In 2014, I was back from an extended blogging hiatus and trying to find my writing legs. It was when I first realized I needed to make the shift from Fiction to Nonfiction. Prior to that time, my Fiction was a jumble of the anxieties I was trying to sort without accepting or owning. In fact, I wrote a 192 page cycle of short stories as my MFA thesis that was based mostly on my family’s nonfictional experience with the Lebanese-American diaspora on both continents. It is a series of stories I hope to come back to, possibly rewriting as Creative Nonfiction. I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that Fiction can be an excellent tool when you are coping with topics you aren’t ready to address. Even more so when you use it to address your reality by writing yourself a different story. In my workshops, I use the practice of writing what “should have” happened so that we can explore the struggle and satisfy our hearts at the deepest level. In writing, we can give ourselves anything. All problems can be solved.
Below you will find a promise from me that still holds true whether it comes to Fiction, Nonfiction or any other genre of writing I’ve engaged.
Some stories are harder to write than others. Fiction offers a buffer, a safe distance from reality, even when the story lines are harsh or graphic. Life is visceral. I prefer my pretty fictions.
Some stories are harder to hear than others, even though we are human in our curiosity. In our inability to look away.
I have a true story. It is my creation. Not my birth, but the components of my life that make me who I am. I have wanted to tell it for years. I wanted to scream it in the most brutal moments, when I was a child who thought she could not go on another day. But the fear that silenced me as a child still sits on my tongue. It is harsh and bitter, and I hate how hard it is to write what I know.
Each of us carries our own defining pain. I was told mine is not as great as others’. Perhaps. But it is still mine. It is the darkness in my heartbeat, hidden in the pause between, in the rush of carried blood and that fraction of time when I am neither alive nor dead. It was given to me, and I will do with it as I choose.
Words have power because they can shine light in dark places. Anyone who reads my creation becomes a witness. Some stories are easier to say than to record.
Here are some words for others who are afraid like me:
Take these words, my friends. Consider them a promise. Dash them against the walls that hold you in, cut them against the ropes that bind you, and discover how to be whole. Use them to unstack the blocks. Create yourself.