You feel that buzz of energy that stems from your mind and spreads to your body – all parts of it; the organs and the extremities. You feel charged, like a device that’s been plugged in all night; too full, but none the worse for it. You take pleasure in the stimulating shock you experience when your pen-holding hand hovers over the pages on which you imprint with your handwriting – or as your ready fingers hover over your QWERTY keyboard. This is real, but it might as well be fiction. Fiction is where you thrive, fiction is where you can do anything; fiction is where you are invincible. Your hands hover, ready to create universes.
Oh yes, they call you a writer. They call you a lyricist. But these titles only serve to describe your ability to manipulate words. What they are missing is your ability to manipulate minds. And you already know that this is what fiction really is. It’s insidious.
It is not discourse, it is not self-help. It is never a direct discussion with the reader. It is mere stories, fables conjured by the mind of The Author – and that is the reason why it is so insidious in the first place. As a fiction author, it is never a matter of, “This is what I think; this is what you should think.” And yet, treacherously, it affects the reader. What are you doing to their brains?
No matter what reality it is based on, the fables of fiction are not real; neither are the characters. What they think, what they say, what they believe…they are all imaginary. And through fiction, their lives, their ideas – YOUR imaginations – are postulated to the readers as if they were Divine Truths. Why all this deception? You are a mastermind criminal that can never be held accountable. You can never be tried or imprisoned. What would they accuse you of?
The man with the long grey beard sits calmly in front of the judges and accusers, unperturbed and confident in his own safety. His prosecutors are his audience and critics, and the matter that they are all so worked up about is nothing but a few words he had thought amusing to pen down.
“In your work,” says an accuser, “You show numerous prejudices and biases that are archaic, offensive and inconsiderate. We have every right to persecute you. What do you have to say in your defence?”
The man responds placidly, “If you can pinpoint to me the exact words you claim I have caused offense with, and you can prove that they are indeed reflections of my own mind and person, then perhaps, I will be able to take you seriously.”
Triumphant, the accuser is ready for this, with the remote for the projector in his hand. Above all, he is pleased to have been invitingly requested by the enemy himself to provide his concrete evidence. This is his chance to show everyone in the audience why the man should be condemned and is in no way worthy of their praise. He presses a series of buttons, and an excerpt appears on the screen:
“His ways are foul, his manner uncultured,” said Gonzalo. “It is only typical, given his upbringing in that dark, poor, barbarian place. Over there, they are all the same, and no man’s mind is advanced.”
The words remain on the screen. The accuser relishes the shock this has brought the audience, but becomes uneasy when he shifts his gaze to the man, only to realise that he is not in the least way perturbed. Has he, by any chance, found a loophole?
“Well?” the accuser asks.
“These are not my words,” the man says.
“What do you mean? They are taken right out of your own book. It has your name boldly on its cover. In fact, this is a cropped photograph of the text itself, not a typed or copied version.” The accuser says this with conviction, but his ease has not returned.
“That may be so,” says the man. “It is true, in fact. This is my work. That is my book. But I assure you, those are not my words.”
The accuser remains baffled. “I don’t comprehend. If what you say is true, then whose words are they?” In his mind, he is already working on new accusations of plagiarism, if they so fit the situation, so that he may win the argument.
“Look at me,” says the man. “And look at that text. Is that not quoted text? Are those not quotations marks, which represent direct speech?”
“Last I checked, my name was not Gonzalo.”
Your imaginary characters are real to you, and to any other reader who chooses to accept them. But in accepting them, you must all come to accept the fact that they have lives of their own. The Author is the parent of each character that was borne from them, but children are not their parents. If each character was the same person, the story would taste like unseasoned food: bland, inedible. And yet, though they are not you, they are whatever you want them to be. By your pen, by your hand, they are puppets.
As you hold the instrument, as you hold the strings, the conductor’s wand, you compose their lives and you compose the fable’s events. There is no one else on this planet or the next one that can tell you what to do. With this realization comes also the recognition of your extreme power. As you hold that instrument, to which every single word is attached, you can literally do anything. You are omnipotent. You know the end before it is written. You know the lives of the characters before they are mentioned. You know the reason behind events and when you don’t, you know why you don’t know. You are omniscient.
As you unlace the intricate web of a universe that you created, that you manipulated in past, present and future; with which you unconsciously indoctrinated as many people as were bold enough to delve by reading into the world you have created, you, supreme weaver, you are a god.
Now, do you feel the rush? Now do you understand what power you hold within you? I concede, you are not your own boss. But you are the boss of everything that you create, for it lives inside your head. This is fiction. This is art. This is the beauty of authority. Now, you can understand where the rush within you comes from. It’s a pleasing secret that’s so difficult to hide – and yet, it is right there, in plain sight: you are a word manipulator.
People don’t just read you and move on. No. They read you and get affected by the story. It becomes their story, a thing on its own, separate from The Author. They see themselves in your fabrications, and they fall in love, not with you, but with fantasies that are common to both parties. The Author and The Reader are on two separate hemispheres, and the equator is your story. And, since you don’t exist to them, through your words, you plant seeds of thought inside them. They may be fruit, they may be poison. But as for you, you have the power to postulate whatever insidious ideas from the text to their heads. Doubt not your influence.
But beware of interpretations, for though you may be a god, your power is limited by how far from you your story travels. It is like keeping a caged tiger for a pet; once you let it go, there is no telling what it might do in its freedom, to anyone – or to you.
Dear fellow gods, exercise your power – but beware the tiger.
“When you write, you create images that will be illuminated by the eyes of others and take on forms that the creator could never have imagined.” – Jose Carlos Somoza