The Truth About Lying

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As a writer, I have a love-hate relationship with the act of lying.

Author’s note: that’s not really true. I actually love to lie when I write, but feel the need to say “love-hate” so you won’t think I’m pathological or anything.

In all honesty, when it comes to my interpretation of lying, I tend to embrace the positive. Life is short, and words have a way of magically working themselves into quotes that you post on Facebook in the form of a haiku when you’re buzzed causing super-embarrassing apology status updates the next day about your drunk attempts at poetry.

Author’s note: when someone says “in all honesty,” or “to be completely honest,” or “I’ve just got to be honest with you,” they’re probably lying. Also, I made that thing up about life being short and Facebook and stuff.

Tara Reid should not post on Facebook or try to write a real book. Image via cracked.com.

Tara Reid should not post on Facebook or try to write a real book. Image via cracked.com.

Yet in just about every modern-day scenario, the word “lie” is associated with villainy. Consider my version of Urban Dictionary’s definition, which is someone else’s interpretation of reality and general take on the word.

Author’s note: did you get that? If you said “yes” you’re a liar because it doesn’t make ay sense.

Lying, adjective: not telling the truth

1. What your wife thinks you’re constantly doing.

Kristen: “How do you like my bathing suit?”

Steve: “It’s one of my favorites.”

Kristen: “You’ve never seen it before. You’re lying!”

2. Getting drunk and kissing your girlfriend’s best friend, then covering it up when your girlfriend asks if you got drunk and kissed her best friend.

Jessica: “Are you sure you didn’t kiss my best friend last night?”

Ryan: “Nope, I didn’t. Honestly. We were just exercising our lips.”

Jessica: “Strong lips are hot! I love you.”

3. The ability to use the least amount of information, distort it, and add something completely absurd while you rip a small tear in the space-time continuum and slowly change the topic.

Me: “Did you clean your room?”

My son: “I did. And it looks beautiful. But not as beautiful as you. There is nothing in the world that can match your beauty. Or your timeless sense of style. Plus you look so young. Can you make me some dinner?”

4. Constantly fabricating things to make someone else look bad.

Ten year-old boy in my son’s class: “Taylor can’t fart on command. He’s lying!”

5. Someone who represents what they are not, especially when being chased down an alley by an undercover cop.

Cop: “Freeze!”

Liar: “No! I’m just a writer researching a crack dealing, money laundering, law breaking, schizoid character for my first novel!”

Author’s note: most people who contribute material to Urbandictionary.com are on some type of hallucinogen. This statement may or may not be somewhat inaccurate.

None of the interpretations above are positive, yet anyone who attempts to tell a meaningful story has to be a liar. Period. And where’s the harm in that?

Author’s note: those quotes above aren’t real. I made them up. Or maybe I didn’t. You decide.

If you want to make what you write memorable, you’ve got to embrace lying as a form of art, and not in a “Hey, it’s Memorial Day and I love face-planting into the pool in front of the whole neighborhood, plus I always win the lubed watermelon race across the deep end when I’m trashed, so I think I’ll just fall off the wagon for the weekend then back on when Tuesday rolls around.” You’ve got to commit.

Author’s note: You aren’t a better swimmer when you’re drunk. You’re not better looking either, and contrary to popular belief, you can’t do the moonwalk on concrete. And don’t even think about trying to write. (These statements are true as far as you know.)

So what am I trying to say? I’m not really sure except lying isn’t all bad. Especially when you’re writing. But not when you’re under oath. Or one of my children trying to get away with something you hope I’ll never find out about.  Or Batman. In those instances, it’s pretty important to stick to the truth, and that’s my honest opinion.

Batman: an iconic superhero whose powers are r...

Batman: an iconic superhero whose powers are not that great. Batman uses his wits and techno gadgets to apprehend his foes in an urban dystopia. Plus he never lies. (Photo via Wikipedia)

58 responses »

  1. I have a co-worker who constantly punctuates her sentences with “Honestly?” followed by a statement, as in: “Honestly? I really like Care Bears.” One o’ these days I’m going to snap and say, “No, dammit! Lie to me! Enough of your accursed honesty!” Or something similarly unwitty.

  2. Here’s the other big lie: “I’m not one to make trouble, but…” This is typically uttered right before a complaint is filed and you are subsequently served. Or so I have heard.

    • I wouldn’t know about that because I’ve never been in a courtroom that wasn’t somehow tied to a show that starts with “Judge,” and pretending to try to be a TV actress who fake-stole money from my college roommate doesn’t count.

  3. Making stuff up is the best part of writing. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m a pathological liar…. Or maybe I’m just one big work of fiction. Who’s to say?

