and the way that I think about stories and people, right? So it can’t be all that bad!
Still, let me leave you with a few parting words of wisdom about journeying well: make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes and, before you set off, get yourself a decent haircut. Both these things will help you immensely; believe me.
Thanks for reading.