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Finally, I’m with Annie Dillard when I say creative nonfiction writing is first about the formation of a text, the creation of piece of art, just like any painting or musical composition.Your life and the life of the world is your raw material, as much a part of the mix as is the paint, the chords, the words. Accounting for the fluid lines of tradition streaming into the creative nonfiction of today can be overwhelming, but also freeing.
But I was delighted to find that nonfiction prose can also carry meaning in its structures, can tolerate all sorts of figurative language, as well as alliteration and even rhyme.
It is writing about and from a world that includes the author’s life and/or the author’s eye on the lives of others.
Under the umbrella called Creative Nonfiction we might find a long list of sub-genres such as: memoir, personal essay, meditations on ideas, literary journalism, nature writing, city writing, travel writing, journals or letters, cultural commentary, hybrid forms, and even, sometimes, autobiographical fiction.
Sometimes the form can do all of the above at the same time. What links all these forms is that the “I,” the literary version of the author, is either explicitly or implicitly present—the author is in the work.
This is work that includes the particular sensibility of the author while it is also some sort of report from the world. Be the style straightforward like a newspaper feature, narrative like a novel, or metaphorical like a poem. I prefer the word actual because it refers to simple actuality.