Did I tell you that I was recently crowned Queen of England? No, because I wasn’t — and you know that already. If you didn’t know, you could check within fifteen seconds on any normal PC or phone.
For all the obvious reasons, we’re told from an early age to tell the truth — it allows us to operate on our strengths, seek help for our needs, and forge genuine friendships.
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Telling the truth also saves us from being caught lying (going to jail, dying of shame, never having any friends ever again, making our mothers mutter — and all that). So who would lie on a CV about something that can be checked online in three seconds flat?
According to Uschi Gatward on the Mslexia blog, a contemporary writer has been doing just that; claiming writing credits that aren’t real.
What tastes best — whiskey, chocolate, or gossip?
Well, I already have a whiskey, and I don’t like chocolate, so my Inner Awful is doing a glee dance and I’m off to Google “Usche Gatward longlist” and work out who might’ve been telling porkies about something so checkable and embarrassing,
before I do this, I’m going to update my website, to make sure all my short story links are working.
Let’s make this clear: Gatward’s post is not about me — I have never written for a college rag, as per the writer she describes, and I’ve not appeared on a lot of lists with her (although I note somewhat warily that we shared the 2013 Bristol longlist) — but it could nearly have been.
I noticed that she’d claimed to have been shortlisted for a competition that I knew she hadn’t been shortlisted for (big money, small list). I double-checked: nope, she had never been shortlisted for that competition. I picked another: nope, never shortlisted for that one either.
And it occurred to me, half of my own “listings” use a pen name. Sure, I’ve mentioned this on my website, and some publications retain the old name so the information’s available, but would every reader pick the right name before searching a list? Hell, when I wrote my bio, I never imagined anyone would search for me at all (and they probably haven’t).
In short, my credits could all be worked out, if a bit circuitously, but I can see how easy it would be for someone to fail the Gatward test by using a pen name and forgetting to update their website.
How many writers forget to keep their old story links up to date? (Me, and a gazillion others…) How many have used a pen name? (Me, and a horde…)
I have no idea whether someone has made false claims about their longlistings (look at me blogging, when I should so obviously be Googling and gossiping…) but from this latest Mslexia post, it’s very clear that any credits on a writer’s website need to be substantiated. Otherwise, someone will assume you’ve MADE IT ALL UP.
It’s enough to make your mother mutter.
And now, to Google… #anon