Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

What is the difference between lying and pretending? (04/15/10)



Featured writer: Becky Povich



Contributors this month:
Arlene Mandell
Becky Povich
Christine Falcone
Claudia Larson
Don Edgers
Jenny Matlock
Lilia Westmore
Susan Bono


What is the difference between lying and pretending?

by Becky Povich

Being a sane adult and not living in a pretend world, I think I have a pretty good grasp on this question. At least that's what I think until my fingers rest just slightly above my laptop keyboard, ready to begin typing at breakneck speed. Ah, but then the ol' brain kicks in, and answers start popping out in all different directions, like twigs branching out from a tree limb. I envision it happening so rapidly, it flashes across my mind like time-lapse photography.

Wow. I lean back against my chair and take a deep breath. That kind of visualization has never happened to me before. Does it mean I'm emerging, growing as a writer? Or maybe it means I'm not as sane as I thought I was those few short minutes ago.

Okay. Let's try this again. What if I profess that lying is aggressive, while pretending is passive?

Lying is bold, while pretending is timid.

Lying hurts others, while pretending may perhaps only hurt oneself.

This I know for sure. I experienced a true flash of light while writing this. And, that ain't no lie or pretense.

Becky Povich knows she is living an extraordinary life. She has a fantastic husband of 27 years, wonderful sons and extended family members, fabulous friends, a sweet and faithful canine critter Tiger, and the opportunity to write every single day. What else could she possibly need or want? Read about her current happenings at: www.Beckypovich.blogspot.com.

Let's Pretend

  by Arlene Mandell

Lying can damage others.

Pretending may only damage oneself . . . or build one's self-esteem . . . or be the afternoon's entertainment of being Indian princesses in the vacant lot . . . or the magic bean that grows a humongous beanstalk . . . or even an award-winning novel.

Let's pretend we're invisible butterflies, no,fairies. I've got it! Butterfly fairies with platinum wings and emerald eyes.


Arlene L. Mandell pretends to be a grown-up in Santa Rosa where she arranges her Crayola crayons sequentially: yellow-orange, orange, melon . . .

What is the difference between lying and pretending?

  by Becky Povich

Being a sane adult and not living in a pretend world, I think I have a pretty good grasp on this question. At least that's what I think until my fingers rest just slightly above my laptop keyboard, ready to begin typing at breakneck speed. Ah, but then the ol' brain kicks in, and answers start popping out in all different directions, like twigs branching out from a tree limb. I envision it happening so rapidly, it flashes across my mind like time-lapse photography.

Wow. I lean back against my chair and take a deep breath. That kind of visualization has never happened to me before. Does it mean I'm emerging, growing as a writer? Or maybe it means I'm not as sane as I thought I was those few short minutes ago.

Okay. Let's try this again. What if I profess that lying is aggressive, while pretending is passive?

Lying is bold, while pretending is timid.

Lying hurts others, while pretending may perhaps only hurt oneself.

This I know for sure. I experienced a true flash of light while writing this. And, that ain't no lie or pretense.

Becky Povich knows she is living an extraordinary life. She has a fantastic husband of 27 years, wonderful sons and extended family members, fabulous friends, a sweet and faithful canine critter Tiger, and the opportunity to write every single day. What else could she possibly need or want? Read about her current happenings at: www.Beckypovich.blogspot.com.

What is the difference between lying and pretending?

  by Christine Falcone

I believe the difference between pretending and lying rests with intention. When someone lies, there is a conscious awareness, a deliberate intention to mislead or conceal the truth. With pretending, there is no mal intent. The only desire present is to suspend disbelief.

When I watch my daughter pretend to be a princess or a fairy, there is a certain element of fantasy involved, a magic quality that imbues her very being. It's like she enters another world, literally becomes something or someone else in her mind. And it's very real. We have all had this experience as children. But when she is being dishonest - which hasn't happened that often, I'm happy to report - there is another aspect that takes over, something darker, more sinister. I believe it's the weight of guilt, the awareness of mal intent I'm talking about. You can almost see it, like a shadowy haze around the body. It's so heavy, it's difficult to lift one's gaze.

If you could hold them in your hand, compare their weight and texture, pretending would be a glittery, diaphanous gown, feel light and airy; lying would be a heavy cloak of chainmail.


Christine Falcone is keeping it light and airy in Novato, CA.

