Monday, October 20, 2008

Second Workshop Story

Today I turned in my second workshop story: "Kiko's Baby" (posted to the right). Who knows how it'll go--I took the suggestions made toward my last story and applied them here as best I could. I like the story (although I worry a bit about the end and if it's strong enough), but that doesn't mean anyone else will. I'm trying not to worry about that right now--I'm just trying to write a little more than I have been lately.

Other news:

  • I need to manage my time better so that I can write for class and for fun (cause trust me, writing for class at this point hasn't be as fun as I would like it to be).
  • It's getting cold (dropping down into the 40s)--I love it.
  • I've been feeling a bit stressed out and sad for some reason--grrrrrr.
  • I have an unhealthy addiction to brown sugar Pop Tarts and York Peppermint Patties--it's time for me to give them up cold turkey. They're becoming comfort foods. Delicious... delicious comfort foods.

My workshop prof wants me to write non-fiction stories and just change the names to make them fiction. I don't know how I feel about this... please weigh in.

Part of me doesn't like it because it's just too damn personal and I don't feel like spouting out all of my business to a group of people who are still strangers to me in many ways (even though we hang out every single weekend, which is amazing) on a public blog. And I don't like mixing the genres--fiction and nonfiction. I think part of it the privacy thing, but I think another part of it is my journalism background. You can't put fiction into non-fiction, so why is the reverse okay? Some people say that all fiction is non-fiction. I would disagree and agree with parts of that. I do put parts of myself in my characters, but I have never written a story that completely reflects my life and called it fiction. There's just something wrong about that. He wants us to write in a voice similar to Jamaica Kincaid's in her short story "Girl". He wants us to write in a voice (or voices) of our parent(s)--what they told/taught us. I can do this, but everything that I would want to write is somewhat negative, and that bothers me. I haven't decided if I'm going to write my revealing expose yet. I need to think about it more; wait for someone else to post.

I read my Chekhov story out loud on Wednesday. I'll post it here sometime this week. I don't want to read out loud.


Margosita said...

I'm a little confused- what's the benefit of writing a non-fiction story and changing the names? Is it an exercise in distinguishing the two or is it something else?

In any case, don't worry about being too negative. If it's true, write it. I think too often bad nonfiction writing comes from the author's wish to protect the people they are writing about. It's a general problem with nonfiction, I think. The relationship between what is and what is written isn't easy to figure out, always. Have you read David Sedaris? I've heard him talk about that issue before, but its clear from his writing that he doesn't hold back. I don't think you should either!

Amy K. said...

Writing Challenge for Tanya: Write the story of our former work colleagues in Aggieland, change the names, send me the story and let me play "Guess who is who."

Also, it would give us an opportunity to see if a comedy set in the office works as well on the page as it does on the screen.

Keep writing. Keep believing. Keep warm.

Esther said...

I give you permission to write a story about me. Just kidding, I like Amy's idea. I'm about to read your second workshop story. I'm sure it is amazing!

Eileen Wiedbrauk / Speak Coffee said...

I did that a lot when I was an undergrad -- co-opting my real life into fiction stories. Generally it starts by stealing from your own life and then it finishes with something fictional, because I always wanted my characters to have more quirks or to say something that actually tied in with one of my reoccuring images or something "story-like" like that. ... Although a lot of undergrads wrote like this however I gave a "me" character a big neurotic worry at one point (she flipped out b/c all her friends were getting engaged in college) and someone in workshop wrote a message directly to ME "don't worry it'll happen to you someday" No No NO! Me? I'm not big on the whole marriage thought and I was even less so then, it just seemed like an appropriate flaw to give the character. Anyway. The people in your workshop aren't 20 so hopefully they'll be more intuitive.

I understand why he wants you to do that; for a lot of writers that's where the truest writing starts, writing what they know, what they've already seen and felt and experienced. And *bonus* if it happened to you you're generally passionate about it. Besides, getting those teachers that push you to write wacky things generally makes your writing stronger (even if the stories themselves are, well, wacky).

Why not write a story about a grown woman driving cross country with her father?

Bunmi said...

I would say ... it's okay. Journalism-wise, it's wrong to pawn fiction off as non-fiction. But the opposite is fine. The reason why one is wrong and the other isn't is because of the expectations people have for non-fiction work. They are putting their trust in the fact that ever detail is true. With fictional work (much of which is based on non-fiction ... people tend to write what they know; and unless it's fantasy or sci-fi, fiction is meant to reflect real life) the expectation isn't there. People may wonder if it's true or not, but they don't really care.

Anyway ... when you make a part of you vulnerable to the world, that's usually when your best work emerges. You're being honest versus having fun and it challenges you to think about the best way to describe something to give it the best representation possible.

A lot of fictional work is actually non-fiction. Sometimes the writer comes out and tells people. Sometimes they don't. And there's a reason why there's a memoir category as well ...


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