I wasn’t going to post a piece called Split in Two that I’ve been working on that began 6 months ago. It’s personal, it’s still in weak stages as far as coming full circle and keeping those plates spinning, but now I feel like I have to in order to address this little piece of advice I encountered on my dash. Funny how that works.
Now, I am not knocking the girl who runs the blog. I dig her prompt blog for the most part. But her advice on nonfiction writing bugged me. I feel like we nonfiction writers get a bad rep sometimes for being too boring or not fun enough, not as enticing as a work of fiction. Maybe it’s because we walk that line between fantasy and reality, and sometimes you don’t want to trust us. Fiction gives you that trust, you know it’s all made up, whether based off a true event or not; however, in the world of nonfiction, for every Didion and Vowell and Sedaris and Wallace, you get a James Frey. We get it. It’s hard not to exaggerate events in order to make a story work. So we know that you just won’t buy it right off the bat, sometimes.
But we are talking about writing, and writing about our lives and turning them upside down and shaking them like a snowglobe. I can’t take myself out of my writing, remove my emotions in order to list the cold hard facts. Sure, that works for brainstorming or recounting a moment or memory, but emotion makes up so much of a scene or a conversation, whether it’s in the form of fiction or nonfiction. To remove it just so you can make sure you are telling “the truth” is a waste of time. I don’t want to steer this criticism into a direction where we banter about what really is real. The way I see it, I’m writing about my experience in a situation or with a person. We all see the world differently.
So, with that said, I thought that was horrible advice for a creative nonfiction piece. (Granted, she warned us saying she thought it was weak to begin with, so I can’t hate too much.) Maybe it’s great if you are in a journalism class where you do want to sure of the cold hard facts, but this is creative writing.
Check out Split in Two here. We aren’t all boring and fun-sucking.