Off hand, I can really think of only three public figures whom I despise so much, that even my coworkers know my true feelings.
If Ann Coulter appears on a talk show, they know it’s a matter of seconds before I scream obscene things about her. No one at work would even consider letting music by Jewel hit my ears. And when that f*cking liar James Frey comes up in conversation, look out.
Frey, you may recall, is the guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces and the follow-up My Friend Leonard.
I was one chapter away from finishing the first book when it became public that the work of non-fiction was in fact, made up. I went from being riveted by his tale, to refusing to finish it.
People have asked why, if I was so captivated, I stopped reading. It was still a good story, right?
It was a good story, and I’d have been a fan if it had been presented as “inspired by true events.” But it wasn’t. It was a lie.
Jaws is a great movie, but imagine how you would have felt if it were true, if the words “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” had actually been uttered. In addition to being a summer blockbuster it would have been a haunting cautionary tale on the deadly results of ignoring marine biologists.
As a journalist, I find the truth even more important. When I write a story for my profession, it’s true. End of story.
If a book says it’s based on true events, it had better be.
But now we come to this blog, and I think I need to clarify some things.
For example, I didn’t really forget that dogs can’t type. I added that line because, c'mon, it’s funny, right? Right!?
So how are you, the reader supposed to know the truth and know when I’m taking license?
A story that includes animals talking or writing or taking my laundry to the cleaners is probably embelleshed.
If there’s a story about a night out, my family, a woman I might be pining over, that’s at least based on truth.
If the punch line to a story is funny or really funny, it’s true.
If the punch line is really really funny, I made it up… or stole it from someone else.
To make a long story short, go by this: Inspired By True Events… But My Dog Didn’t Really Come Up With An Online Password.