The lying is the best, though. A girl in my class wrote in her journal that her sister was fifty. "Don't you mean fifteen?" I asked her. She shook her head like I was nuts and said very clearly, "No. Fifty." It was best just to move on. But I couldn't resist. She had done what every good writer does. I had to go back for more. This time she had added her sister's name. Hannah Montana. Okay, a little too over the top. I have to watch that sometimes with my own writing. Newbery medalist, Patricia Reilly Giff says, "Could it really happen? Or do you believe it could happen?"
As I'm going around the room a couple of days later, the same girl starts telling me another story about her "sister". But this time her sister is nineteen. (Apparently she needed a good copyeditor, because she had temporarily forgotten what she had written a few pages earlier.) All of a sudden the haze cleared and she got a panicky look around the eyes. "Oh...,"she said. "My other sister? She's dead. Yep. She died."
Was that what William Faulkner meant when he said, "Kill your darlings"?
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