April 28, 2K15
The ending portion of a Reflective Essay written for a creative non-fiction course.
Readers aren’t interested in the colors in my yard until they’re told the tulips nestled around my mailbox have a hint of vanilla about them. Details are dull until the sound of a lawnmower is present. In my story, I physically sat on the stairs leading up to our front door and explained the texture, the coolness of the ground beneath my fingertips. Employing individual emotion with human senses constructs a much more intimate connection with your readers. The rigid, concrete ground doesn’t seem significant enough until it was the one thing holding me together while everything inside of me was falling apart.
We owe it to our memories to hold them closely. We owe it to our readers to uphold the duty of writing our moments in such a way that evokes something deeper for them. As much our work is ours alone, we must be in constant awareness of how instrumental our stories are for others as well.
Throughout this course, I’ve been fumbling around with memory and identity and who we are through our words, our written accounts. Freedom of expression is synonymous with freedom of identity, and as I strengthen my competence in storytelling, in narrating and conveying, I’m beginning to see a difference in how I see myself fit into the world around me. Our memories, I’m learning, seem to distort themselves over time. A similar story may be told differently from one person to the next. The story of my senior year of high school may be told differently now that I’m so far disconnected from it. Do these differences make the events less true, less legitimate, invalid? I’m not sure. For me, every story has a bias. Inevitability, we must take all stories, even the ones based on facts and truth, with a grain of salt. The truth we are trying to pull is not typically the details of the weather or the color of the wallpaper. Although those are surely significant, they’re not our focus.
Ultimately, whether we are writing fiction or non-fiction, the take away is the theme, the central idea. No matter the time passed or the fading of specifics, the lesson learned is never forgotten. Luckily, we are imprinted with our stories plainly because they have taught us one thing or another. Our reader, may leave our words with an idea far from what we have learned, and for that I’m grateful. I’m attracted to the art of writing for this and this alone. I get to decide. Whether I’m the writer or the reader, it’s my heart and mind that has the final word. Our experiences are our own, our choice to share and relate and discover is ours alone. What we extract from the words before us shape us just as exclusively as the words we write ourselves.
When the opportunity to write presents itself, it’s our duty to expand our horizons in accordance to genre, inside and outside of creative non-fiction. If there’s anything I’ve taken from this course, it’s the thoughtful consideration of the worth behind our separate stories, the creative mess that retracts us from one another, but the art form that typically pulls us together. While you read, and while you write, explore words in ways that stir you to become a better person, imprint themes that move you to long-lasting lessons. When the wind blows, go with it.