Tag Archives: fiction

Writing From The Unconscious

In looking back at some of my old works, I’ve realized how powerful the unconscious is in my writing. It seems I’m often trying to tell myself something that I don’t realize until seeing it in retrospect. It’s an interesting way to think about writing control.

Huh … your writing always seems like you were unconscious. So, have you ever had someone find things in your story that you didn’t intend to be there, but you realize is absolutely true? I mean, it’s traceable, it’s obvious, but you didn’t put it there … consciously.

That’s what I’m talking about. It’s an interesting thing. Some writers talk about channeling a voice or some such, but it seems clear to me that what they’re really channeling is an unconscious part of themselves. It’s some part of them that is desperate to talk but has been shut down, closed off, and this is the only way it can find its way out. Writing (or other creative work) seems like it can very effectively serve as a spout for the hurting self.

You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you. I guess, in the past, I have prided myself on being in control of my writing. I’ve talked about it this way: “I am the god of my writing, and I am omnipotent. I am the creator.” And I still kind of feel like that’s true … except there are parts of me that are creating that I’m unaware of.

Unfortunately, when the unconscious speaks too much, it ends up being rather emotionally transparent. I’m not much fond of the idea of writing autobiographically, yet so many of my older works (and even some of my newest works, at least to a degree) end up speaking to my personal emotional experience. There’s some well within me that leaks onto the page, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Getting all touchy-feely, eh? Well, that’s just it. Should fiction be wholly fiction? Should writers have better control of that unconscious self? Should it be embraced? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I feel like it has made my past work something repetitive … redundant, even (get it? ‘Cuz I said it twice).

A poet friend of mine talks a lot about writing as though he is a medium. He feels this is important to writing poetry effectively. Maybe it’s key to embrace it. I don’t know. I know, when he first said that to me, I found it preposterous and distasteful. I again thought, BUT I AM THE GOD OF MY WORLDS! Still, I realize that it can’t be true that I’m in such control (depending on if you think of the unconscious as still being the “I”).

Zzzzzzz …. Anyway, it’s food for thought. I wonder where the appropriate acceptance is of the unconscious working its way into writing. Is it controllable? Should it be encouraged? What’s to be done? Thoughts, oh reader(s)?

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Trying My Hand at Nonfiction

Recently, I have been trying to write and read some creative nonfiction. Honestly, I’ve not even been sure what creative nonfiction was for a long time or how to define it. I’ve been grappling with that of late.

Nonfiction, you say? Well, recently, I wrote a piece called, “My Life as a Buffalo Bills Fan.” In it, I wrestle with the ideas of hope and disappointment in my life, and I try to connect it all through my ridiculous loyalty to the lovable losers, the Buffalo Bills.

Nonfiction is a curious animal. I guess I don’t much believe in it. In a way, I don’t much believe in fiction either. For me, I only ever write what I know or I’ve experienced, not that my fiction is autobiographical, but I try to tap into a real, honest emotional experience. But with nonfiction, so much of it seems to be about an account of something. And I don’t really trust people’s memories that much. Is it good enough to say that the author tried his best to tell the truth? I mean, personally, the person I lie to the most is named Adam Nannini.

So … you’re not writing nonfiction? Well, I am. I’m trying. It’s a fun process. I find myself writing about such heavy themes in fiction that it’s kind of nice to just write about some things I love. I find it invigorating. And I suppose I’m trying to stick to the form of nonfiction, which to me, seems to be a collection of anecdotes or a singular event that is talking about a central thread. Fiction can do this as well. The line between them often seems blurred.

I feel like in nonfiction, I have to be more accountable to the reader, like I need to spell the change or the lesson or whatnot out more than I do in fiction. Maybe this is inaccurate. I enjoy the essay (when it’s done well {and that’s rare to me}), and it’s been a lot of fun to just share personal loves and experiences in the nonfiction form.

What are you reading? Well, recently, I started reading a book by David Sedaris, and I bought another book by Michael Chabon (I’m not 100% sure if this is nonfiction yet), but the thing I think I’ve liked the most is reading pieces on the online lit journal Brevity. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s allowed me to begin to think about this different form.

I suppose one of the issues I have defining nonfiction is the name. I mean, it’s defined by what it is not. Someone said to me when I asked them if a certain piece was truly nonfiction (it was a story about a man imagining that there were ghosts in his house), and the person responded, “Yes. I didn’t feel deceived by the author. I didn’t feel lied to.” I don’t think fiction seeks to lie or deceive at all. I think the main goal is to find some emotional truth, to capture the feeling of a character, something real. I know I don’t try to deceive readers by my fiction. I’m not even quite sure what that means.

Wind it up, bub. OK, Logan. Point is, it’s been a very interesting little diversion for me. I have not really read much nonfiction (unless you count Orwell), and I certainly have not written it. I’m curious what my readers’ experience has been with this genre and if they feel the distinction of fiction vs. nonfiction really matters. I guess, to me, it’s about if I’m moved by it. I don’t really care if it was real unless it is claiming to be a historical document or some such. But that’s me.

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