I took a course in nonfiction writing during my last semester of college, and one of the course requirements was keeping a writing notebook. On top of my paper journal, blog, and other coursework, the writing notebook turned out to be more of a chore than an enjoyment not because of the writing itself, but because I enjoy keeping everything in one place. Some interesting thoughts did come out of it (mostly from in-class exercises). Here are a couple of them.
-Ing. Writing. Being. Loving. Living. Ing ing ing. Gerunds are powerful things. I like writing. I like reading. They speak volumes more than the infinitive, yet in the romance languages the infinitive carries on. J’aime écrire. J’aime lire. The gerund is reserved for special circumstances.
Plural nouns. People. Groups. Experiments. Internets. (Hey, it had to be done.) Journals. Photographs. Drinks. Sandwiches. Lovers. Enemies. Memories (true and false). Confessions. Lives. Experiences.
Aren’t most of these what writing tries to capture?
At the end, I see why I prefer fiction–or at least why I prefer not knowing that I’m getting graded on my writing, which is one of many reasons I’m not a creative writing major in the first place. Writing is my therapy, my quiet place, my place to just be in times of stress or even in times of joy. Yet even after a semester of studying nonfiction, part of me wishes I hadn’t taken a writing course, and part of me wishes I had taken it sooner.
Writing for academia is stuffy. Howevers, Henceforths, and Therefores linger everywhere, and for some reason they just won’t disappear from my nonacademic writing. It’s part of my writing. Hell, sometimes I even talk that way. Ask anyone who reads my blog, which is a wonderful source of cerebral vomit.
Then there’s the writing notebook. I already keep a journal, and while I write in it less than usual this semester thanks to school (and then later lament why I can’t remember that witty conversation I had last week with my advisor), the requirement to keep another one is so taxing that I choose between it and my paper journal. Oh, and my blog, but we’ll get to that. In fact, this should go in my paper journal, but instead it’s going in here because I know I need something in here for a grade, and I’m on this topic, so why not? (Never mind the fact that I’ve already veered way off topic.)
I’ve also learned the prime lesson of NaNo over and over: You don’t wait for inspiration. You drag it outside and beat it with a club. I’ve been beating it with a club, but the story I want to tell just won’t come out, and quite frankly, I don’t feel like telling it right now. I’d rather write about rainbows and butterflies and tell stories.
Actually, I think what nonfiction taught me is that I really am a storyteller at heart. When I want to get deep, I get deep.
There is no real definition of what writing does or is. There is no one true way.
We are all writers, so why be so elitist about it?