Next semester, I have decided to branch out. Well not really, my main motivation behind that decision is because I almost, basically have to. With the rule that you cannot take three of the same genre workshops in a row, without a directed study or whatever the fine print is… I found myself struggling in filling out my application. All I have ever written is poetry. However, my poetry is all Creative Non-Fiction.
With this in mind, I set out to apply to the CNF track (fiction was an absolute lost cause…). I emailed Lytton in a panic, per usual, and he assured me in my choice of this endeavor. My poetry literally is CNF… I just had to omit the line breaks, add more of a theme, and string together some sentences… easy enough, right?
I sat down, with a blank word document, thinking about what to write about. I had a few things in mind, and of course my train of thought always conducts itself onto my family… which is fine because my family, specifically my dad, is my muse anyway. So I wrote about a very specific incident in my family’s life, and I just kept writing and writing, until after ten pages, it was ‘done’.
I was proud of myself for doing this, and it was so satisfying to complete this application. The writing however, was not just the ‘string together a couple of sentences’ mantra that I originally thought. Obviously, it was much more than that. Trying to recall the specific details, and thinking of ways to phrase the syntax of my sentences was an interesting feat. Usually in poetry, if I’m stuck, I just make my diction more concise by taking out small words — those of which that don’t matter in poetry such as ‘of, it, my, the’ … but in CNF — you can’t really do that. So, the ‘cut your darlings’ technique — my go-to — was not as reliable this time around for the sake of literal grammar, which doesn’t apply in my usual genre. My style of writing was also more scenic, rather than abstract and imagined — as it should be. So, again, it was a different experience overall, but I do indeed feel accomplished.
I asked for feedback on my piece, from a trusted friend, and after taking their critiques into consideration, I was ready to submit my application. I even wrote a small note on my cover sheet, saying “I already took poetry twice, time for a new genre” with a smiley face. I was nervous I wouldn’t get in, so I felt this need to debrief and defend myself in a weird way. But no worries, a few days later, I found out that I indeed made it into the track!
Now that I am admitted into a CNF workshop I have NO IDEA what to expect. But, I sure am excited.