A Creative Nonfiction Writing Exercise

I'm taking a Creative Nonfiction writing class right now. It's kind of amazing. I was skeptical, at first, since I instantly think of biographies and text books when I think of non-fiction. And I had never truly considered that “creative” and “nonfiction” could be used together. Doesn't that border on a lie? Not if the author is genuine, aware of what they are writing. It's the agreement you make with yourself when you write nonfiction. You must always tell the truth. Now, that doesn't mean you can't use your writer voice or insert retrospective or memories. That is the beauty of nonfiction. As long as it is true, the chronology doesn't matter. Our first writing exercise was on the first day of class. We were asked to choose and object on our person and write about it. Then, we were asked to share with the class. My class is small, less than 10 students. So I decided to read my text aloud and now I'll share it here:

“Describe an object that defines you—then move into a more personal description.”


A bright pink wallet with worn corners. The fading cover is adorned by the “Gloomy Bear” mascot—an innocent looking bear in rainbow colors with blood running down its mouth. The back of the wallet is so faded it is hardly recognizable save for faded eyes and blood staring back at you.

I bought the wallet used from Goodwill. It was worn before it came into my possession; I have only worsened the wear over the last few years. It perfectly sums up my life—worn, bright and morbid. Rainbows and darkness lurk inside me.

I love shopping at thrift stores because I've been poor for a long time; I love Gloomy Bear because it looks Japanese in origin (it may even be). I love bright, unrelenting colors because it reminds me of being human and in control of things like color and volume. It is unapologetically vivid: like my hair most of the time and my curse words (or general vocabulary and backpack).

The wallet will need to be replaced someday but I'm not ready yet. Someday I'll find another wallet, probably at another Thrift Store. Chance are my hair will be a different color.

I have plenty of other things to blog about--but I've been too busy failing Geography and falling behind on homework to even think about writing. That's got to be the saddest thing I've admitted lately. However, after this week and I feel as though I may have caught up on school work, I plan on doing some serious soul searching (hah!) and get my writing priorities sorted out. I have to find a work-writing balance, and I'm taking tiny steps toward that goal.

I quit my day job after four and a half years.

I'm starting my own side business: selling my 1.5" buttons, key chains, magnets and 3.5" coasters--no doubt I'll make a big fat blog about that soon. It won't substitute my income but it will help keep me afloat. I have an incredible ability to spend money--and not much to actually make it. I am hoping to reach out to friends and family, local organizations and clubs and establish myself locally as well as bolster my online clients.

In order of priority, however it has to go : school, writing, work. Right now it is: school, work, not-writing. Not a stitch, except for what I write in class and small details I've gleaned from the pages of my Anthropology book for story ideas. As I said: I am making changes. I was asked recently if I planned on doing National Novel Writing Month this November. My first, almost immediate response was "No!" but then I reconsidered. My day job is out of the picture. There will always be school work. And then my sister reminded me that I need to write. And since I have felt this kind of suffocating darkness begin to grasp at my shoulders and whisper into my ear--I tend to agree with her. I feel sick, helpless, useless if I don't write. So... yes, damn it, bring on November. Wait, not yet. I'm not ready--

Creative Writing exercise: fabulism

Another few exercises for practicing Post Modernism writing techniques bring us deep into the mind of the characters. March 14th, 2016

Scenario: We chose a photograph (I didn't snag a picture like I usually do) and had to get deep within the head of the character.

Why am I always stuck carrying the stupid baby? I don't even like kids. Sergei thought as he rested the baby against his knee, propped up lazily on a lamp post. The light wouldn't turn red--it was nearly 5 o'clock rush hour--he'd be stuck at the light forever.

The little girl squirmed in his arms, snot-crusted nose red from the cold. Her little fingers were like sausages. As he saw it: he was doing the little girl a mercy by taking her away from her parents who overfed her. She'd be safer where she was going. And warmer and well paid. Her green eyes would fetch double on the market, a beautiful contrast to her brown hair.

I really wish I had a copy of the photograph. The man in the photograph didn't steal the baby, but my character did.


March 16th, 2016

We returned to a previous story to discuss the movement of Fabulism. Fabulism comes from fable and fabulist (not fabulous). It is essentially taking the "normal" and infusing it with something weird, something that should not be normal, and how people deal with it. Fabulism takes reality and twists it. It makes you question what you see and what you believe. It forces us to stop suspending our disbelief, to realize that fiction is fiction and that it is addressing you.

Scenario: Stay in your former style and then break it. Story: The Devil Loves Banana Bread

James used a high-end kitchen knife to cut the duct tape from Gabriel's wrists. The angel's pale skin would be bruised and bloodied for a day or so but he'd survive.

The door bell rang. James dropped Gabriel to the ground. The angel cursed loudly upon impact. The roof of the house peeled back as soon as the words left the angel's lips. Bright, blinding light filled the apartment. James' wondered what happened to the upstairs neighbors but the thoughts were burned from his mind with the light. A voice made his ears bleed and the angel's gorgeous eyes open wide.

"Gabriel," James' nose began to bleed profusely, "don't use such extreme language." The light ceased and the roof crashed down overhead.

James wiped away the blood with a shaking hand. The fire alarm began blaring--his banana bread was burning. Smoke billowed out from the oven--purple and glittering with hearts and yellow smiley faces and something that looked like an exclamation mark. James snatched the exclamation mark from the air, threw a smiley face so it hit the rising Gabriel in the stomach and pulled the point over his own head. He grabbed a bright green oven mit in the shape of a marijuana leaf and threw open the oven.

Lucifer coughed politely.

"Your upstairs neighbor is a dick."

"He is the worst." James said, waving another mit in the air to clear the smoke.

Gabriel finally rose to his feet, just in time to watch Lucifer rise form the couch and dance gracefully to the kitchen. He produced a fire extinguisher from the air--a curious one that matched red-black plaid shirt.