I'm up and limping around, feeling fairly good, all things considered. But surgery takes something out of you, mentally as well as physically, so I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on my writing, teaching, or editing at the moment. As a three-time veteran, I was prepared for that this time. So I'm logging lots of hours on my Kindle, catching up on seventy—yes, seventy—books in my " find time to read someday" pile. It's heaven, but I have to work hard not to feel guilty about "goofing" off this way.
A few days before my surgery I came across this link in the Guardian to a speech that fantasy writer Neil Gaiman gave in London earlier this month. I want to write something profound in response, but I'm reduced to saying, "Oh wow oh wow oh wow." Gaiman plucked every word I might ever think to set down about this glorious craft of fiction writing and said it so much better than I ever could. So please, please–if you love books, either as a reader or a writer, do yourself a favor and read his speech. I'd quote my favorite parts, but by the time I was done, I'd have reproduced the entire thing.
What exploded in my heart most of all was when Gaiman said that fiction writers—especially those of us who write for children—have an obligation to daydream, to entertain, and most of all, to tell the truth. Gaiman didn't mean that writers should teach or moralize: far from it. He specifically lists as one of our obligations that we should avoid preaching at all costs.
So what did he mean? I'll let him explain.
,,,truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are.
To me, that is another way of saying that truth in fiction isn't a simple regurgitation of facts. There is an alchemy that happens when you enter a book, a combustible reaction between word and reader that can forever change the way you see life, the world—even yourself. That I think is what Gaiman meant when he said
Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all.
Now if that doesn't get you to read his speech, I don't know what will!