AS OF writing this blog post, Creative Writing Two is in the third week of our creative non-fiction unit. Ploi Pirapokin has returned for her second year as an artist-in-residence to lead us through what it means to write non-fiction, as many of the CW-2ers are out of their depth.
LIKE MOST people, I was raised on fiction. My mother was a massive supporter of children’s books, and classics like Goodnight Moon and Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type were nightly adieus to dreamland for my sister and I. In second grade, my sister brought in the family collection of Berenstain Bears for her 100 days 100 objects project. From there, we moved to early readers like Geronimo Stilton and Animorphs, and finally to the gatekeeper of children’s literature, Harry Potter. With such a strong (yet typical) fiction reading base, the path to writing, and then to SOTA, is one that many in the department surely share. Due to these similarities, this is why I believe that the move to a creative non-fiction mindset has been such a trial.
MY FIRST encounter with creative non-fiction, and yours as well, is with advertising. Day one, your first step out of the hospital, you’re suddenly berated upon by shop lights and big colorful billboards and even names of stores, asking you, baby, to spit up your hard-earned capital to stimulate the economy–a stark contrast to the conservationist lifestyle you were living before in the womb. The second run-in with creative non-fiction I had was with local news. My mother’s a devotee to the regional local news wherever we go. Over the winter at my grandparent’s condo in Florida, my mother was ecstatic that she could reach both the Tampa local news as well as New York One, despite the fact that we were hundreds of miles from New York City. Naturally progressing forward, there were SSAT essays, and a news unit in eighth grade, and finally there was House Meal.
AN OP-ED written by n in the winter of 2017, I did have to read the piece a couple of times before I really fell in love, but once I did, I fell hard. Tamar Adler’s Everyone Should Have A House Meal describes the most baseline part of a relationship: food. This is not the Valentine’s Day gaudy supper, but every single other night. The house meal “is a meal that one automatically falls back on whenever there is no other plan.” This concept resonated so vigorously within me, as relatable, poignant, and introspective, that I had to find more like it! Books of essays began creeping their way into my to-read pile, and I began to pay more attention to the local news every morning. I began to read the news on my phone, or at least take it past just glancing at headlines, and what I found shocked me!
What constitutes as creative is broader than I could have ever imagined, and I love it! To describe mundae events as intriguing is as much as of an art as to create them out of thin air! We’ve only just begun, but I know I’m going to love Ploi’s creative non-fiction unit!
Max Chu, class of 2020