Without Shells

  by Claudia Larson

Lying wears a shell. Its thickness varies. There's the varnish swept over mild embarrassment and the M & M™ candy coating covering some small fear. Thick concrete walls protect denial, their brightly colored murals fooling everyone, including the person who built it.

Pretending wears a fresh, curious face. It reaches down for silk scarves, twigs, nuts, bolts and burrs, transforming into whatever needs expression at any particular moment. Stories, songs, characters emerge, satisfying the desire to create, satisfying the need to explore.

Claudia Larson, in Sebastopol, CA, still lies to herself now and then. Her grandchildren are reminding her to pretend.

Liars & Pretenders

  by Don Edgers

This topic is like explaining the difference between communism and capitalism: With communism, man exploits man - with capitalism it's the other way around.

Both Lying and Pretending evade truthfulness. I think motive makes the difference.

I thought the torturous assaults on my hearing by my grade school's Beginning Orchestra performances were over when I entered 7th grade. That is, until I was in the army and sent overseas for 26 months and exposed every Friday night to Woody and the Every-Man-For-Himself Orchestra. Woody was a trombone-wielding band leader of a troop of six that assailed our hearing with three brass instruments, two woodwinds and a drum at a Northern Japan Enlisted Men's Club.

Facing the audience, Woody would shout, "ICHI, NI, SAN, SHI! (1,2,3,4)" turn to his musicians, and using the slide of his trombone as a kind-of baton, launch into a raucous rendition of an unrecognizable tune.

All the 3rd-chair musicians could play their instruments, but their sound was avant-garde and made those who were sober think the music sheets were either upside-down or mixed up. It was a musical circus.

Perhaps some of the players had A.D.D., because there were inappropriate pauses when two or three of them would just quit playing, uncross their eyes, take a deep breath, then join once more into the musical free-for-all, until Woody faced them and signaled with his slide that the end was approaching. Occasionally, a shout of "Alleluia!" would come from the audience when the last note was sounded.

I suspect Woody and his crew, when auditioning for the job, lied about being able to read music, and pretended week after week in order to make some extra yen.

Does this story sound analogous to our country's Liars & Pretenders, aka politicians?

Don writes nonfiction in Port Orchard, WA.


Lying, Pretending, or Dreaming

  by Jenny Matlock

I have just poured myself a glass of water when the doorbell rings. I hesitate for a moment. Ready for an early night dressed in my shabby, old, red flannel nightgown, I don't feel appropriately attired to chat with a neighbor or turn a hopeful-eyed missionary away.

I peek outside through the small window in the living room and see flashing red and blue lights of something ominous in my driveway. I answer the door to find two baby-faced police officers. How can boys of twelve get into law enforcement anyway?

I feel old and haggard and tired and confused standing there with my icy glass of water chilling my fingers. I am detached as I watch their mouths open and hear words come out. The chill from my glass seeps through every pore of my body when I hear their words. Their words seep through every particle of my sanity, and in slow motion the glass falls from my hands and shatters on the hard concrete of my front porch.

I stumble back with a startled cry. The red and blue lights flash festively on the diamond-bright shards of broken glass at my feet. This must be a dream, but it is so vivid. So vivid and so clear.
But, yes, it is a dream. I toss and turn through the night, unable to fall into a numbing slumber. My mind is jumbled with words and thoughts, and the flash of imagined red and blue lights eerily permeate the frost that has seemed to settle over my brain.

I awake panicked, trapped by the folds of my shabby, old, red flannel nightgown. My mouth is dry. I splash cold water on my face to erase the cobwebs, and I sigh. It is going to be a long day. I will be gentle with myself. At my age, a sleepless night can be as devastating as a disease.

I walk slowly up the hallway to put the coffee on. I gulp thirstily from a glass of icy water. Its cold benediction feels like a memory and I turn away from the sink and go to get the morning newspaper. My front door opens to a glorious late Spring morning. The grass stretches away, green and lovely. The sky is that shade of pure, beautiful blue seen only on a newly-hatched Spring morning. The air smells like a promise. I take a deep breath and the scent of green and calm enters my body. All is calm. All is bright.

I step through the doorway and give a sudden yelp of pain. I lean against the doorframe and lift my foot. A bright drop of red blood gleams on my toe. I am puzzled for a moment, and then I see the broken shards of glass scattered and gleaming like diamonds in the early morning sunshine.

