I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately about NaNoWriMo, where bloggers are updating their readers on their progress, what is working, what isn’t, et cetera. Even writers who have managed to clock in over 10,000 words, still talk about their frustrations and how finishing the challenge terrifies them. I feel slightly left out. I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy (where you were required to write a 100-page script in the month of April) for around five or six years. Script Frenzy closed down last year and, I’ve decided not to attempt NaNoWriMo this time. I made a choice, because I’m doing National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo and that, for now, seems more realizable and important than attempting a novel. Making the choice got me thinking how I feel about Fiction and Non-Fiction as two distinct modes of operation in writing. There are a few, rather unpleasant conclusions I’ve reached. I don’t believe they apply to these two genres on a universal level, but they certainly do to me personally.
I read Fiction much, much more than Non-Fiction. If that hadn’t been the case, if it was only cold, factual writing that was offered to me, I would not have cared about language and the imagination at all. Fiction is much more proliferate and lasting when compared to Non-Fiction. One of the reasons for that is, it is more universal, versatile and can be modified in terms of age and background. Imagine an illiterate farmer in the 19th century. He may not have understood the jargon-laden rhetoric of the local politician but, put it in a song, and it might have meant something to him. It may have been the musicality of the words, the music itself, that may have successfully given the impression that the more intimidating, formal speech of the politician wanted to convey.
There are some natural assumptions about Non-Fiction. You expect something simple, direct, logical and most obviously, truthful. Let’s say you wanted to analyze a poem in your literature class by writing your response in the form of a poem. Creative, yes, but even if your teacher is one of the most adventurous educators ever, she will, most definitely, smile condescendingly and tell you to obey the rules.
Of course, there is imaginative Non-Fiction. Sometimes, on a more literal level, where all your factual writing is quite deliberately, a lie. But, also when you employ literary tropes and techniques to convey your facts. You may even write your essay in the form of a poem(though Dorothy Parker’s “Resume” isn’t an actual resume!) and yet have it technically considered an essay and not a poem. You may create personas, fictive settings, conflict, or even an Aristotelian plot-curve.
With my writing here, I try to be as conversational as possible. How I write here is how I speak. My moods get reflected in what I write. When I’m feeling chirpy, I write with the deliberate intention of making you laugh (or, like yesterday, dance!). When I’m feeling sombre (like today, for I have a terrible cold and fever), I write with a more serious tone. The subject matter, like nearly all subject matter, could be dealt with in both ways.It is not the thing, it is how you look at the thing.
What is making me slightly envious of NaNoWriMo writers is that while they have their brains fermenting with ideas for different characters, different worlds, I’m stuck with only myself as writing material. Of course, I could have just done NaBloPoMo as a series, describing my moods on every single day. Something like Of Chirpin’, Of Dread, Of Wanting to Hit my Head with a Hammer. The Feeling Series! Where you read the mind of a person that swings from one mood to another and back. And back again. Like a monkey. Brought to you by MMM – Mind Matter Money where we get you to pay us for your problems!
Writing can be a lonely activity. Doubly so, when your only character is you.
But, I’ll still soldier on. With the response I’ve had lately, whatever I do here, seems to be working. I may not have a novel, or a factual understanding of myself, by the end of this month. What I will have is what I’ve had for the past five months of blogging here. An unknowable, intangible thing that somehow binds you and me.