Tuesday, August 18, 2015

on not writing fiction


Summer is almost over, and mine was busier than I would've wanted!  However, I did get some rest, and I also got some time to reflect.  One big decision I've recently made is that I'm not going to continue working on my novel (for now).  As an experiment, I began working on a fiction piece last September, and somewhere around April this year, I found myself losing momentum.  I missed writing poetry.  I wasn't sure where I wanted to take my story, and why I needed to write it.  I felt lost.  And I felt overwhelmed by trying to do too many things at once:  teach, write a novel, write poems, and live the rest of my life.

In June, I signed up for a poetry workshop with Tresha Haefner, and it was amazing.  For six weeks, our group of five poets gathered in her home every week to generate new poems and workshop the ones we'd typed up and brought along.  Tresha is a spirited writer and mentor, and her passion for poetry is infectious.  I felt myself getting inspired and writing with a verve I'd missed these past few months while working on fiction.  It was a relief to be home.

So after some soul-searching, and reading this post on the pros and cons of working in more than one genre, I've made the decision that I'm going to concentrate my efforts on poetry writing for now.  It feels good.  Fiction writing may be in my future, but today I need minimalism.  And if I do decide to write a book someday, I want to feel a compulsion to tell a particular story, a story that can't be told another way. I began my project last year with the compulsion to write fiction, not necessarily a particular story.  And once I'd played with prose for a while, I realized I needed to have something to say.  With poetry, I feel a compulsion, and I have the desire to communicate something.  It's still work and it's still revision.  But I like the leaps a writer can make in a poem, the way she can filter a moment through symbolism, surrealism, metaphor, and rhyme.  I appreciate the brevity and minimalism of the form, often combined with its intensity.  I like taking photographs with words.

And that said, I am in awe of fiction writers.  Last year, through working on fiction, I got to experience first-hand how fun, challenging, frustrating, and mysterious the process of creating a story can be.  I love reading novels, and I love escaping into the dream of another world.  Good storytellers are magicians in that they are able to evoke a particular world. I don't think life would be as livable without moments of escape, without reading.

And though I may love reading stories, I don't necessarily want to put effort into writing one.   What I've learned through my process of experimenting with fiction this past year, is that the writing mind is like an ocean.  The waves keep shifting.  Sometimes the tides steer you one way, and at other times, another.  It's fine to move in the direction the currents are guiding you.

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