    • Yes. As long as we don’t use our poetic license in real life. Unless it’s a white lie to save someone’s feelings or a minor lie to hide something pain from our children or an out and out lie to get out of an unwanted social engagement. =)

      Thanks for the visit, Carrie!

      • Yes, I was referring to writing. But now that you mention it, a white lie to escape a social engagement seems acceptable to me. 🙂

  4. I love this, but I don’t think Tara understood it. By the look on her face, this post left her deeply confused and possibly constipated. It also tweaked one of her implants. Lies hurt. And so do deep thoughts about lies.

    • I totally saw that tweaked implant on TMZ the other night. It was so freaky it made me scream, and it completely scared me away from plastic surgery. At least for the next couple of months or until neck gets all Stretch Armstrongy (are you old enough to know who he is?), whichever comes first.

      • I am old enough to not only know who he is, but also to have him live below my chin. The bastard. I never like him. I’m tempted to sell my husband’s jeep and buy myself a youthful glow.

  5. If a writer isn’t lying, that writer is dying. Or lying. Or lying about dying. Or dying to lie. Or lying down because they’re dying.

    I think you’ve made me dizzy. Does anyone have a cot? I think I need to lay down. Or is it lie down? Dear god, I hate that word.

    • But you don’t hate lying because you’re an amazing writer who’s thriving. And not dying. So you must be lying. To a degree. In character. But never in person. And never to your Blogging Bestie…except when you need to get off the phone. =)

      • I never lie to you to get off the phone. I may have occasionally run water in the sink so that I could use the facilities while talking with you, but I’d hardly call that lying. It was really more like muffling, while peeing really slowly. As far as whether or not I lie or embellish in my writing, you know damn well I do. And anyone who thinks I don’t may well become the subject of my next post that…ooooh, you thought I would give it away. But I won’t because my next post topic was chosen by one of my loyal subscribers and shall remain secret until it is posted. What kind of BB are you to try and drag that information out of me online? I would never do that to you. Anyway, I have to lie a little because the truth is stranger than fiction – and no one would believe the crazy shit that actually happens in my life.

  6. Which definition of lying is it when, after watching Wicked, Gabi wondered how the Wizard of Oz can be Elpheba’s dad, asking “How can that be? You have to be married to have kids, right? Oh, he gave her the green potion to get her pregnant!” And I said, “Exactly!”
    Love this blog 🙂

    • Stella,
      I so appreciate your support. You’re a great mom BTW. I thought about taking my girls to see Wicked but based on the ticket prices, Scot and I went and got them a babysitter instead. Lying has its virtues, especially when kids are involved. =)
      Stacie

  7. Lying can make a story so much better! But then again, if Lying is a thing, it only exists contrary to The Truth. That’s much harder. Esepcially when speaking of the past. My mantra is often, “It is The Truth because that’s the way I remember it. And no one else is alive to give their perspective, so it is therefore exactly what happened.” So flexible! Judgement about lying is also a cultural thing. I read a book about Gypsies once. Lying is a way of life for them because privacy and secrecy about their culture is a huge priority. Controlling information to your own advantage or purpose. Interesting to think about 🙂

    • It is! I wrote that blog at 4:30 a.m. so my thought process wasn’t nearly as coherent as yours, but then again, that would be the case at 4:30 in the afternoon too. At the end of the day, lying does have some positives, given the context and the situation. But don’t tell my kids I said that. Thanks, as always, for the thought-provoking comment Laura!

  8. I bet you didn’t guess but every single thing I’ve ever written in my blog is a lie.

    Well, no that’s not true at all. Most of what I write about is true though. Scary, isn’t it? Sometimes something happens and I say, I can’t make this shit up! and I blog about it and it’s so crazy that people respond to it.

  9. The moral weight of a lie is gone when you’ve prepared the listener (or reader) that what’s gonna come next is a lie. So no blogger or story-writer should worry.

    Being a good liar involves smothering two little voices in your head—the one that tells you lying is wrong and the one that warns you of getting caught, because you aren’t good at lying.

    The second voice is active when you’re blogging or story-telling.

    • Personal opinion: I disagree with you to a degree on your first point. Not about the moral issue, rather, what’s coming next. Tension is one of the key elements that makes a story worth reading. If the writer preps the reader in any way, the tension disappears.

      • I see your point about the tension. I don’t mean the writer should prep the reader that some ‘facts’ are false, but telling the reader that what you’re writing is fiction—for instance—takes away any guilt the writer might otherwise have.

    • She IS incredibly funny, Christine, and I love reading about her adorable antics. However, when the day comes that you notice the pile of clean underwear in her drawer getting smaller and smaller, then discover about fourteen pairs shoved behind her dresser with noticeable skid marks in all the wrong places, you might find yourself lying just a little. Or not. =)

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