Did That Really Happen?

When people ask me which genre I prefer writing more, fiction or non-fiction, my answer was always absolute and without hesitation: fiction. I found comfort in the limitless possibilities of my characters and their worlds. I never had to ask myself; wait…did that really happen? But surely non-fiction is easier since you’re writing about already predetermined events, right? There’s no figuring out plot or making up character dialogue because the characters in non-fiction already exist and the conversations have already been had. Wrong.

Putting into experiences into words, some which may have happened ten years ago, is extremely difficult. Furthermore, making those experiences worth reading about is an entirely different beast. When I first ventured into CNF, I felt useless. The only way I can describe it is like this: you’re sitting at a table with your friend and they’re telling you about a dream they had last night. To them, it’s interesting as hell and worth sharing, but to you–to you it’s only worth hearing if you’re involved, there’s sex, or someone dies. How can I turn my personal experiences into something universal?

Doing this meant I still had to characterize, perhaps more than I had to in fiction. Because I knew the people in my stories so well, it became really hard to distance myself from them. Do I really include that fight I had with my dad? I don’t want people to think he’s an asshole. In CNF you just have to bite the bullet and write what you know, write what other’s know, write the human experience.

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