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February 12, 2013: Narrative Reliability

This afternoon, as I was ponying Raudi, she got away from me. I was using a longer lead line than usual and wearing mittens. I was attempting to untangle reins and this line when she first leapt in front of Signy, causing me to drop the mess in my hands. Of course, she gravitated up the driveway of the fellow who yesterday fired off his gun after our not-so-amiable interaction.

I opted to use herd solidarity, and urged both Signy and Hrimmi to follow me down road. Raudi, seeing that we were heading off on a really fun ride, kicked up her heels and followed us. It took some doing,

but I finally got her line back in hand. This was without my getting off Signy.

The question that I then considered was, did my knowing that my neighbor might again fire off his gun make me more apprehensive? The answer is yes. Signy is a really mellow horse, but she has her limits. I didn’t want to test them.

I continued on, deep in thought. I’m now working on an arts-related grant proposal. Like most grants of this type, this one requires that I write up an artist’s statement. I welcome such activities. Thought embodies itself in language, bringing my philosophical beliefs about writing, and specifically creative nonfiction writing to the forefront of my consciousness. This then, later manifests itself in what I write.

A defining characteristic of first-person, experiential writing is that the narrator is attempting to get at universal truths, first in hopes that they might see and perhaps embrace certain truths, and secondly, in hopes that their readership might do the same. The creative nonfiction writer might rely on (among others) the fictive devices of point of view, place, and character. Their work could of course still be considered creative fiction. However, it’s when they, in their use of these stylistic entities attempt to deviate from the truth that their work could rightfully be considered fiction.

A very good case in point (if I don’t say so myself). In yesterday’s dispatch, one entitled Traffic Jam, I wrote about the above-alluded to neighbor-related conflict. When I set out to write it, I considered leaving out the part about my giving my neighbor what I called the bird. This was because I didn’t want my readers to think that I, like him, was stooping to rhetorical lows. But it was because of my writerly leanings that I finally (in my second draft) ‘fessed up’. My intent was to give myself the room needed to reflect upon both of our actions. If I hadn’t done this, I would only have been able to reflect upon his actions. This made for a more interesting read.

If I was to revise this dispatch, and I might, I’d push language further, and write about the other names for the hand gesture I employed – flipping someone off, and giving them the finger included. My use of the phrase “giving him the bird” was, I now realize, uncannily evasive.

I cannot go back in time. If I could, I’d have of course done things differently. I can go forward in time, which is why I’m thinking about going and visiting this neighbor, and giving him a cartoon of cigarettes, this being both a goodwill gesture and a way of taking a few minutes off his life. But I would then have to pick his butts up off the road, which would require me to repeatedly have to dismount my horse. It’s not worth the effort. It’s time to move on.

Next: 44. 2/13/13: Photoshop