I Started Writing Fiction Again

I don’t know exactly when I stopped writing fiction.

Being in a class that forced me to write fiction was something that I definitely thought I did not want. If I were to do it all again, I would probably complain all the same. Am I just that intent on writing personal essays and journalistic pieces? Indeed. However, I am starting to find some joy in writing fiction again. I never stopped enjoying fiction, but my consumption of books has lessened as the years drag on due to the complexities of life – something I am not happy about, but vow (naively) to change as time goes on.

Fiction is something I’ve always been a fan of – after all, I was always a fan of fiction novels when I was a wee lass, often preferring them over nonfiction. Even today, I find that literature is a tool that can change the world. There are a few that have certainly changed me. I just love books, damn it!

AP Literature was one of my favorite classes in high school. All we did in that class was read – and of course, analyze – novels. In my first year of college, which ended a mere week ago, I took a class entitled, Contemporary Southern Literature. In this, we read a number of short stories, two novels, listened to episodes of “S-Town” – a podcast that is crafted beautifully but makes one question the ethics of Brian Reed’s reporting – and watched “Atlanta,” in which everyone can see Donald Glover’s genius.

Though I was not a fan of “As I Lay Dying” (I dare say that William Faulkner is indeed, not the best), I found myself starting to remember why I love novels and even enjoy writing fiction myself.

People are too busy nowadays; we don’t have the time to read an article, let alone a whole novel. I, too, get caught up in the “life” of it all. I complain that I don’t have enough time to read books. Though this is true to some extent, I think that it mostly stems from me simply not making enough time to read. I hope to change that this summer. This class reminded me why I should make more time to read fiction – and maybe write it, too.

Related: 12 Struggles Creative Writers Can Relate To

I love the truth. I am a fan of journalism in all its multimedia forms. But I need to escape sometimes. The news is so heavy, particularly in this political environment (speaking of literature and the current political environment, I wasn’t expecting to see “The Handmaid’s Tale” predict the future of the United States – if you don’t get the jab, please Google, “Alabama” or “Ohio” or “repression of those who have a uterus”). Fiction is a way in which I can get out of my head and into someone else’s for a while. Literature is the greatest stirrer of empathy and deep thought.

Literature doesn’t just come in the form of novels these days. My professor exposed us to the aforementioned media, like podcasts and television, to expose us to the ways in which storytelling manifests itself in the digital age.

Which brings me to my own struggle with writing fiction. Key term: struggle. I would not say I have talent when it comes to writing fiction; I found myself rolling my eyes when it came to writing just one paragraph from the point of view of my character. I was appalled. Me? Writing fiction? In this economy? Sure, I could read it. I could follow amazing authors on Twitter. But surely, I couldn’t write it. But then I did. It was for a grade, after all, so motivation found its way under my skin.  

What I was shocked to find was that people actually enjoyed my writing. When I had handed in my short story draft to be reviewed by my peers, I was not expecting them to give the praise they did. If anything, I figured they would mark it as too cynical, too emo or something of this nature. And yet, it turned out that they had enjoyed fiction, that I wrote. It seemed improbable to me, too.

I was always encouraged to read and to write by my family, particularly by my grandmas and my aunt Lisa. I mostly wrote essays such as this, but no matter what it was that spewed onto a page, I was encouraged. Hearing the same sort of encouragement from my peers gave me a push to finish my final draft (and again, the grade hanging over my head was the carrot at the end of this rabbit’s treadmill). Something that made writing the fiction – an action I dreaded from the get-go – fun. It was exhilarating to hear the ways in which my work made others feel.

My hometown – Chelsea, Michigan – is a proud promoter of literature. My town has a great library, a wonderful bookstore (Serendipity Books; tell me a more wonderful name for a bookstore, you can’t) and is home to the Midwest Literary Walk, an annual event that hosts authors to speak about their work. Let me tell you, everyone gets very excited seeing young people at those things. I think it gives them hope that young people aren’t necessarily always the worst. Chelsea has always been a place for me to grow as both a reader and a writer.

So, I don’t know exactly when I stopped writing fiction. Or why. It could have just been a change in taste or rooted in something deeper. Who’s to say? But I know that I may, just may, start writing it again. The pull of literature from my home, my professors and classmates and the authors I love are enough to make me want to begin a new, fiction story.

I do not intend to be the next great novelist. In order for that to happen, the world would have to be on fire (more so than it already is). But I realize that writing fiction is just another way in which to exercise a creative part of myself. It is a way for me to write – one of my favorite pastimes, one not typically shared by others – but in a way that isn’t so in my head. Well, it actually is very in my head. I get to write about what’s going on up there, rather than the things happening in the world around me. What a relief.