Through middle school and high school I was a pretty avid writer. started out with fiction, writing novels for no one in particular and doing short and flash fiction for Power of The Pen competitions and classes. It was something that I really enjoyed and ended up enjoying more when I applied for the Writer’s Workshop at my school freshman year. I had never personally shared my writing with people I didn’t know. It was an experience that was new for me and it was then that I was really introduced to the idea of creative nonfiction. I had intuitively known it was thing, I’d read personal essays which were clearly more personal in tone than academic essays, but never really consciously thought about them as a separate genre. For me, coming up with stories, even with a prompt was always a hard task. I was always at a loss for a good story, my writing was good, but the ideas were rarely inspired. I can only think of a few stories that I came up with that were any good, needless to say, that does not a good writer make.
When I “discovered” creative nonfiction it was like a huge door opened up for me and writing. I came to realization that I could take my narrative voice and apply it to stories I already knew, to my life and to my personal experiences. I also dabbled in poetry at the time and the combination of the two really expanded what writing could be in my mind. Soon, my stories were turning poetic and my poems were new ways for me to tell the stories of my experiences, extraordinary and mundane alike. In turn, it helped me with my fiction, I was able to write from a much more authentic voice. I wasn’t reaching for crazy stories and scenarios, but simply writing the life stories ad personal essays of people that I had created in my mind.
For me creative nonfiction was a way for me to look at life in a different way, to understand that there is a narrative in everything that happens. When I wrote, it was my job to find the narrative that was the most interesting, that told the story in a clear and engaging way. Ironically, it was something that I still haven’t mastered verbally, but on paper, I have the ability to tell a story well.
Despite the ways that writing helped me cope and make sense of things, I stopped doing it formally once I got to college. Between classes and all my activities writing was more of a stress release than an activity and I only turned to it when I was going through a rough time.
This year, my senior year, I’ve finally been able to make time to write. I have been posting here regularly (at least trying to) and also journaling fairly often. Even though the nature of my blog is me just spitting words on a page and hitting post, it has been helpful to write and actually engage that part of myself more often. Next block I’m signed up for a creative nonfiction class being taught by Hampton Sides and while I’m extremely intimidated because I know the class will be filled with seniors who have been writing nonstop for the past 4 years, I am extremely excited. To be able to write formally again and expand my skill set, I honestly think that it will be a great experience, even if I don’t end up writing formally again for the rest of my life.
There are a lot of things that I have to look forward to this year, many of them things that are pushing me far outside of my comfort level. Between this class, my acting class, and the other activities I’m committing to, like dance workshop, I am pushing myself to try things that I’ve always wanted to do but never really had the confidence to. I’m hoping that this year will be a year of growth, and I think that this writing class will not only help me to grow as a writer, it will also help me grow as a student and a person and give me new ways to look at the things around me. Besides, maybe I’ll finally be able to tell a good story.