I write for a living but technical writing is far different from creative writing. From time to time I have kept a journal, blogged, and dabbled in poetry but never focused on anything substantive. Many events this year have inspired me to express myself creatively and the results are rewarding. Throughout this process I have personally interviewed established academic writers and some prominent columnists. While my book is far from complete and I have so much more work to do, the lessons I have learned thus far are life changing. They include:
- Write with emotion but edit objectively, detached from the narrative’s inspiration;
- Write veraciously and don’t preempt expression because you fear other’s judgement;
- Write to learn about yourself, who you are and where you are going;
- Write constantly.
Writing a fictional piece inspired by actual events is quite different from scientific writing. It’s not just about evidence. This type of writing does necessitate that I examine “evidence” like texts, images, emails, etc. Because I experienced many of the events described in the book, I am not in a position to render objective conclusions and there is much I do not know. That’s
where the creative skills come in to play. Writing this narrative forces me to speculate about motives, events, and outcomes. It is almost like a thought experiment in which I create characters, set conditions, and orchestrate hypothetical endings. My goal is not to tell a story that recalls facts but rather to tell a story that inspires thought and introspection among those involved. For me this has been a constructive and cathartic way to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable.