As a writer, fiction is my first love. I remember clearly sitting at my father’s old, gargantuan computer monitor, watching as the black screen filled with those golden letters in one of the early versions of MS DOS. I was a puzzling child; I excelled at running around outside, climbing tress and slithering through marsh mud, climbing to the top of the elementary school’s fire escape, or sometimes plunging into the ocean. And yet I was equally as content sitting at the computer monitor, writing about adventures in faraway places I had completely imagined in my head. There were shipwrecks and haunted houses, complexes of underground caves and mysterious spells. But here’s the puzzling part: I didn’t particularly like to read. It was painfully boring to me, but I did it because some of my friends did (see, peer pressure can be positive!). I would much rather have been off having real adventures of my own, or dreaming exciting ones up in my head,than reading about other people’s adventures. Boooring.
Obviously, that changed. I think around the fourth or fifth grade I read a book about ancient Egypt, and I was intrigued. Then, of course, came Sweet Valley Twins and R. L. Stine. Maybe I had grown up enough to shed a level of juvenile selfishness, and was able to empathize with others. Or maybe I had just found the right words.
Now, as an adult, however, I feel myself drawn ever more to non-fiction. I love the power of prose when a person is writing about their own feelings, openly and bravely. Currently, I’m reading a treasure called Bend, Not Break by Ping Fu, and I am completely absorbed. There is so much to be gained from taking a moment to engage in someone else’s life. Even more so, much is to be gained from taking a moment to reflect on instances in your own life. And that is why the personal essay is my new love; it actually is easier for me than fiction. Does that mean I simply have a reflective mind? Or does it simply reveal the challenge it truly is to write a quality fictional novel? I think maybe a little bit of both. So, as tempting as it is to dwell on the skill that is both enjoyable and easy for me, I’ll press on with my fiction writing.
Because I haven’t forgotten my first love; no one ever can.
PS: If you do happen to write personal essay pieces and are looking for an outlet, check out this helpful link that I’ve found on Meghan Ward’s blog–20 places to publish essays. Happy Friday!