Sunday, 27 March 2011

Creative Non-Fiction – Second Slurpings

I thought I’d add to the insightful and delicious posts written on this topic (a staggering sumtotal of one) with a brand new sense-check-point. (A point to sense-check).

TANGENT: This blog used to be a place where I poured opinions and thoughts into the vacant punchbowl of my unconscious. Most of the time I spend reading novels and writing fiction and engage in no conversations about actual occurrences taking place in the actual world. The vacuum I have chosen to inhabit is one built on a foundation of misanthropic distance, a poor vantage point at the outpost of human suffering.

I am planning to write a creative non-fiction book about gaming addiction. Our classes have primped us for the task: I now have clear ideas about structure, tone and narrative position (exclusive terms for MA students! terms I would not have used over a year ago!) and look forward to sinking my teeth into this unfathomable undertaking.

TANGENT: The phrase ‘non-fiction’ still sends me lunging under the desk in terror. When I was a wayward undergrad and looked to the future I saw two paths: decadence and penury as a writer, or teaching snotball kiddies in Caldercruix High School. I chose the former. I have no authority to impart. I am not a voice of authority: I take notes, I listen to the wisdom of others. Facts and their arrangement is not my trade.

Right now I’m working on a detailed book proposal. (This is a lie. I spent the weekend reading McSweeney’s and the rather fabulous Dubravka Ugrešić. But let’s pretend). The proposal shouldn’t be an insult to the senses if I assume the reins of this bolting colt and take authorial control like a big grownup writer who knows what he wants.

I am concerned about research. I have a short attention span for facts and will have to process these truth-bombs in short shocks. To counter each truthfulness gleaned from the internet’s banks of bullshit I will need a shot of memoir action to keep me going. Which explains the memoir/investigation structure I’ve chosen for this purpose. Help to be found in the strategic arrangement of pages and their contents.

TANGENT: A train station opened in my hometown last month. When I went there, this ludicrous zigzag staircase unfurled along the line beside a car park barren of cars and a platform barren of life. Since I was a child there has only been one direction out of there, and the option to go RIGHT opened up such a wound of space I burst into tears.

The course has been discursive, with guests such as Kate Summerscale, David Miller, David Robinson and Edward Hollis who each contributed invaluable information on proposals, structuring and tickling the investigative spirit. Beneath this impenetrable cloak of despair I wear, this sardonic waistcoat I trail around like a string of porky entrails, I feel optimistic.

TANGENT: Optimistic being a synonym for delusional.


  1. Yes facts. Cannot keep facts in head. Facts are just there for me to distort in future conversations. What made you choose the gaming industry? It is a fascinating subject.

  2. You see the Guardian article about Tom Bissell?

    If you haven't, it's pretty interesting article about a writer who got sucked into the world of Grand Theft Auto.

  3. *giggles* sounds like your choice of fiction and mine have similar roots. Life has enough reality in it. We certainly shouldn't engage in any more of it than we have to...

  4. Deb: I was a gaming addict for many years. And today I spent about two hours diddling on online games. Better watch it.

    Jeff: Yes! I read that one recently. Quite an amazing story. I'd like to interview him, unless he's planning to write a book about it himself.

    Hart: Indeed. *nods wisely*

  5. I have no idea what you just said, but I approve.

    Regarding tangents: I approve even more. However, I don't own a piano.

  6. Hello. Help yourself to the best fifth commenter on my 27th March blog post award.

  7. I was hoping you'd award me a piano.

  8. You really want a piano, don't you? I'll give you an IKEA self-assembly piano: an elephant, a cat and a tree.