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Thread: Does Being a Non-Fiction Author Put me in a Box?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Does Being a Non-Fiction Author Put me in a Box?

    Hello,

    I have been most comfortable writing non-fiction essays and memoir-style creative non-fiction. It feels most natural to me but it's also a style of writing that requires a lot of vulnerability. I find that starting with short stories offers a welcome respite from the heavy self-examination and exposure. But I wonder if stepping outside my writing box will water down my solidity as a non-fiction writer. Thoughts on this are welcome!

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tembers View Post
    Hello,

    I have been most comfortable writing non-fiction essays and memoir-style creative non-fiction. It feels most natural to me but it's also a style of writing that requires a lot of vulnerability. I find that starting with short stories offers a welcome respite from the heavy self-examination and exposure. But I wonder if stepping outside my writing box will water down my solidity as a non-fiction writer. Thoughts on this are welcome!
    When you say "water down," do you mean you're afraid your writerly reputation will be affected, since your audience associates you with non-fiction? Or are you concerned about your writing abilities themselves?

    If it's the former, a pen name is a simple solution. An author who writes both picture books and horror novels, for example, might choose to use two names to separate the brands. (Others don't bother. It's a purely personal choice).

    If it's the latter, I'd say branching out can only make you better. Think of it like cooking. Let's say you're already awesome at frying, and now you've decided to try your hand at baking. You'll not only add a whole new skillset to your repetoire, you'll actually discover areas where the knowledge gleaned from each technique will enhance your abilities in the other.
    Last edited by Tazlima; 01-02-2018 at 06:33 PM.
    "One of the hardest things to do, I think, is learn to trust your own creativity." - Ambrosia

  3. #3
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tembers View Post
    But I wonder if stepping outside my writing box will water down my solidity as a non-fiction writer.
    Of course. You won't be a "solid" non-fiction writer any more. Part of you will be melted down and molded into "fiction-writer" shape

    I don't really understand your question. Are you saying that fiction or short-story writing excludes "vulnerability" or "self-examination and exposure"?

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tazlima View Post
    When you say "water down," do you mean you're afraid your writerly reputation will be affected, since your audience associates you with non-fiction? Or are you concerned about your writing abilities themselves?

    If it's the latter, I'd say branching out can only make you better. Think of it like cooking. Let's say you're already awesome at frying, and now you've decided to try your hand at baking. You'll not only add a whole new skillset to your repetoire, you'll actually discover areas where the knowledge gleaned from each technique will enhance your abilities in the other.
    I mean my reputation or potential "brand". There's a very successful memoir author whose books I love but when I tried the same author's fiction, I didn't like it at all. Not sure if that's because of my view of this person as a strictly non-fiction author or not.

    Love this analogy. Thank you.

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post

    I don't really understand your question. Are you saying that fiction or short-story writing excludes "vulnerability" or "self-examination and exposure"?
    Yes, compared to the type of writing I do. Exposing something about my family life or personal struggles feels a lot more vulnerable and open to personal critique (as I've already experienced) than writing about a science fiction character.

  6. #6
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    You can certainly write both if you want. You could use your vulnerability to write about fictional vulnerable characters.

    But if you're concerned about reputation, then yes, a pen name might be the way to go.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  7. #7
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I don't see how learning to do more would lessen you. If you want separate brands you just need to use separate pen names.
    Emily Veinglory

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