May 25, 2020

Fact vs. Fiction

Fact vs. fiction: Between a rock and a hard place?

Janine Pineo Photo | Fact vs. fiction: Between a rock and a hard place?

• By John F. Chisholm •

I’ve been struggling to complete a novel.  It’s far from my first.  But I began the story I’m referring to two and a half years ago.  I stopped work on it when I began writing for  It wasn’t that I lost interest.  At the time I was faced by a decision; continue work on a novel that might reach up to one hundred people when it was finished or write essays which reach considerably more than that ― and on a regular basis, too.

Call me greedy.  I need what every author needs, an audience.  I set the book aside.

That state of affairs continued peaceably for more than a year.  Recently however, I discovered a real need for both, that is for the essays and the book, fact and fiction.  How very odd.  Stranger still, shifting gears back and forth from one format to the other isn’t as easy as might be imagined.  Who would have guessed that the two might be mutually exclusive, especially to an author? (Clearly they’re not to politicians, just for example.)

I mention it because I want you to bear with me.  Authors (good ones, at any rate) need challenges.  That’s what lifts them from the prosaic to the sublime.  I won’t lie.  I need this one.  I’m not backing down.  Yet it’s curious that at present I can produce 20 pages on a novel in the same amount of time that I struggle writing a three-page essay.

What’s up with that?

It’s not a quality difference.  I assure you that I slave over my fiction with the same attention that I give my essays.

Perhaps it’s merely desire.  I’m raring to go on my novel.  The essays are a distraction in that sense.  But in another they’re critical exercise.  Finding the lessons in life are as important to me now as they were before.  That’s a fact.

And ironically, that’s what joins the two.

Because, absolutely, the lessons of life are present in both fact and fiction.   In truth, finding them is my goal.  That’s why I’m writing this.  That’s why I’m asking for your understanding and assistance as I work on both formats.

Because we all know that they’re there:

Please stay with me while I find the facts in fiction.