letter to myself… and notes on Non-Fiction

Here I’m supposed to tell you about good writing techniques… Unfortunately, me telling you how to write good creative non-fiction is like alpaca herder in South America giving advice about stocks to a stock broker….aka very unhelpful. But I’ll try my best, I mean if I had to write a letter to myself about the subject and I can personally do better in it would look something like this:

Dear myself in the not-too-distant future,

Well I’m supposed to give you this awesome guiding knowledge that help you improve or expand your writing. Well that’s kind of hard considering you, as a person in the future, already know what I am about to say… so basically it’s pointless. BUT I’ma write it anyway.

So here’s the deal: Stop repeating yourself. I know you think that every sentence you write is important to what you’re trying to say, but you don’t have to reiterate a point to nausea. Keep things short and to the point. When you keep repeating yourself it takes away from the impact you are trying to make. As for the target audience, I have no clue about that. maybe you in the future know, but I don’t. It’s not like you are writing for specific people, just people that resonate with what you’re saying, and who knows who those people are! It is hard for me to just pick certain people and exclude others…I don’t like to be excluded, it makes me mad.

I think your voice is pretty evident in your writing, my writing…whatever! I don’t know how but you should experiment with different writing style and techniques. I know you probably won’t because you’re too lazy. But hey! Just a thought to switch things up a bit. Oh and I’m supposed to tell you to keep moving the narrative forward…so yep, do that.


The not-too-distant-past you.

Yeah, like I said, I’m like a South American Alpaca Herder… this guy says it better.

-Lee Gutkind once said that “…there are two sides to creative nonfiction: the personal, as found in memoirs and personal essays, and the ‘big idea’—a public topic, the kind often tackled in literary journalism—each of which tends to attract a different audience. The ideal piece is one that explores a big idea from an intimate perspective.  This… is the writer’s mission.”

This is a general statement about the genre of nonfiction as a whole. It is not a cookie cutter way of writing nor is it actual fact. It is a helpful tidbit of an opinion that may be useful when we start writing our own nonfiction pieces. As for the works I read, “The Intimacy of Forks” by Liesl Schwabe and “Why I Remembered What I Remembered” by Angie Chuang, both were at varying levels of Gutkind’s “ideal” nonfiction piece. Both conveyed personal experience in an exceptionally prevalent way. In “The Intimacy of Forks” the author tended to weave a theme in between the personal stories as best they could, but some how it gave off a disconnected and choppy feeling, at least for me that is. Where as in “Why I Remembered What I Remembered” there seemed to be more focus on the main story or experience then there was on a “big idea.”

I think Gutkind’s philosophy is pretty sound in reasoning. I mean I like a good story as much as the next person, but it needs to relate to a common theme or idea for me to connect with what the author is trying to say. There needs to be a purpose.  If there is no purpose why should I read it? But what do I know, that’s just my opinion. That is the beauty of nonfiction, there is no one way of doing it. If you like just personal stories, go for it, if you like just plain idea essays, have at it. Write what you need to write. That’s what I do.


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