Whenever I think about blogging, it feels as if time has gone by quickly. "Gosh, has it been almost a month since I wrote that last blog entry? Seems like just yesterday? Where does the time go?" This is a rare feeling. In general, this summer vacation feels like it is dragging on at a snail's pace. Gone are the days when summer was the most joyous time of the year and I long awaited a break from school. I really enjoy my time at Susquehanna University, surrounded by lots of people, some of them friends. My girlfriend lives in Pennsylvania, so for the time being I'm in a long distance relationship. Here in New York, I spend most of my days at home, where lethargy just comes so easily. While both my parents are at work, I sleep in late, rarely rolling out of bed before noon. Sometimes I might run an errand or go out for lunch, but I spend most of my time watching television or, at my best, reading. The more boring the days are, the longer they feel. Only when I look at my blog do I think, "Boy, time flies." I look back on the last month of laziness, and I wonder if my choices might be even more troubling than they appear. They might even be a detriment to my academics.
Last semsester at Susquehanna, all first-year creative writing majors were required to take a course called Introduction to Creative Nonfiction. I was pleased with this obligation, because I had been looking forward to taking the course anyway. After my mixed feelings and bad vibes from Introduction to Fiction, discussed in my last post, I hoped that I might hit my stride and carve a niche in the genre of creative nonfiction. Months ago, at a Christmas family get-together, I expressed these hopes, which were met with a line of questioning. "What exactly is creative nonfiction?" my uncle asked, somehow emphasizing every syllable of every word. I understand the confusion. Some people are perplexed when they hear the word creative precede the word nonfiction. To some it seems like an oxymoron. When I talk to those people, I usually find that I cannot make them understand it. The simplest way I know how to put it is this: creative nonfiction is the work that David Sedaris does. And really, isn't that what I want to do with my life? In the words of Michael Ian Black in his book My Custom Van, "David Sedaris is living the kind of sophisticated, glittering life I always envisioned for myself, minus the homosexuality." So of course I welcomed the opportunity to be trained in creative nonfiction.
As a student in Introduction to Creative Nonfiction, I found the sort of inspiration and satisfaction that I often lacked in Introduction to Fiction. I found writing stories to be tiresome and tedious, while writing essays was more fun and fulfilling. (Have I mentioned I like alliteration?) At the end of the course I produced a longer portfolio than my first, and I felt a greater sense of pride. In those few months, I produced three essays: memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism. I was so pleased by the experience that, when it came time to register for next semester's courses, I signed up to take Intermediate Creative Nonfiction. This ought to be a happy decision, but now it has started to worry me. I don't lead the life of David Sedaris. I haven't visited the home of Anne Frank, I've never worked as an elf at Macy's, and I don't even have that many entertaining stories about my childhood. During most days in the past month, I've had a rather boring existence in which I've been quite bored. The question then becomes: Have I really lived enough to write any more memoirs? Do I really have it in me to produce any thoughtful, emotionally driven essays with the material I have? I've already written one memoir and one personal essay with roots in my childhood, and I don't know how much subject matter is left.
That's what I like about literary journalism. Rather than reaching back into your memory for long past events, you actually experience something just for the sake of writing about it. The possibilities are endless, so the material can never run out. Also, the recency of the events reduce the distorting effects of memory. Unfortunately, this intermediate course is going to focus on memoir, or so I've been told. I guess I'll just have to take a closer look at my life, really put myself under the microscope and discover what's worth talking about. Actually it's not fair to say that the past month has been entirely boring. For example, during Memorial Day weekend I attended Balticon. And just yesterday I had a job interview that ended in a job offer. I could tell you about all that, but then I'd be wasting all my good material in a single entry. I can't have that. I promise I'll write to you again whenever I feel like it. Finally a promise I can keep!