Monday, November 17, 2014

Creative Non-Fiction writer, Marion Winik comes to Frostburg

Creative Non-Fiction writer, Marion Winik will be reading at the Lyric Theatre on November 18th at 7:30pm. I caught up with Marion, a faculty member at the 2014 Nightsun Writers' Conference, and asked about her writing and the effect of Creative Non-Fiction in the classroom.

 As a memoir/Creative Non-Fiction writer, do you ever have any trouble blurring fact from fiction?  

Marion Winik:What are some strategies you use in instances like this? I think it is best to tip off the reader when you are not sure what happened, or when you know your account differs from what other people think by tell the reader exactly what is going on, right in the text. ("My sister and I disagree on what happened next, and our accounts are so different that I asked our aunt, who had another take entirely...", or "I wasn't at the house that afternoon, but I'm going to take a guess at what went on...") Also, many memoirs now begin with a note explaining that identities have been disguised, scenes composited, and the like. Others are fact-checked as carefully as David Carr's Night of the Gun. Funny thing -- I am right now writing a novel that addresses this very issue! Fiction ... about memoir ... that contains fiction. It's an endlessly fascinating topic because memory simply is not objective or infallible, even when the writer's intentions are the best.

In a small town like Frostburg or big city like Baltimore. why is it important to create a healthy writing community? 

Marion Winik: No matter where you are, you need friends. And for a writer, friends that enjoy talking about books, getting together to write, sharing work, going to readings, gossiping about other writers, are the funnest friends of all. When I lived in rural Pennsylvania, I had only one friend who was a writer (and only about three friends total.) There were no readings to go to, no way to form a writer's group, no bars to hang out in, for that matter. What there was, on the other hand, was a ton of time to write. So I did get a lot of work done. But when I moved to Baltimore after ten years in the country, and immediately wandered into the vibrant, welcoming, active community of writers there, my sense of relief was enormous.

 Could you comment on the importance of writing, specifically Creative Non-Fiction, in the classroom? Can it be a useful tool?

Marion Winik: Almost everyone, I've found, writes most fluently when writing about themselves and their experiences. Students who struggle with academic-type writing, using pretentious, awkward language and formal phrases, often become poets and comedians when they tell stories from their lives. CNF is a great place to find your voice on the page.

How do you go about capturing a specific "moment" in your writing? 

Marion Winik: I work as hard as I can to find the best words to describe my sense impressions and memories. I try to say things in a way that feels fresh so that the scene lifts out of the generic. I create immediacy by adding dialogue and action. If it's an emotionally complex moment, I search in my heart for the truth of I what I felt and perceived.

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