Author Archives: Greg Pokriki

Putting the “C” in CNF

Often we as a society try to place our finger on the overwhelming ambiguity that is creativity. It is difficult to pinpoint. I have struggled with the question myself, trying to describe such an indescribable phenomena.

That is until recently when I watched (or read, I don’t quite remember) a piece on the general sense of creativity—where it comes from, how it happens and who posses it. Somewhere within the piece they referenced that creativity is like the wind. I thought to myself how perfect that is. And, rather than try to struggle for my own example, I decided the saner route of recognizing the near perfection of this example (creative of me, I know).

Creativity really is just like the wind. It isn’t something that we can see. Sure, you look outside of your window and say, “Oh, it’s windy today,” but not because you see gusts and more because you see its effect on something else. You do not see the wind blow, though you do see the tree sway in the sky and the leaf float above the also shivering grass. In the same sense you do not see creativity, but see a piece of art taking shape or a body of writing showcasing plot and character. Creativity is invisible, though its effect on other things is quite visible.

I think this kind of invisible stronghold that creativity can have on art is important, and important for creative nonfiction. At the base of it all, nonfiction is just a retelling of something that has already happened. It’s the creative part that welcomes art in.

The concept goes well with the first draft of a CNF piece. Many writers that I know just like to sit down and pour themselves onto the keyboard. And those first drafts still come out wildly, and sometimes surprisingly creative. There weren’t deliberate attempts to be creative, or super self conscious thoughts to be creative, but the product, though far from being done, has glimpses of creativity within it. It is the tree blowing in the wind.

Do we owe our allegiance to memory or the truth?

I recently was telling a friend a story about my kindergarden class– in our art classroom we had an iguana. When I was describing the class pet to my friend I said that it must have been about 10 feet long and that it was much more like a dragon than an iguana.

After some research together my friend and I found out that iguanas can only be about 3 feet long.

Now obviously I didn’t intentionally lie about the length of an iguana to bolster my school system’s reputation. I honestly thought that Iggy the Iguana was that large. In comparison to me as a five year old the iguana probably did seem that large.

Some in the world of nonfiction would say that I would need to go with the researched length of 3 feet in future tellings of the story because that was, in fact, the correct length. They’d say if it isn’t completely true it must be omitted. Personally I think that the 10 foot figure adds something to the story. In a way, a five year old thinking that an iguana was 10 feet long develops character, establishes some nostalgia and relates to common childhood sensations.

I think in creative nonfiction the way that we as writers remember events happening is much more important than what actually happened. That is not to say that the truth should ever intentionally be distorted, but creative and foggy liberty should be allowed. I believe that we owe our allegiance to memory rather than the truth. What do you think?