I have been writing fiction for as long as I’ve been writing. Like most writers, I tend to loosely base plots and characters off of stuff that has happened to me, my friends, or the general public. Sometimes I have to exaggerate things, sometimes I don’t.
Also like many new/young writers, I did not know that there was a “creative nonfiction” genre; simply memoirs or the nonfiction everyone knows with all the facts and history and biographies and etc. I didn’t learn about creative nonfiction until starting at UNCW last fall. I knew I had to take two levels of workshop classes, and I was nervous for it. Then when my brother died, I decided this semester would be a good semester to try it out. (Which has worked out in my favor, because since my brother died I have only been able to write nonfiction.)
Taking this class is confusing me because even though I’ve been writing fiction for about 13 years, I think I like creative nonfiction more. That being said, I sort of am afraid to admit that I like it more. I’m still unsure of how honest to be with my writing, and who exactly I can show. It’s sort of like I’m discovering myself. It’s an interesting feeling.
For my degree, I have to choose between concentrating on fiction or creative nonfiction. (I can also choose poetry, but that’s just not going to happen. Sorry, not sorry.) I think the fact that I am having to choose is hindering my writing for classes right now. I’m taking both my first-level creative nonfiction and my second-level fiction writing, and I feel like I can only focus on one. I’m lucky because I have such amazing TAs who are helping me realize that while, yes, I have to decide for my degree, I don’t have to decide for my life. I can write whatever I want, whether it’s creative nonfiction (like personal essays, a memoir, or Odyssey articles like this one), or fiction.
This goes for anything in life; not just writing. You don’t have to label yourself if you don’t want to. All you need to do is whatever makes you happy. For me, if that means writing nonfiction for the first time ever, then that’s what I’ll do.