Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Seeing is not believing by Juliana Aragon Fatula


This photo was taken a few years back in my front yard in my aspen grove by a great friend and photographer, Tracy Harmon. It was later photo shopped by another great friend, Crissy Red. They are both artists and made me look better than I do on an average day.

On an average day, I wear my pajamas all day and rarely comb my hair. I don't wear fake eyelashes and I didn't dye my hair red. It's an illusion. Some of my students and friends believed this photo was real. It's very easy on the Internet to fabricate photos and stories.

The same day this photo was taken in my aspen grove and later changed from color to black and white for effect. It's a photo taken by Tracy Harmon and one of my favorites. She captured me at peace in my garden with my favorite drink, chai.

This photo was taken at Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming. I'm wearing my favorite fleece jacket that I purchased in Westcliffe, Colorado several years ago.

My point is this photo could have been taken anywhere. Another illusion. My husband captured this photo and a friend of mine took the photo created a beautiful tile and made a necklace for me. The tile is small and looks like turquoise because of the lake. Another illusion.

In this photo, I'm wearing my glasses and trying to look smart. Another illusion. I'm average intelligence but the glasses make me look more intelligent, like I know what I'm talking about. I don't know much about anything.

In Pennsylvania on vacation visiting the university, I'm wearing vata shades and red lipstick and my favorite jacket because of the turquoise color. I look happy. I'm smiling, but inside I'm a torrent of worry, sadness, and anger. I'm a basket case, but the illusion of this photo is happiness.

You can't believe what you see or hear or read anymore. It could be fabricated or altered, or hacked by Russians.

Final photo taken by me, in my kitchen, on my cellphone. I'm not a photographer; I'm a writer; a performer. I'm performing. I look stoic. I look like my Navajo grandmother.

If I wear something else I can look Arab, Muslim, Hawaiian, I've been a Wooden Indian, a cowboy,  a Shakespearean Courtesan, a bag lady, a drug addict, a Mexican legend: la Llorona. I am all of these things and none of these things. It's an illusion of stage and film that makes me look like something I'm not.

Next time you see a photo or story online and you have questions about it's authenticity, remember this blog and these photos and that in today's world, nothing is as it seems. And remember as my great friend, Manuel always says, "Every where you go, there you is."

This is why I write fiction. I love mysteries. I love scheming up plots and clues and secrets and murder. But it's not real. It's fiction. Some people will believe anything. Others are never fooled.

I'm reading a great book by a great author, Linda Rodriguez, Plotting the Character Driven Novel. I'm studying all of the books on writing by master writers in order to learn how to be a master writer.

A great mentor, Sandra Cisneros, told me, "Don't be a good writer. Be a great writer." And that is what I strive for, greatness, because otherwise why am I wasting my time?

So my mystery is a work in progress and I've given myself a deadline, but I know I have the rest of my life to complete this masterpiece. If I keep learning and writing and reading other great writers, I'm confident that one day I'll be published and go on to write more novels.

I'm a poet, a storyteller, a performance artist, a hard working writer with a mission. To tell the best story I can because I have something important to say and I'm going to tell my story. A story about the Colorado Sisters and the Atlanta Butcher.

I can use all of the encouragement and support I can get. So if you read my post and want to send me advise, tips, techniques, I'm always eager to learn and become the best writer I can.

I'm starting the new year with a new attitude. I'm not going to give up on my novel, even when I get discouraged and feel like a failure. I'm going to look at the progress I've made in my 60 years and look forward to creating stories, because stories are important. They tell us about history, culture, language, politics, society, even if it is fiction. There is truth in everything I write, you just have to look for the truth not the facts.


  1. Insightful stuff. Beautiful ending about truth and facts.

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  3. “¡Ay, Chavela!" Thanks for living out loud - and saying what we're thinking but won't say. I adore your spirit.

  4. What a great post, Juliana! And not just because you had kind words for me. I love the spirit of this post. It's the spirit of skeptical inquiry, determination to work for greatness, and faith in your dreams that we all need right now.