I lied a lot as a kid. I think it stemmed from my paralysing fear of being in trouble, or disappointing others (I am a people pleaser, after all). I was usually caught out when I lied though, my downfall lay in the elaborate nature of the stories I told. I would begin with a simple enough lie, and then build on it until it was too ridiculous to be taken seriously. When I was younger, before my brother James was in the picture, I used to spend long weekends and holidays with my grandparents in Canberra. My grandpa Jim was the perfect companion for me on these trips. He was a menace, just like me. He’d entertain me by letting me play him in chess, teaching me his own unique set of rules (to this day I still play chess Jim-Blackie style).
I think the best example of my outrageous lying revealed itself on one of my trips to Canberra. Grandma had made one of her specialty chocolate cakes; it had sat on the table all afternoon, staring at me tantalizingly. Grandma had made me promise not to touch the cake until after dinner, but Grandpa and I were struggling to keep our promise. Finally, we convinced each other to have a slice, hoping that maybe Grandma wouldn’t notice. Of course, later, when Grandma came into the kitchen and found almost half the cake missing, she knew exactly who the culprits were. When she asked me who had eaten it, I told her, ‘It was the Brown Bear’. I explained that a giant brown bear had found its way out of the forest across the road from my Grandparents home, broken in through the back window, come into the kitchen and eaten half the cake, then stopped as the bear didn’t want to ruin his figure. After this the Brown Bear became a fixture in my grandparents’ home, whenever something was broken or went missing, the bear would be to blame.
I think my propensity for long-running, elaborate lies was part of the reason I started writing. Once you get a story down on the page it’s a lot easier to see where its flaws are. After many, many years of writing terrible, unrealistic stories, I finally learnt how to control a plot without letting it get completely out of control. For me I think lying was a fundamental tool in exploring my creativity. It allowed me to create stories before I even really knew I was doing it.
Originally Posted on The Musings of a Blackie on the 15th of June, 2015.