The Truth About Fiction and Non-fiction

Let me tell you a little secret

Not many people know this little secret. I did not learn about it until I was in my late twenties, a hundred years ago. I now suddenly feel compelled to share this secret.

You see, there is no such thing as ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction.’ Those are terms that were made up by bookstore owners as a way to categorize and organize their inventory. That is all that it is.

There is some non-fiction in every work of fiction. And there is some fiction in every work of non-fiction. Nothing is pure fiction and nothing is pure non-fiction. All writings contain parts of both.

But we humans do not like that. We need everything to be concrete; separated, delineated and categorized. We need to separate fiction and non-fiction in our heads in order to keep our thoughts organized and know what to believe.

Those darn bookstore owners played right into that. They knew we humans like to be entertained and we also want to know ‘the truth.’ Keeping those two desires separate helps keep us from getting confused.

When we read a book or a story or an article we need to know if something is ‘true’ or not. Our brains need to know how to categorize everything. So we read with expectations based on what part of the bookstore we got the reading material from.

Expectations can ruin just about anything. How about reading with no expectations whatsoever? You pick up a book and have no idea what part of the bookstore it came from. The dust jacket is missing as well as the title page. You have no idea if it is a novel or a work of so-called non-fiction. You do not even know what the title of the book is or who it was written by.

You simply start reading the book completely free of any expectations. Your brain will immediately want to start classifying things. That is what brains do. But when silencing that darn noggin as you read you start to FEEL the words instead of just thinking about them and judging them.

This is called noggin-less heart reading. It takes the entire experience of reading to untold new heights. Reading becomes so much more enjoyable. Try it sometime. (Actually, ‘noggin-less heart reading’ is a phrase that I just now made up. Bookstore owners are not the only ones who get to make up words.)

I always wondered what it would be like to go into a bookstore where all the books are placed totally at random on the shelves; no categorizing, no alphabetization. Wouldn’t that be cool? The only thing you could do was go through all the books one at a time. And all the books have blank white covers with no titles or authors. All you could do was pull the book off the shelf then see how it FEELS in your hands. Then you can open the book to see how it FEELS as the words wash over you. That would be so awesome!

But that will never happen. Like the rest of us, bookstore owners have this insatiable need to categorize and organize. We are all way too deeply entrenched in thinking and expectations and so-called ‘truth.’ Humans are far too stuck in their noggins and have forgotten how to read with their hands and heart instead of their eyeballs and brains.

And bookstores do not help with this. They merely keep us in our old conditioned ways.

Those darn bookstore owners!

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Earthling — Lifelong novelist & essayist —

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