Some of us have been raised to always be nice, to not say anything at all if you can’t say something nice. Gosh, I have a hard time with this. I’m a horrible liar and if someone asks for my honest opinion I give it to them. No, I don’t like your boyfriend. Yes, I think it’s stupid that you quit your job. OMG, you look like a hussy in that dress.
My mother tells me I’m too honest. Honest to a fault. I’m in good company. George Washington could not tell a lie. Abe Lincoln wasn’t called honest for nothing.But now I’m facing a dilemma where I might have to lie through my teeth.
A few months ago I met a woman at a function. She was one of those friendly talkative people and a few minutes into our conversation we discovered we both are writers. I always love meeting people who do what I do and was glad to make her acquaintance. We shared what we were working on and she mentioned that she would like it if I read her one of her books and gave my opinion on her writing. “Um, sure,” I answered, not knowing what else to say.
I thought at most she was going to send a few pages of her manuscript but no. Out of her bag came a book, a real book with a cover and everything. “Don’t you like the cover?” she asked me. “Isn’t he a real hottie?”
I nodded dumbly. It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, your hero looks like a homeless drug addict.
“That will be 24.99.” she said, as I gazed at the ugly cover art. It took a full moment for her words to hit my brain.
“I don’t have any cash on me,” I told her, hoping that would get me out of buying a book I had no interest in buying.
It didn’t.”I take checks,” she replied. “Just make it out to cash.”
GRRR! I should have lied and said that I didn’t have my checkbook on me. But I did and I’m such a horrible liar that most of the time it doesn’t occur to me to lie. So out it came, along with my reluctant signature. Tada! I was the owner of a book that I did not want.
I left the book in the back of my car for a month. Hey, I was disgruntled. I could have bought three book by authors I like with that money. I had a mental block on reading it. But then I ran into the woman at the mall of all places and she asked me if I liked her book. I had to tell her that I didn’t get around to reading it yet. She looked slightly disappointed and of course I felt guilty. That night I took it out of my car.
It took another month for me to read it and when I did I was sorry I opened it. It was awful. My pet peeve is writers who write in dialect. A little is fine but every other word out of hero’s mouth was y’all or lookie here now and I found myself gagging. The hero was really unlikable. I read and read hoping he would redeem himself but that redemption never came. Plus it was long, like 427 pages long. I wanted to put the book down, to shove it the pile that getting donated but I couldn’t. I wanted to be able to truthfully say that I finished the woman’s book the next time I saw her.
I can say that. I did finish it. Every painful word. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the writing is brilliant and I have no idea what I am talking about, but I doubt it. The book was just plain bad and now I am faced with the daunting prospect of having to tell big fat lies next time I run into her.
As a writer I know how much work goes into to churning out a manuscript and the even greater task of self publishing.
This woman was so proud of her work, so proud of her ugly cover and her endless prose that I can’t bring myself to tell her that I hated her book. I know I would have a hard time taking it if I were in her shoes.
Maybe honesty isn’t always the best policy.
What would you have done in that situation? Have you ever told a lie to spare someone’s feelings? Are you a good liar? A bad one? Got a story to tell?