Non-Fiction ( and why it’s so hard to read and write)

There’s something about literature that I’ve enjoyed since I was a child. Books? Words? Reading them?!! It just connected for me. When I was younger, I started writing poetry and as I got older, I started writing (and reading)fiction . One thing I was never able to get behind was non-fiction writing and reading.

Now don’t get me wrong, non-fiction is a great category and a good writer is able to pen a story that is as personal and real as it is a story.

It’s truth, but with the elements of writing, it transcends truth into experience.

In this post I’m going to talk about my experience with non-fiction and why it’s a bit difficult for me to get into that area of fiction.

When I talk about non-fiction writing I refer more to autobiographies, memoirs, that type of writing. I don’t refer to self help books (although Chicken Soup was the ISH when I growing up).I also don’t mean newspaper articles or academic journals that are supposed to be non- fictional by nature.

As part of my degree, I had to do a core course that involved  learning different types of writing : movie reviews, interviews and memoirs. The Memoir assignment was the hardest for me to do. I knew what I wanted to talk about- it’s my life but how? How do you express an experience that changed you to other people, mostly strangers, and show them everything you felt? It’s hard and I struggled with it.

The thing is I was just writing a memoir, people write full novels, sometimes sequels and sagas

That experience I had struggling to write that two page memoir left me with a lot of respect for people who write memoirs. And people who write them successfully?? kudos to you. Let me elaborate, I have no problem trying to write articles, once I have my facts, I can do it. It’s more the emotional aspect of non-fiction writing that leaves me uncomfortable. The emotional aspect has a lot of worth to the process and finished aspect of the art and it’s not that easy for me.

This leads me to actually reading non-fiction. I’ve read a few non-fiction books. I prefer to actively set out to look for non-fiction books than be forced to read them. The few non fiction books that I read ( or that I remember reading) are: Ben Carson’s “Gifted Hands” and Dave Pelzer’s “A Boy Called It” series. I can’t remember if I finished all of Pelzer’s series ( if I didn’t it was because my library didn’t have the books) but I can be sure and say I didn’t finish Carson’s.

In the first place, my grandparents gave me it and I wasn’t forced to read it but they expected me to. This was well before 2016 and when Carson was just a surgeon. I had no idea who this man was and to be quite honest I didn’t care. I just couldn’t finish it. It wasn’t interesting to me and now I have no idea where the book is. I think I gave it away…

When I choose not to finish a book, that’s the greatest insult I can give an author

By contrast Pelzer’s books were captivating and heart breaking. I don’t remember how I learnt about them or why I picked it up but I did. His stories broke my heart and made me both angry and upset at human kind. He wrote in a way that was reflective but still portrayed what he felt as a young boy. He did it skillfully in a way that may me want to read and see him succeed. Even to this day, I might not remember the entire book but I remember a lot of the events of the books, thing that happened. Things that he didn’t write as defining moments but daily events that were seen as normal to him.

That is the mark of an interesting/good non- fiction work to me. I’m able to remember the little details

I’m still not crazy about non fiction but regardless of the genre, a  good story draws me in every  time. I’m thinking of reading “I am Malala” next. From what I understand it’s more of a retelling of her story and more her thoughts in the moment and not as story telling as other non fiction but I’ve wanted to read it for a while.

What are some other suggestions you’ve got for me?






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