I’m excited to host another f.ree, day-long, telephone based Teleseminar—Click Here to Learn More. ([popup url=”https://www.namw.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/namwtssignup.html”]CLICK HERE TO REGISTER [/popup] ) As I write my new book, Truth or Lie: On the Cusp of Memoir and Fiction, I’ve been involved in the current conversation on the web, and in books and blogs about the rules, definitions, and confusion governing memoir, creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, personal essay and the “new journalism.” The ongoing conversation includes some of these controversial topics:
- How much can you change “the truth” in your memoir and still call it nonfiction?
- Are there silent but real governing rules when you submit your work for publication regarding literal truth and fact vs. subjective truth and interpretation?
- If people write literal truth, including actual names of towns and people, do they risk lawsuits?
- Has the “misery” memoir seen its day, or do people still hunger to read powerful though gritty inside stories of abuse, loss, and crimes.
- Can you write a “healing” memoir and still be considered for publication in today’s market?
- Is there inherent value in writing personal stories, beyond what reviewers, publishers, and lawyers have to say?
- If you use fictional tools, are you breaking the “truth” rule in your memoir?
- Is memoir and creative nonfiction the same—or are they different in ways that you need to know?
There are so many more questions that writers have—I talk to memoir writers nearly every day about their work—but the solid answers that people are looking for are not immediately obvious. Most of these questions have to do with context, with situations and specific stories, and each will have to be sorted out by its, perhaps confused, author. Still, how can we keep the creative process going in the face of all this controversy? Note that the first word in the title “Creative Nonfiction” is “creative!
Here are some suggestions:
- Be sure to tune in to our Telesummit! It’s free and you get the downloadable audios when you sign up to listen to at your leisure on your ipod or mp3 device.
- Of course, it’s ideal if you can be on the line with some of the conference conversations, you can add your own ideas, questions, and comments—we save at least 10 minutes for each speaker to answer your questions or take your comments.
- Keep writing. The best way to improve your writing is to listen to your own voice and keep capturing your stories.
- Read some of the books written by our Telesummit presenters as listed at the end of this article. They will inform and inspire you.
- Read the articles and books by Dr. James Pennebaker on the healing aspects of writing.
- Write responses to blog posts that inspire you. We are all part of a larger community.
- Google “Creative Nonfiction” to see what articles appear. There are quite a few articles on the web that will inform your questions and help to develop your writing skills. I listed a link with several good articles about the ongoing debates in the area of Creative Nonfiction.
Kathleen Adams Journal to the Self, The Write Way to Wellness
Sheila Bender: Creative Writing Demystified, Writing and Publishing Personal Essays
Linda Joy Myers The Power of Memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother
Sue William Silverman Fearless Confessions, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, and Lovesick
The Fourth Genre
Link to Essays on Craft: http://niemanstoryboard.us/category/essays-on-craft