I still see Creative Nonfiction (CNF) as a mixture of different experiences from different people. But I must say that I’m still not quite sure of the entire definition. Maybe this post will help me figure it out.
In class, we are looking at two types of CNF essays: the “I” and the “Eye” essays. The “I” essay is written from the point of view of the person writing it about an experience that happened in their own life. So far, we read three different “I” essays, two of which I found very enjoyable, but the third (“Celebrity Dreaming” by Wayne Koestenbaum) was just… weird. There’s no other word I can find to describe it. But many people may find categorizing your dreams by the celebrities that were in them and their occupations a bit weird. Some may not. My favorite was a story “Mirrorings” by Lucy Grealy. I think the reason why I liked it so much was because she took a good look at her self esteem issues and tried to overcome them. I used to be very self conscious of myself, until a certain someone gave me that boost that I needed. I think that’s why that story means so much to me. The third (“Westbury Court” by Edwidge Danticat) I was indifferent about. It just didn’t speak to me the same was that Grealy did.
Now, the “Eye” essays are based on things that go on around you. You may ask “Things? What are these things?” Events or issues that have some impact on your life or not. I feel like it would be easier to write an essay on something if you really had a strong opinion about it (good or bad). The only one I entirely enjoyed from this section was “Secret Ceremonies of Love and Death” by Beverly Lowry. It really hit me because it posed the question: If someone killed a close relative or friend of yours and years later came up to you and said “I’m a changed person and I’m sorry for what I did” would you forgive them? I honestly cannot say what my response would be. I can’t see myself ever forgiving the person no matter how sorry or changed they were. Even if I said I forgave them, I think deep down there would be some grudge.
Both types of essays, like all writing, must be written in a way that they flow. All of the stories, save one, jumped from present to past and gave some sort of example for how or why they were feeling the way they did at the time. How they feel now. I have no idea what I want to write each essay on. I never felt that any part of my life was worth writing about, which is why I always turned to fiction. Whatever I end up working on, I feel that the “I” essay will be easier than the “Eye.” Right now several ideas are popping into my head for a type of “I” essay, but not even a shout out from “Eye.”
But maybe it doesn’t have to specifically BE anything. What I mean is, Creative NonFiction is what you want it to be. Some people write Lab Reports that are considered Creative NonFiction. The question is WHY? No, not why do people write lab reports (I don’t think I could ever successfully answer that one myself), but why is a Lab Report considered Creative NonFiction? Journalism could be considered Creative NonFiction because you are telling a fact story through an article. Those would be like “Eye” pieces. And Travel Writing could be either an “Eye” piece or an “I” piece depending on how it’s written. I’m guessing a Lab Report would be an “Eye” piece? Can’t say I’ve ever read one, so I’m not entirely sure. So Creative NonFiction is like formal story telling. It generally has the elements of a story, but it’s more fact and reality than a fiction piece would be. You don’t have to make things up because they already exist. Yea, sometimes people change characters names, but that’s for a personal reason. I think we’ve come across a major development here.
It’s currently 1:22 AM and I am singing out.