Honest Fiction

Emily, wearing her Cookie Monster hat, Works on a Story

All culture is based on stories both true and fictional.  No group’s history is without its perspective.  But perspective can be skewed for a variety of reasons.  Skewed or not, the telling should be honest.  As artists, we are taught that our stories don’t have to be factual to be honest.  By honest I mean the moment of creative expression is genuine even if the artist is fictionalizing an event.  Children are the best examples of this honest expression.  They often tell meandering stories with no obvious point.  But they tell their stories with so much passion using the tools available, there is no doubt they are being completely honest in their expression.

Artists have a responsibility to tell stories with childlike honesty.  Artists can use this to powerfully influence whole societies. Their stories can have greater influence than anyone else’s including generals, politicians and scientists.  That is not to say that those fields do not have their fair share of story tellers.  Politicians are especially adept at telling powerful stories that move populations.  People in all fields from medicine to garbage collecting have the potential to contribute to cultural stories.  But of the artist, it is expected.

Storytelling is the primary role of the artist.  Interpreting events and expressing ideas in relation to her environment, exploring other environments, fictional and factual; these are the responsibilities of the artist.  But what is the value of story telling? Story telling provides perspective.  It organizes our jumbled culture into a cohesive whole.  There is an old Norwegian saying (I know because I Googled it), “It is the duty of the present to convey the voices of the past to the ears of the future.”  The ears of the future depend on us to be as honest as we are able to be.

4 thoughts on “Honest Fiction

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  1. Readings I’ve been doing lately for my doc work tell us that storytelling IS education. Not only is the story an engaging way to transmit information, it invites the learner to engage in the story on some level, opening the door for increased meaning to be made. Further, each area of study has its own way of storytelling. Half the learning process is really about discovering what the storyline and mechanisms the filed uses in order to tell its story. Paulo Freire suggested some 50 years ago the education needs to step away from the banking method of instruction (teacher deposits infomration into unquestioning students) to a more dialoguing way of engaging learners in learning. Sound like story sharing to me!


    1. Thanks so much, Ruth. I will look up Paulo Freire. I always appreciate learning something new. Thanks for the comment. I think we are on the same page (literally and figuratively).


  2. You continue to amaze me with your amazing blog posts. You are so insightful, and I am making it a goal of mine to learn many things from you.

    You remind me of some of my favorite teachers.


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