I should perhaps apologize to refriedgringo for pinching this post of his, but what he expresses in the post is the core of what this thread is about, and frankly, I can’t say it better myself. Therefore, with his indulgence, this is a post by refriedgringo responding to the thread “Memories of Michael Jackson, Part 1” posted in thestoryteller’s blog, Writing to Remember:

There are many outlets for fictional short stories on the internet, I write fiction, love fiction and read fiction. But the Reader, and weblogs in general, aren't that outlet. I guess that anyone can come in and write a fake account of an aspect of their life, but what does that promote?

I loved watching Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds swat home runs, it was outstanding. But then, to learn that they pumped themselves up on steroids sort of ruined it for me. It became something other than baseball at that point.

The idea of writing a blog in here is to write about your neighborhood, or at least, to write about an aspect of it, or of yourself. I couldn't submit a single post in here and be satisfied about it unless it was real, or unless it really occurred. Heck, even when I submit stringer stories, although apparently it's perfectly acceptable to read about an event in my local paper here and simply transalte it into English, I can't do that. I can only submit a story I've actually witnessed or been a part of in some way.

But, I reckon, to each their own.

By refriedgringo 2:08 p.m., Sep 24, 2009

The piece “Memories of Michael Jackson” appears to be a first-hand account of a romantic encounter between the blog author, thestoryteller, and Michael Jackson. It is an amazing piece of writing, filled with details that are vivid and evocative, and which help to convince the reader of it’s authenticity, such as this section:

He pressed me so tightly against him, I could feel his hardness, which was absolute proof he wasn't gay. For years, I would challenge anyone who said he was, although I didn't tell them why.

The author states that she had been “challenging” people about whether Michael Jackson was gay “for years” based on personal and intimate knowledge. Only one other person that I am aware of has been in a position to speak authoritatively about Jackson’s sexual relationships with women, and that is his former wife, Lisa-Marie Presley Jackson, who has indicated in the past that their marriage was normal in that regard. The true nature of Jackson’s sexual preferences and predilections go to the core of much of what was controversial about Jackson’s life and here is this author, thestoryteller, who claims to have information related to that issue, and interesting and compelling insights about other perplexing questions related to the singer’s life. Or does she?

SDaniels pointed out, in a post attached to the “Memories” thread, that the content of the thread was very similar in nature and content to a post attached to another Reader article.

This is SDaniels post:

One keystroke brought this up, and I'm sure Mindy won't mind. People, you have to understand that license will be taken :)

"I turned down a blind date with Michael Jackson. I knew a famous music arranger in Hollywood in 1980. I saw him one day and he asked if I'd ever heard of a singer named Michael Jackson.

This arranger was humble and probably knew that I had, but didn't want to seem like he was bragging. I said that I had heard of him and he said he wanted to set me up with him. He said that we were the same age, and something about me reminded him of Michael. We were both quiet. Michael had been a child star, but hadn't made it big as an adult yet. I turned the date down, because I had a fiance.

By Mindy1114 2:41 p.m., Apr 23, 2009 > Report it"

By SDaniels 10:17 a.m., Sep 24, 2009

Link to that 'long-ago' conversation: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2009/... By SDaniels 10:18 a.m., Sep 24, 2009

In another post attached to that article, Mindy1114 goes on to say:

If Michael and I had hooked up, I would have convinced him he was handsome enough without plastic surgery. However, I did have a one-year-old son. I'm sure Michael would have been n love, I'm just not sure it would have been with me.

By Mindy1114 4:17 p.m., Apr 23, 2009

This is a topic covered in the “Memories” piece, as follows:

"I don't feel like [I’m handsome]," [Michael] said, sadly. I looked at him, to see if he was serious. "Have you been looking at the same face I've been looking at?" He snickered as if I'd fallen for some old chicken joke. "There's all kinds of plastic surgery I want to do," he said. "People in the business say it does a lot for your career." "If you're ugly, Michael. You're not ugly. You're fine the way you are." "My nose is too wide. It's like a tribal chief's. A boy at school toldme that it was ugly--real ugly. Hideous. He told me I looked like a monster."

The name Mindy1114 rang a bell with me, of course. I remembered reading one of her blog threads, “A Neighborhood Affair To Remember,” which had won the April 2009 Neighborhood Blog contest. The thread was a sleazy, cheesy recounting of a woman’s extramarital affair. In the follow-up discussion through posts attached to the thread, however, Mindy1114 seems to indicate that the account is not genuine, and brags that “sex sells.” Indeed.

If Mindy1114 has in fact morphed into storyteller (Both blogs are written out of Escondido. Mindy1114 hasn’t posted any threads on her blog since 1 June 2009; storyteller posted her first thread on 9 May 2009, then there was a gap, another post on 12 August, Confessions of a Cutter, which won her Second Place in the August 2009 Neighborhood Blog Contest (to which she posts, after her “daughter” amy congratulates her on her win, “I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up!”), and she has been posting regularly since), then clearly she is trying to repeat the lesson learned to win another bonanza by writing another “sex sells” story which from all indications is very likely fictitious. If you give a Reader mouse a cookie, they come back for another cookie.

Now, the Reader makes a big old deal about not accepting fiction for publication. It appears, though, that the Reader does, though perhaps not intentionally, and rewards the writer quite handsomely. So, at first blush I thought the questions would be, Do you try and stop the blogs from becoming venues for fiction, can you stop the blogs from becoming venues for fiction, should you stop the blogs from becoming venues for fiction?

