Author Archives: Christine Petromallo

Ambivalent Writing

What is the fun in reading something about an author that is sure about everything?

What makes creative nonfiction writing interesting is the unknown and the working through of thoughts and ideas. The author is usually situated in some type of scene, whether it is past or present, and writing about that allows the author to reflect on this scene and make a new discovery about it. If the discovery has already been made, the unknown is diminished. This (self) discovery often comes in the form of self-critique, a cultural critique or a mild epiphany. By looking at the situation from different perspectives and analyzing it, we come to a conclusion, which is usually the theme of our writing.

Writing gives us a chance to explore and reflect on our own experiences, and part of the journey is turning that experience into some type of finding. If we go into the experience with our end goal already determined, we may lose some of that curiosity that makes it exciting.

Ambivalence is uncertainty, and in writing, that is okay. It is okay to be unsure of the theme of your writing; working through these uncertainties allows the reader and writer to understand the magic of writing- discovery. As we look at our experiences we come to realize something that was not there at first glance.

As writers we need to be less focused on the cut and dry truth of the matter, but more on the reflection of what got us there.


Here David Wanczyk explores ambivalence, intensity, and nostalgia in writing 

Fact vs. Fiction, that’s why we call it creative

One of the bigger controversies in the creative writing is the dilemma over fact and fiction within the essay. Many people argue if the genre is labeled with nonfiction, everything must be factual, but what happens when you tack on creative in front of it? I am here to explore.

Does it really change the meaning of the story if you call Greg, Jim or change his hair color from gray to brown? It is beyond the human brain’s capacity to remember each and every detail of a scene, therefore when reading or writing a creative nonfiction piece, you must take it with a grain of salt. Everything that is explained may not be entirely accurate but it is for the reader to determine. The importance of this genre lies in the pen of the writer, it is their job to retell their own experiences and modify them as needed.

After browsing the web I found an article where a quote was displayed by Ryszard Kapuściński; “Almost all journalists, except for a handful of saints, do on occasion sharpen up quotes or slightly shift around times and places to heighten effect. Perhaps they should not, but they – we – do.” Why do we constantly strive for absolute perfection, why do we insist that the truth should never be stretched even in a creative atmosphere? These are the pressing questions of the genre. The blogger above agrees that all writers tend to adjust the truth to strengthen the effect of the meaning they strive for.

The point is the question over fact and fiction in the genre of creative nonfiction is subjective. Everyone will have their own opinion but it is important to recognize the genre is unique in the way that it contains both creative and nonfiction elements, and it should be praised for being different!


Another take on the question….