Or is it the other way round?
And can you always be sure which is which?
Take me, for example.
And this blog is real.
I don't write fiction on my blog, so everything you read here is real.
Or is it?
Maybe you've constructed me.
Maybe I've constructed myself.
Maybe I'm a figment of my own imagination and I've drawn you in to join me in the fantasy.
In which case, who am I???
(The fish say if I don't get a grip, I'm going to end up disappearing up my own arse any minute now.)
Bear with me here.
I haven't lost it.
In fact, I think I might have found it.
Except I'm not too sure yet what 'it' is ...
The thing is, when you write fiction you create characters and place them in a world that is also of your creation.
Except mostly it's not.
If you write contemporary fiction, you place your characters in the real world.
You put them in a situation and then you let them loose and see where they go.
Once you've done that, you've made them real, haven't you?
One of the reasons I chose to write a series is that I felt my characters were 'out there' after my first book, leading their lives whether I chose to write about them or not.
So I chose.
The situations I place my characters in may be more extreme than most of us would hope to encounter, but they're not totally unrealistic.
There are plenty of people who spend their lives lurching from one crisis to the next.
My own life has rarely run on a smooth plane for long.
I've survived a lot and I've learned a lot.
Not everyone's life is like that.
There are those who seem to sail on calm waters.
They fulfill parental expectations.
After a happy childhood, they go on to have secure jobs.
A decent standard of living.
They are the stalwarts ... the bastions ... the pillars ...
And - here's the thing I'm getting at if you're still here - what their lives have is ...
... a different narrative arc to mine.
Unless you're very young, you should be able to look back and see the narrative arc of your own life.
It might be shallow and steady.
You'll probably be contented.
This is what you want from life.
An easy ride.
Safe and controlled.
You feel secure.
You won't look back in 20 - 30 - 40 years time with regret because you've made a definite choice.
On the other hand, you might look back and see a series of alternating peaks and troughs.
You will have plumbed the depths of pain and bear the scars.
You will also have scaled the heights of euphoria felling that this is what life is for -
- to be lived to the fullest.
So what's the narrative arc of your life?
And would you really, if you're 100% honest with yourself, be able to live it any other way?
We're all the authors of our own lives.
And we're all real.