Refriedgringo puts his finger on the crucial point, I think:

I loved watching Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds swat home runs, it was outstanding. But then, to learn that they pumped themselves up on steroids sort of ruined it for me. It became something other than baseball at that point.

I am on refriedgringo’s side in this matter, theoretically. I think the blogs should be about events that actually happened to actual people in actual places in San Diego; in my opinion Baja is a bit of a stretch, but okay, the relationship is there. I don’t mean content has to be sworn testimony that would hold up in a court of law, as there have been and will always be people who will, purposefully or accidentally, exaggerate elements of a story. The blogs won’t ever be, because they can’t be, one hundred percent truthful. So that may be the real question: What is truth, as regards a Reader blog? Is this a question of integrity, or of definition? What is the thing that is something other than baseball?

Comments

David Dodd Sept. 26, 2009 @ 1:08 p.m.

Josh, fiction covers this. I'm in the middle of my second novel, and it's actually a fictional biography. I've changed names and rearranged circumstances, but the story is true (about a chunk of my life between when I left Los Angeles and when I arrived in Tijuana). Frederick Exley ("A Fan's Notes") wrote similarly, as did Charles Bukowski in just about everything he penned.

Non-fiction is a different ballgame (baseball analogy pun intended).

If you write a novel (of any type, except that all novels are fictional by definition), you complete the novel and edit the hell out of it, tighten it up, and then submit a query to either an agent or a publisher. But we'll use an agent for now because most writers use agents. Usually, the agent's query includes synopsis, a short bio about the author, and the first five pages or so of the novel. If the agent is interested, they'll request more of the novel to read. The agent, should he/she be interested, will then pitch it to a publisher. If everything goes right, you'll get an advance and fight with the editor until, after a year or two, the novel is released.

If you write a non-fiction book, the process is entirely different. Your query includes a platform, and the book doesn't even have to be written yet. The platform is a series of ideas and reasons that your book will sell. A recovering drug addict, an ex-prostitute, a child actor, some reason that the story will appeal to a mass audience. It is implied that the book will be a true account of something, the platform is built around that premise.

Obviously, we're talking about a weblog here. But the premise is similar, in the sense that your neighborhood is the platform. Blogging stories about one's neighborhood implies that there is something about the neighborhood story that will appeal to a wide audience. I enjoy good fictional short stories, they're very entertaining, but the appeal of a weblog to me is that people are sharing their accounts and stories that happened in their neck of the woods, not in their imagination.

To me, it's implied in the platform.

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David Dodd Sept. 25, 2009 @ 1:50 p.m.

You certainly don't owe me an apology, pinch away!

Mindy and storyteller are, indeed, one in the same. She won the blog contest thing with that entry about cheating on her husband, and although I didn't particularly enjoy it, I initially defended her from others who were unkind in their remarks. Then Mindy got snotty with SD (a fantastic writer), and I took great exception to it, and then came some weird private messages from Mindy (including one that accused me of being a bad writer!), and that was it.

Somewhere in all of the shenanigans, Mindy admitted that the story was made-up.

I don't read her stuff anymore, mainly because I never know what's true and wnat isn't. The idea behind writing isn't to pull the literary wool over the reader's eyes, it's to open them wider. Within the first couple of pages of almost every contemporary novel I have ever read, there is a passage along the lines of, "This is a work of fiction." Obviously, this is there so that the author can avoid potential lawsuits, but I would argue that all fiction is based on truth anyway. However, any untruth coming from non-fiction should always be limited to what is left out of the story, not what is inside of it.

In baseball terms, it isn't the notion that steroids may or may not have given Bonds another forty feet in length smacking someone's hanging curveball out of the park, it's the notion that steroids give a hitter that many more at-bats.

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CuddleFish Sept. 25, 2009 @ 3:57 p.m.

As far as I can tell Mindy isn't posting anymore, as Mindy. And I think I agree, thestoryteller ought to have posted a disclaimer on the threads that were pure fiction (and at this point, who knows which pieces are fiction, including the two for which she won the blog contest).

But how can you tell when what people write is true, partly true, or not at all true? As I said in the thread, for our purposes, what is truth?

It's like baseball. How many players use performance enhancing substances and get away with it and are rewarded? For that matter how many players since the beginning of baseball may have used substances to enhance their performance that we didn't know about because we didn't test until the last ten years, or because things that are banned now weren't banned then? I remember the banner some fans held up behind Bonds that said, Babe Ruth Did It On Hot Dogs And Beer. What about all that alcohol, which today would not have been allowed? What about chewing tobacco, which is allowed? I suppose an argument could be made that cheating has always been a part of baseball and therefore it is baseball.

Pike made a similar point in his posts: there is no line between fiction and non-fiction. There may be no truth, something other than truth, in blogs.

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Josh Board Sept. 25, 2009 @ 4:14 p.m.

You guys bring up good points.

Let me ask you this. I love the writing and stories of David Sedaris. But he has been knocked many times for doing this. And he admits to doing it.

And part of me is bothered by him doing it. Because, it seems ANYONE can take childhood stories, stories about their families, and mix memory with fiction, to create a story that's a thousand times more interesting and funny.

Although, I still read his stuff, so I guess I'm not bothered that much by it.

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CuddleFish Nov. 3, 2009 @ 11:29 p.m.

Well, I guess it's time to revive this thread again.

I mean, is the neighborhood blog contest a neighborhood blog contest or a fiction contest?

Not taking anything away from anybody, but there were some darn good threads written this month, from new bloggers, and great stuff from the regular bloggers, and it seems like deja vu all over again.

I don't know ......

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