Literary Lecture Series: Meeks Speaks

"Truth is what you make it. Each person has a different sense of truth."

Santa Monica College English instructor and novelist, Christopher Meeks, gave a lecture for the last event in Literary Lecture Series for the fall semester at SMC last Tuesday entitled, "The Pursuit of Truth in Writing Fiction."

During his lecture, Meeks committed to finding what he calls the "story truth" in his writing. According to Meeks, writing about what actually happened, the truth per the writer's view, is not as important as getting the reader to experience the feeling the writer experienced.

One of Meeks greatest influences is Tim O'Brien, author of "The Things They Carried."

Tim O'Brien served in the Vietnam War and wrote "The Vietnam in Me" for the New York Times in 1994.

 "The Vietnam in Me" has O'Brien confessing that he was probably going to commit suicide. Meeks felt that if O'Brien could be honest with his readers, then he could too.

Another influence for Meeks is Lorrie Moore who had a short story published in "The Best American Short Stories of the Century."

When Meeks first began writing he would erase all traces of humor in his work in order to have writing that he felt would be like Hemmingway or other classic literary writers. But after reading Moore's work, Meeks was influenced to use humor in order to make sad and horrible events lighter and easier for the readers to get through.

According to Meeks, he gets the best ideas while driving, showering and just before falling asleep.

Meeks also gets inspiration from his everyday experiences. As an example, Meeks described how he learned that his current neighbor attended the same university as him, the University of Denver. Not only did they graduate the same year, but they also lived in the same apartment complex. Twenty years later they are again neighbors.

Meeks' first short story, "The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea" got its first review in the LA Times. Soon after Meeks was invited to write a new piece that would be performed by actors at the Beverly Hills Library. Meeks wrote "Dracula Sinks into the Night" within six months.

When asked by an audience member which of his own works was his favorite, Meeks replied, "My favorite book is the one I am writing." Meeks just finished writing his new mystery novel the night before his lecture at SMC. The new novel entitled, "Laughter's Sadness of Sex" is funny and sad, which, according to Meeks, makes it hard to market.

Meeks continues to teach at SMC and writes short fiction and plays.