CNF – Creative Non-Fiction.
Yet another new term for me in this ever expanding world I have stepped into as a fledgling writer. One thing I have learned so far on this journey is that there is so much to learn. It can be a little intimidating at times, but it is always exciting.
Non-Fiction with a twist of spunk and pep. A splash of drama. Ooof. It might hurt a little. Especially when the thing you are writing about is personal.
I have found that some of my most sobering pieces of writing are CNF. There are a couple that are light and funny. Tales of university days or ridiculous conversations I have found myself in, but for the most part, they are emotional and heavy. And sometimes, very angry.
I had recently written about an incident that occurred in our old neighbourhood, before Random and I moved to the country. I was under the pressure of a looming deadline and I did not think I could finish it in time.
I buckled down and concentrated, and much to my surprise, I completed the piece. Unfortunately, I only had a very narrow window for editing and polishing. It was a longer story than I was used to submitting to competitions and literary magazines – save for the novella I submitted in February – so I was proud of myself for finishing it within the tight time constraint. And I was pleased that I was finally able to tell the story. It was stuck inside me for so long, I did not know if I could ever get it out, or if I did, how it would look.
I presented the piece, along with another much lighter piece, to Professor K, who immediately told me that to submit the lighter, shorter story. The longer piece was “too raw”. The frustration and anger I had felt at the time was still very much alive on the page. I did not see that as a negative, but I understood where the Professor was coming from. In that state, it was just non-fiction, the “C” needed to be added to the equation.
Okay, so, I tackled the story. I pried it out. But it is covered in guts. Now onto the next part of the challenge. Be creative, stay true to the story. Make it readable, enjoyable, but keep the emotional intensity. Ummmm, okay…I can do that…
For that particular story, I have yet to transform it. I think it needs to cure for a moment or two, and I am happy to let it breathe. It was cooped up for a long time.
Other pieces of CNF I have written have been submitted to various competitions and lit mags. I am very happy with those stories. To my mind they struck a nice balance between beauty and the true emotion behind the subject.
One thing seems true for me, as I write CNF about matters that remain deeply personal, there will be pain. But surprisingly, writing these pieces have been cathartic and revealing in ways that I could not have previously comprehended.
I will give that last piece a day or two, and I will get back to editing.