Recently, we had a mini-unit with artist-in-residence Momo Wang. Our unit with her was focused on experimental fiction, which is prose that transgresses the usual rules of fictional writing. These transgressions could be anything ranging from grammatical errors or a lack of dialogue to extraordinarily long sentences or an entire piece written without the letter “e.”
We read experimental pieces, including excerpts from The Waves by Virginia Woolf, Brasília by Clarice Lispector, and many others, and wrote our own pieces that broke the rules that we have become used to following in our time in Creative Writing. And yet several of us realized, in writing for Momo’s unit, that we have already written experimental fiction. Some of us write pieces with an excessive use of parentheses, some with run-on sentences that take up entire paragraphs, some using other transgressive elements, but we didn’t realize our work was experimental fiction, when, in fact, it was. I definitely write experimentally, most often when I write works with high emotion in them or which are about my own experiences.
Recently, I’ve taken to writing every night before I go to bed, and it is always a stream of consciousness (a style we discussed with Momo), and often contains oddly structured sentences. Even though I knew that the writing that I do at night in this way was not in the same style as my normal fiction, I didn’t have a name for what it was. But now those of us who didn’t recognize the genre of our work for what it was will know what we are doing when we write in ways that transgress the boundaries of writing, and we can use that knowledge to continue to expand our writing and learn to expand our writing into something more.
Lena Hartsough, class of 2019