Jenny Matlock lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband, Steve, and their dog, Oskar. She has always written for herself, but after she started writing a daily blog almost a year ago she has now been striving to perfect her craft. She primarily writes humor but has also spent many years writing Corporate newsletters. In 2008 she self-published a humorous quilting book that was featured in Paula Deen's Christmas magazine. Tiny Lights readers can contact Jenny at jennymatlock@cox.net or may follow her blog at www.jennymatlock.blogspot.com.

Lying & Pretending

  by Lilia Westmore

Lying is telling an untruth. We lie because we want to hide some truth about ourselves. We lie because it is our recourse in having to deny that we are writers because we have not been published. We lie because we are not as rich as our neighbor, and if the neighbor finds out and broadcasts to the whole world the fact that we are poor, it may mean the loss of respect from others. We lie because the truth about us is not as good or better than our neighbor's. We lie because pride has taught us to lie.

Pretending is a fantasy behavior. We pretend to be rich because our neighbor is rich. We pretend to be writers, afraid to admit to other people that we are published only in a not-so-well-known paper/magazine. We pretend to be better than our neighbor because our pride makes us believe we are better.

But in the long run, lying and pretending are complementary to each other. We lie to pretend. When we pretend, we lie -- not only to our neighbor but to ourselves. It is too easy to pretend because lying is that easy to do. Lying always follows pretending.

Lilia Westmore is a writer!

Don't ask

  by Susan Bono

I don't know how a word like "pretending" can sound so innocent when related words like "pretense" and "pretentious" suggest deceit or a desire for undeserved power.

Pretending makes me think of children, downy-haired little girls with birdlike voices chirping, "Let's pretend we're fairy princesses!" and fluttering their imaginary wings as they leap about the back yard. Lying is a slick-haired conman with a cigar stub in his teeth and a wicked gleam in his eye. So is the difference between pretending and lying something about intent?

My mother always answered the question, "How are you?" with "Fine! How are YOU?" On a less than stellar day, was that lying, pretending, or none of your business? The Thanksgiving my brother was in jail she and my father planned to tell relatives he was vacationing at Lake Tahoe. I thought they were lying. They thought they were pretending everything was fine. Fortunately, no one asked me or my parents why Warren hadn't come with us, even though his absence was conspicuous. There are times when the truth is anybody's guess.

Susan Bono is guessing at the truth in Petaluma, CA.

Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

C. Larson, B. Povich, M. Petty, C. Crawford, T. Sanders

Columnists Emeriti: Christine Falcone, David S. Johnson, Betty Rodgers, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Betty Winslow


Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer living in Petaluma, CA. She has published Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. She conducts creative writing classes in Petaluma and Santa Rosa and co-hosts the quarterly Speakeasy Literary Saloon at the Aqus Café in Petaluma. She's on the boards of Petaluma Readers Theatre and the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. She is still writing a postcard a day. Her most recent publishing credits include Petaluma Readers Theatre, KRCB’s Mouthful, Milk and Ink, and Passager Magazine.

Marilyn Petty is a dyed-in-the wool Midwesterner, a long-ago émigré to California and a fortunate resident of Sonoma County, CA. She taught weaving through the SRJC for 8 years and was the reporter, essayist, editor and publisher of the Redwood Empire Handweavers and Spinners Guild for 10 years. When not tangling with yarns, she is unknotting words, writing poetry and personal essays. She putters in the garden when words fail her.

Catherine Crawford is a former technical writer, editor, and course materials developer for high tech industries. She has taught college English at the four-year degree level, published two award winning chapbooks of poetry, and written articles for 52perfectdays.com, a Portland, Oregon online travel magazine. She works as an editor in Vancouver, Washington. Her email: greenwriter1960@gmail.com

Claudia Larson, in her childhood, wrote long letters to her best-friend cousin and enthralled herself by writing a heart-rending story of two orphans. She writes fewer letters nowadays and prefers writing poetry and memoirs of her North Dakotan farm girl days. She is not yet an orphan, has six siblings and lives in Sebastopol, CA.

Becky Povich lives near St. Louis, Missouri. Although not young in "people years," she's only been writing for ten of those. Getting her first book completed, a memoir, is her current short-term goal. She can be reached at Writergal53@aol.com, or visit her blog at www.beckypovich.blogspot.com.

Theresa Sanders lives in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, where she is completing a novel. A former award-winning technical writer and consultant, she managed a Documentation and Training department before turning to her first love, creative writing. Her stories appear regularly in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Theresa welcomes email and would love to hear from you. Contact her at: TheresaLSanders@charter.net

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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