The Truest Stories
In a wonderful interview with the “father of creative nonfiction” recently released on Soundcloud, Lee Gutkind talks about the division between the genres. The interviewer asked Gutkind if he starts out knowing whether he’s writing fiction or nonfiction. Gutkind’s answer is that he writes to tell stories, the truest stories he can. Depending on the situation, a true story might be best told in a novel or, in another, in an essay.
As I work on both final edits for my forthcoming memoir and rewrites for a novel (details coming soon), I have been switching back and forth between creative nonfiction and fiction. The two projects have similar themes of family and identity and belonging. Listening to Gutkind, I realized that I’m writing true stories in both cases. For the memoir, everything is true as I remember it. For the novel, everything is true as I understand the world to be. For one there are fictional characters, for the other there are previously existing characters. Either way, they’re true stories.