Sunday, February 5, 2012

True Stories

I'm taking a class this semester in creative non-fiction writing. It is the art of telling true stories.
Any story that you tell from your memory should be true to the best of your recollection. You should write it true to memory. The challenge of this class for me is going to be picking the two memories that will become my stories. Do I write about the time that I came home to my apartment and thought that we'd been robbed, only to find out that my roommate was moving out and hadn't said anything to me? Do I write about the time I moved out of my family home despite my father saying that I wouldn't be able to come back when the summer was over; and me, not believing him, made no plans and ended up living out of someones closet? Homeless really but for the charity of friends, never having to sleep on the street, but once or twice in apartment building hallways. Do I write about the time Paul and I went to New York City and there was a snow storm and his car was towed but when we asked the police the first time it wasn't "in the system" yet and we spent all day trying to find that car? Or what about the time when I was six and the principal invited me to a meeting of school board members and my dad was so very proud of me? Or what about the time that Roger and I spent several hours on a blanket in the middle of a field, just looking at the stars and waiting for a lunar eclipse? Do I write about moving to Virginia? Or interviewing at Smith College? Or maybe a story about Paul and the wonderful adventures we've had together? Or Buddy Bird coming to live with us? Do I go back to childhood or write about something more recent? And because the content of the story, whether it is shocking or funny or sad or inspirational, doesn't matter towards the grade for this assignment, how do I pick a story that I can tell with finesse? A story that I can make come alive on the page the way it is still alive in my head? This is the challenge I face, and I know that I will find one story for each assignment, but will this class open the sieve? Will I finally be able to write it all down, to make sense of it? And more importantly, will I look back too much and forget to move forward?

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