August 23rd, 2004

Truth or Lies
By James Castwell


'Journalistic license,' it's called by some who write for money. There are less complimentary euphemisms used too when one kind of writing is not what it's represented to be. Aren't there are only two kinds of writing? The truth (non-fiction) and non-truth (fiction). Seems to me all that has, is, or will be written must fall somewhere between those two limits.

I have tried to keep them separate and only cheat when absolutely necessary. But I find that writing in the field of fly-fishing it's often a damned tough job.

If I try to explain how to do a certain thing; a knot, a cast, select a fly rod or reel, then that's non-fiction. Should be truth, right? Or at least as close to it as I can get? How about 'coloring' it up just a little because I like the guys who make the reel, or I get a nice discount on rods from them, or hope I will in the future. No point in burning bridges is there? So far I have tried not to do that.

Let's say I do a review on a fly line. "Wow, for the average user, this line has it all. "Then two years later out comes a line from a different company and I like it even better. Well, that can not be helped. There are improvements on most everything. I might report and or recommend or review but I do not endorse. That trap I so far have been able to avoid.

I may give my true feelings about a fly line, but as to which fly line company is the best? Well, that is a worthless question anyhow. Who knows or cares. I want to know which fly line is the best for the particular application at hand. Same goes for rods, reels, waders and the rest. I may say I like the gang over at some outfit, and if I say so, than it's true. But, I will not suggest you buy things based upon that either. Read my reviews and you will see what I mean. Do I try to 'color' them up a bit? Yes, but not in any un-truthful way, at least I try not to. But, when was the last time you had fun reading something non-fiction. Pretty hard to find.

Fiction can be exciting or dull, dull does not often sell well. Non-fiction can be written the same way, but dull again does not sell well.

Exciting stuff does sell though. By that I do not necessarily mean a thriller. A great writer can keep you grabbing breathlessly for each word, sentence, paragraph and page. Talent is the key. Flash a hot title, hook the reader in the first paragraph and away you go. Fill the middle, wrap it all up nice and tidy and close it down. Simple, nothing to writing at all. I know of one writer who could hold me spell bound if he wrote the phone book. There are a few out there.

I personally spent too many years reading non-fiction. I had a long way to go and a short time to get there, and fiction 'pleasure reading I called it' offered nothing worthwhile. My reading time had value and I made the most of it. I was logic, Spock from space. In so doing I missed out on plenty. All of the dreams hopes, ideas and private thoughts of others preserved in text. Their gift to all of us and future readers as well. What a nice thing. Very few who write can make a living on it, most hope to break even at best. There is no way they can ever be fully paid for what they have done. Their writings are gifts indeed. Over the years I have found a few writers whose works I enjoyed and I treasure what I have from them.

I think a lot of what I see in print these days is a mixture. Half truth and some fiction. Stories written about fishing someplace, several events all rolled into one, then mixed with a few embellishments for 'color' and passed off as a story 'based on real events.' More fun to read but not really quite true. Looks suspicious to me most of the time. I am not that good. I think I would get caught, found out and pay for it. Besides I think it is cheating, but somehow in today's society seems to be acceptable.

All of this makes me want to write fiction. Ok, some of you think I already do. Yes, sometimes I do, but I don't try to pass it off as truth. The last couple of columns on why we like bugs and ladies in fly fishing have tip-toed back and forth between the two but I think they were understood for what they were. Satire is a fun sport, kind of 'mental ping-pong,' but must not be abused. I get to ask the questions and you get to answer them. Works for me!

This writing stuff can be fun I guess, just wanted to give you a little glimpse from this side of the keyboard. Oh yes, I am currently reading (studying) a book on writing. Talk about dull! ~ JC


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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