Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Lying Will Make Us Better Writers by Noah Baird

Noah Baird wanted to attend the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, but his grades weren’t good enough (who knew?).  However, his grades were good enough to fly for the U.S. Navy (again, who knew?), where he spent 14 years until the government figured out surfers don’t make the best military aviators. He has also tried to be a stand-up comedian in Hawaii for Japanese tourists where the language barrier really screwed up some great jokes. On the bright side, a sailboat was named after the punchline of one of his jokes.

He has several political satire pieces published on The Spoof under the pen name orioncrew.  Noah received his bachelors in Historical and Political Sciences from Chaminade University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He knows nothing about hoaxing Bigfoot. Donations to Clarity is his first novel.

You can visit his website at or his blog at
Connect with him at Facebook at

About Donations to Clarity

The plan was simple: hoax bigfoot, then sell tours to bigfoot enthusiasts. The plan wasn’t brilliant, and neither were Harry, Earl, and Patch. The three chemical-abusing friends only wanted to avoid the 9 to 5 rat race, but their antics attract the attention of a real bigfoot. When the misogynistic Earl is mistaken for a female bigfoot by the nearsighted creature and captured; it is just the beginning of their problems.

The U.S. Government has a plan to naturalize the mythical creatures living within the U.S. borders.  The problem is the plan needs to be carried out carefully.  You can’t just drop little green men and Sasquatch in the middle of Walmart without warning Ma and Pa Taxpayer. The naturalization program is not ready to be set into motion, and the rogue bigfoot is bringing too much attention to itself, including a feisty investigative reporter who uncovers the truth of the government conspiracy and two bigfoot researchers. No longer able to contain the situation, government agents are tasked with eliminating the bigfoot and all witnesses.

Between bong hits and water balloon fights, Harry and Patch come up with a plan to save Earl and the lovestruck bigfoot. Where do you hide a giant, mythical creature? In an insane asylum, because who is going to listen to them?

