‘The Independent’ newspaper published an article in which Donald Trump is quoted as saying that ‘fake news’ media is ‘the enemy of the American people.’ The following day we heard Donald Trump in a speech to his followers inform them that a wave of optimism is sweeping America. Each of us has the possibility of responding to either of these statements in agreement or in disagreement. That very fact made me wonder about the role of the author in being ‘fake’ or ‘true’ in what they write.

As an author, I find the whole debate about what is ‘fake’ and what is ‘true’ fascinating. In writing we even come across the word “faction” – meaning a novel which is based on a fusion of fact and fiction. Yet we are unaware that most of us create ‘faction’ in the stories we tell about our own lives.

In The Secret Wound, I explore the story of Gurtha who following the murder of his mother Nuala, travels to Mallorca for 40 days to find ‘the meaning’ of life – searching for a sense of direction which will help him deal with his loss and provide a compass guiding him going forward towards the end of his life’s journey which concludes with him understanding the meaning of his life.

As part of the research for the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the psychology of how individuals can experience the same reality in entirely different ways. Some ways of perceiving the world can be more ‘sane’ than others. What I mean by that is that they are more in touch with ‘reality’. I began to think about my characters in The Secret Wound – the ones who might be more damaged and distorted in their seeing and the ones who may be saner. What happens when characters within a spectrum of insanity and wisdom collide?

Of course it got me thinking about how do you decide who is damaged and who is sane? Or indeed is there anyone sane? How would you know? How would you know what is ‘fake’ and what is the ‘true’? It seemed to me that it was not so much about what my characters saw but how they saw. Each character could experience the same event in different ways. I was reminded of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development from pre-conventional morality, conventional morality and post-conventional morality.  

Being an optimist at heart, I wanted to explore within The Secret Wound, how even the most damaged ‘seeing’ of a created character, had the potential to change. Let’s imagine that pre-conventional morality is seeing from a sociopathic perspective, conventional morality is ego-based and post-conventional morality is a capacity to see beyond the ego - to see from ‘oneness’. 

Here is what Cynthia Bourgeault says of this ‘oneness’ in her articles on ‘Non-Dual Consciousness’,

“I believe the West’s key contribution to the understanding of non-dual perception is that this highest-order … level of consciousness is not a mere extension of the mind. It implies and requires a shift to an entirely different operating system which is anatomically located in the heart – or better yet, in entrainment or in tune with the heart … ‘putting the mind in the heart’.”

Maybe we can distinguish what is ‘fake’ from what is ‘true’ by observing if there is a connection to and a seeing from the ‘heart’. It is not my heart – but rather the one big pulsing, thumping, groaning heart of the world. If I can help my characters drop into that space of the beating life of everything – they become real and not ‘fake’. If I can only help one character do that – how wonderful!