Most of the creative writing Scotties that I know on campus are lovers of Fiction. They flock to Dr. Dermont’s workshop courses, and all of them seem to be blessed with the ability to create characters, scenarios, dialogue and other important details, perhaps based on their own lives or real-life situations, but also from their own creative imaginations.  
        For me, the journey of writing
creatively has been quite different: my Fiction writing class in high school proved that this genre is one I should probably stay far away from. My very first short story was essentially a written copy of the 1993 film The Sandlot, following a young boy who moved to a new town and had to bond with new friends in the unfamiliar territory of baseball. No one caught on to my imitation, but I remember a sense of deep let down that I had been so unsuccessful at creating a world and at least somewhat original characters. At this moment, I turned to nonfiction. A year later, my English teacher assigned the task of writing: “The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less,” the title of an essay originally written by Nora Ephron. I spent days, followed by weeks, writing, tweaking, changing wording, and bringing my life to life on the page. The assignment was exhilarating to me, because I was finally able to tell the story of someone I actually knew: Myself. Looking back on it, “The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less” probably isn’t the best thing I’ve ever written, but it put me on a path to learning to invent the story of myself in many different ways, in different voices and different styles. 

My roommate told me that she shares a similar reluctance to delve into creative writing, because she doubts her ability to create believable characters and interesting realities and plots. So I asked her: Who is the character that you know the best? I believe that this is the true beauty of nonfiction, particularly the personal essay. Although the foundation stays the same the whole time you write it, the perspective and approach can evolve to fit the situation.

              For others who may be down on creative writing, I encourage you to explore and experiment with different genres, including creative nonfiction, especially if you haven’t tried it. Agnes Scott offers an Introductory Nonfiction Workshop class in the Spring that allows students to experiment with several different types of nonfiction writing, including journalism, memoir, and personal essay. The key that I have found so far as being successful for the creation of a good piece of nonfiction is in the details. But the best thing of all is that you don’t have to invent them—you just have to write them down!

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