Each point of learning, each experience, each conversation, each sentence I write is slowly building a story, the overall design of which, although I am the one writing it, is as yet unclear.
Although this post isn’t specifically about publication, it is very much a part of my journey of learning; more points of connection in this web that is my story.
It’s now a week since I returned from the writing conference — and what a week it was! I somehow beat my own writing record (not something I was intending to do and won’t be in a hurry to try again) and researched and submitted three articles in less than 24 hours. By the time I hit send on that feature story at 5pm on Thursday, I was as tired as when I hiked up and back down Vermont’s highest mountain (another feat I’m not in any rush to repeat).
Today, it felt justifiable to take a day off from the freelancing frenzy to sit in the sun and do a little blogging. And to revisit these pages of notes from the conference. So let’s talk about the overall Creative Nonfiction, the fastest growing genre — and my genre — for a moment.
What is Creative Nonfiction?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Lee Gutkind, founder of the Creative Nonfiction magazine had some gems to share on this topic. Here is a mixture of his points (direct quotes are his) and my analysis:
Knowledge through Narrative: “Telling stories that matter to the world.”
Stories with Substance: It is a balance of personal experience and a sharing of information (the emphasis being on the substance/information). You share your story in order to tell a larger story.
Like fiction, it must have characters, scenes, plot, climax, resolution. But above all, it must relay information — teach something (NOT preach something).
“The brain is wired for story.” Humans naturally create stories about everything in our world.
It teaches us empathy through personal connection and resonance. When a story appeals to our feelings we will remember the information. When a writer shares their “obsessions” and the particular world they are immersed in — be that a medical situation, a home-building project, acts of activism, etc. — they will always find an unique twist on the subject even if it has been covered before, because it is through the author’s unique eyes/experience that it is now being seen.
The private story + the public one with reflection on what it all means, i.e. WHY I am telling you my story.
To read snippets of my memoir, “Leaving Fundamentalism in Search of Voice,” click here.