Lessons in Nonfiction

I am currently taking a class called Nonfiction Fundamentals. I’m getting my masters in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction, and had to take one more “fundamentals” class. Nonfiction sounded a lot easier than my other two options: poetry and screenwriting.

It has turned out to be a lot more interesting than I had expected. I’m honestly enjoying writing nonfiction pieces (you can check out the memoir essay I wrote for this class here). But in exploring nonfiction, I’ve learned two important things about myself. First, I really like making shit up. There is a reason I decided to specialize in fiction. And second, my life is ridiculously boring.

I have written a total of five essays so far in this class. And each time, I have spent hours staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to write about. What has happened to me that will make a good humorous essay? (A difficult question after reading Burroughs, Sedaris, Fey, and Poehler.) I have literally spent more time trying to figure out what to write than actually writing. Which does not bode well for my possible future writing career.

My life has not been completely unremarkable. There was just enough material to scrape up four decent essays (and a few examples for the literary journalism one I had to write). But it really hit me that I’ve just kind of coasted through most of my life. Until recently, i never took risks, and most of my hardships were all in my head (I was a paranoid and unhappy child).

Which brings me to the conclusion that my life is boring. The most exciting thing I have ever done is move to Boston for two years of college. But don’t worry, I spent my spring break ordering in sushi and playing the Sims alone in my apartment. Just in case you thought I might actually be a little bit cool. I have an active imagination that never crosses paths with reality. I’ve decided it’s for a change. To quote one of my favorite historical figures, Benjamin Franklin:

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

This year, I’m aiming for both.

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