I must admit, I’m picky about the books I read. I didn’t used to be this way, but these days I just don’t have the time to pick up and spend hours reading and developing a relationship with just any old book. Something needs to really grab my attention. There is always something else to do around the house; so if I choose to spend my time with my nose stuck in a book, it better be a good book!
I am not picky, however, when it comes to the genre I choose to let my eyes feast upon. Fiction, non fiction, fantasy, mystery, biography. I’ll devour it all. I am currently reading three different books, all in different categories. Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz, is a fascinating look at how dogs see and experience the world around us from a scientific point of view. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver, is the emotional tale of three different people living in the mountains of Virginia; close to one another in proximity but leading completely different lives. And The Chronicles of Narnia (yes, all seven of them), by C.S. Lewis, which I won’t briefly describe for you because if you don’t know what it’s about, then…SHAME ON YOU! My point is that there’s a lot of variation on my reading list.
But what about when it comes to writing? Fiction vs. non fiction. They are, without a doubt, two very different monsters to conquer. In my opinion (and please don’t hate me for saying this) Fiction is a much harder battle to win than non fiction. I’m not saying that non fiction is easy, not by any means, but that it is for the most part, remembering. The event(s) that you are putting onto paper have actually happened. It does not require you to create events, dialogue, and scenes. The crux of non fiction is, of course, relaying what has already happened in a way that brings the story to life for those who didn’t witness it. To make an outsider feel like an insider. With fiction you are giving life to entirely new experiences, ones created in your mind. You are attempting to be able to make others feel like they have experienced what you imagined. Because isn’t that the point of reading? To be transported to another world or life other than your own (regardless of Fiction or Non)?
I’ve dabbled, or really am currently dabbling, in both. I am primarily a non fiction writer. It is my comfort zone. And Lord knows I’m not short on material. The retelling of life experiences and how I’ve handled them, well and poorly, is my bread and butter. The world of non fiction has always appealed to me from a personal stand point. The way in which to tell a story so that it appeals to those other than the subjects can be tricky. It requires you to step outside yourself, become an observer of your own life. It can also be quite the emotional upheaval, reliving moments that weren’t necessarily the easiest to go through.
Fiction scares me. I’m an incredibly creative person but the thought of starting completely from scratch is terrifying. Putting words on paper with no memories or opinions to fall back on is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. I love fantasy fiction, especially series books like Harry Potter and Narnia, and I’ve always found the detail that goes into works like these fascinating. Completely imagined worlds born from the mind of the author.
The other day I had an idea. While playing with Little Bear, who is newly fascinated by stuffed animals, the basic concept of a children’s fantasy novel came to me. I can’t just ignore brilliant ideas. So I’ve been trying my hand at fiction. And now I find myself in the midst of writing TWO novels! They are on opposite ends of the literary spectrum so it’s not difficult to move between the two, but my problem is finding the time for both.
Am I completely crazy? I’m tempted to put my non fiction on the shelf for a while, because those memories are burned into mind, I won’t forget them, they’ll always be there waiting to be told. Or do I dive full force into both books? I’m afraid to “shelve” the fiction for fear that I’ll lose my ideas.
What do y’all think? Have you ever written two books at once? And what do you prefer to write, fiction or non fiction?