The following post was authored by Mike Sahno, author of the new novel, Whizzers, which blends speculative and metaphysical fiction.
“Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth.” ― Khaled Hosseini
Throughout the ages, writers of fiction have sought to convey deeper meaning through their art. Storytellers don’t necessarily tell stories merely to entertain; they may also wish to inform, or to impart wisdom.
As a delivery system for universal truths―or even just personal truths―fiction probably has a pretty shaky history. Still, it’s worth investigating whether an individual work of fiction can deliver the goods when it comes to being truthful, or authentic.
A couple months back, I wrote a blog post about how important it is to be true to oneself, both in life and in work. That post linked out to an article of mine where several people in the comments section complimented me on the honesty and vulnerability of what I’d written. It was, to say the least, humbling.
What I find interesting is how greater authenticity can lead to greater success. I’ve always tried to be true to my artistic vision as a writer, and all my novels contain at least some biographical material. That’s inevitable. But my most recent book, Whizzers―which I discussed in the abovementioned articles―is my most autobiographical work by far. Perhaps as a result, the Whizzers launch was my most successful to date.
Does that mean I think fiction is, or even should be, largely autobiographical? Hardly. Yet I do feel as though the more I’ve put myself into my work, the more readers have responded. Maybe that says more about them than it does about me, but one thing is certain: by its very nature, that level of authenticity, of “putting myself out there,” appeals greatly to readers who are themselves genuine, honest people. And that might be the most rewarding aspect of this writer’s journey thus far.