Along the way, the three friends learn Star Wars was a government training film for children, the truth behind Elvis meeting President Nixon, and the significance of the weight of the human turd.
How Lying Will Make Us Better Writers
By Noah Baird
Hi, everyone! I’m Noah Baird, author of Donations to Clarity. Today, I am guest blogging for As the Pages Turn.
Today we are going to talk about lying. I used to be a liar; now I write fiction. I lied so well someone published me. That means I have a black belt in telling lies. I am a Jedi Master of Bull.
You’ve been told your entire life not to tell a lie. As children, we held George Washington is great esteem because he could not tell a lie. Turns out, that whole little story about George was itself a big lie. We were told a lie to teach us not to lie. So, pull up your big-boy pants, and start squeezing that bs gland.
Lying will make you a better writer. Not those little ‘white lies’ we tell each other. I don’t mean when you tell your wife she looks great in those new jeans, or when you tell the neighbors how cute their mutant children are. I mean a gigantic, steaming pile of a lie. The kind of lies you can barely keep a straight face telling. Lies so big you feel sorry for anyone who believes you.
Mark Twain said, or at least he’s credited for saying, “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” The same goes for a lie. Have you ever heard a young child lie? Small children lie so poorly it is hardly worth listening to. It’s not until we are teenagers that our skill at lying becomes believable. And it’s not until we start drinking that they start becoming truly entertaining.
To write fiction is to lie. We pull the threads of bs out of the ethereal and weave the fabric of fibbery. If you want to write fiction that is believable, then you need to lie with conviction.
I lie to my children nearly everyday. I’ve told them lies, they have repeated my lies in school, and I get phone calls from stern-sounding teachers wanting to discuss their concerns about my fibbing children. That was another lie; my ex-wife gets phone calls from the teachers. I just get the talk.
I once told my son, who was attending preschool at a Presbyterian church, the reason we celebrated the Easter Bunny was because when Jesus died and was buried in a cave, an egg-shaped rock was placed in front of the cave so Jesus couldn’t get out. The Easter Bunny pushed the rock away from the cave and saved J.C. The chocolate symbolizes the wood of the crucifixion. We got a very nice phone call from the school to discuss what I’m teaching the children.
Sometimes I lie because my children ask far too many questions for their size. I have two little boys, 4 and 7, who are bubbling fountains of questions. Sometimes I lie because I don’t know the correct answer, but usually I lie because it’s a lot more fun.
One day while shaving, flanked by both boys quizzing me on my shaving ritual, my oldest asked me, “Dad, why do you grow hair all over your body and mommy doesn’t?” I crouched down to their level, looked them both in the eyes, and very seriously explained to them I was a werewolf. I had to shave because some people are afraid of werewolves, and I didn’t want to scare them. I watched as their eyes grew big. They both nodded obediently when I explained this was a big secret and they shouldn’t tell people I was a werewolf.
Here are the facts as I described them:
  • My hair is brown when I’m a werewolf (they asked).
  • I don’t transform in front of them because I’m afraid it would scare them.
  • I won’t eat the dog.
  • I became a werewolf when I was bitten by a werewolf when I was a boy. That makes me a 2nd Generation Werewolf.
  • They may also be werewolves, but they usually won’t show until they are teenagers. They would only be half werewolf because their mother doesn’t like this werewolf business. That would make them 3rd Generation Werewolves.
  • They may show signs early. I instructed them to check their feet when they woke up after a full moon. If their feet were dirty, then they were out howling at the moon.
At this point, the reader should expect a story about frightened children who could not sleep; afraid of the werewolf dad prowling around in the dark. My lie had the opposite effect: it stopped the bad dreams, monsters in the closet, and moving shadows on the wall. I hadn’t made the connection until I overheard the boys playing. My oldest, speaking as the elder statesman of the two, wished the boogyman would break into our house so I could transform into a werewolf and scare him away. My youngest speculated I would only need to show the boogyman my claws and roar, and the boogyman would never scare another kid again.
My double life as a werewolf has been the answer to numerous prepubescent concerns. Vampires? Werewolves and vampires don’t bite each other’s children because we are equally strong. A vampire attacking a werewolf’s pups would be inviting an attack on their children. Peace is maintained through equal power; the Cold War with fangs.
Zombies? Werewolves don’t taste good to zombies so they stay away from us. Of course, no self-respecting werewolf would ever eat a zombie. That’s just disgusting.
My oldest is now at the stage where he’s excessively fascinated with guns, war, and all about my military experience. Enter the werewolf; I fought in the Great Werewolf-Zombie War. Werewolves and Vampires rounded up all of the zombies and locked them into underground bunkers (because you can’t kill zombies. Duh!). You try to explain the U.S.’s foreign policy in the 21st century to a four year old. There are people running for president who can’t explain why we’re in Afghanistan.
Now, at this point, you are probably thinking: Noah, lying to children isn’t hard. And you are correct. I lie to adults too.
Many years ago, I was teaching an oceanography class to some young men and women who were working for the U.S. government. This particular portion of the lecture covered topics such as plate tectonics and Mohorovičić Discontinuity (In scientific terms, Mohorovičić Discontinuity is the surfboard the land rides over the mantle).
Because I wasn’t as familiar with the subject matter as I needed to be, as well as the students’ insistence on asking too many damn questions, I convinced them the reason the earth’s core was liquid was because of the ‘Half-Baked Brownie Effect.’ Never heard of the ‘Half-Baked Brownie Effect’? Well, I’ll explain it to you. The reason the earth’s core is liquid is because the earth is too far from the sun to bake all of the way through. Space is cold, right? So as the earth rotates around the sun, the dark side of the earth cools off, which causes the center to never fully bake. As far as I know, there are about thirty people working for our government who believe this to be true. The next time you hear of the government pushing another head-scratching policy; just remember this story.
You’re welcome.
On a road trip with my wife-at-the-time, we drove from New York into Pennsylvania. We passed a sign along the highway welcoming us to Pennsylvania, and about a half mile down the road we pass the back of the ‘Welcome to New York’ sign. My then-wife turned to me and asked why there was such a large distance between the two signs. I explained to my soon-to-be-ex-wife that the ink on maps which demarcate the boundaries between states occupies physical space on the earth. That narrow ink line on the map was about a half of a mile wide on the earth. This is where the term ‘No Man’s Land’ comes from. My ex-bride-to-be pointed out there was houses in the space between the two state borders. I explained those houses belonged to whatever state was closest to the house’s master bedroom. Houses on the north side of the street were New York.
Houses on the south side were Pennsylvania. If your bedroom faced east or west, then you flipped a coin to decide what state you paid taxes to.
As far as I know, she still believes this to be true.
Before I was married, I owned a dog. After getting married, it was decided by my future-ex-Mrs. Me that I should be the one to bathe the dog. Which meant the dog usually needed a bath. One day, apparently sick and tired of sharing a house with a filthy dog, my no-longer-wife called me at work to ask me how to bath the dog. I explained everything she needed to know about washing dogs, which consisted of: “You know what you do to your hair in the shower? Do that to the dog.” I did add one itty-bitty, teensy-weensy, little fib to the end of my instruction. I told her she had to squeeze the dog’s anal glands. All she had to do was squeeze each side of his little doggy butthole until everything that was going to come out was done coming out. She responded that she didn’t want to express the dog’s anal glands. I went on to assure her I did it all of the time. The truth is: I’ve never done it once; the dog follows me around enough as it is.
If you want to write believable fiction, you need to learn to tell an outrageous lie. Lying teaches you to create plausible falsehoods to support your bs. In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton didn’t write, “I don’t know what happened, honey. I turned on the lights and there were a bunch of dinosaurs everywhere!” He explained, in detail, how fossilized dinosaur DNA, when fused to amphibian DNA, could be used to clone dinosaurs. It was a huge lie and we loved every bologna-scented second of it. As you create your fictional world, learn to fabricate the rationale which allows your fictional world to exist. The more plausible your fiction is, the more realistic it will feel to your reader. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie to you. Now get out there and lie to someone.
There really isn’t a point to the dog story except I laugh myself silly every time I think about it. I would like to tell you I called my ex-wife back before she molested the dog. I would like you to believe that I am not the kind of person who would think my bride-at-the-time had better things to do than milk the dog’s anus. Let’s just say that isn’t the reason she left, but it was on the list.
“Carlyle said ‘a lie cannot live.’ It shows that he did not know how to tell them.”
-  Mark Twain’s Autobiography; Mark Twain in Eruption
“’Tis immoral to lie except for practice.”
- Mark Twain; Reported in the Washington Times.

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