I’ve been trying to think of how do I describe the kind of writing I do.
I share a lot of excerpts other people’s writing here. But the writing that I love to do (and to read) (both to write and to read) is the long-form essay–which according to Wikipedia ranges from 1,000-10,000 words. My sweet spot seems to be 4,000 words, but I’ve written both longer and shorter essays. Examples include the two-part essay series, “What if It’s Already Too Late” and “Die Early & Die Often”, and the follow-up, “The Yoga of Despair”, which was really the inception of this site.
The content of these and other essays is something called “creative non-fiction”. I came across this term when I was wrestling with the question whether what I do is “art”. Not to downplay what other artists do, but I do think what I do is artistic, because it has a creative element.
I found a description in the Wikipedia article on “creative nonfiction”, which incorporates characteristics proposed by literary critic, Barbara Lounsberry, in her book, The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction (1990), and tweaked it a bit. Creative non-fiction includes these five elements:
- A subject matter taken from the real world, which is written about in a factually accurate way
- Exhaustive research and the inclusion of verifiable references in the text to establish credibility
- A narrative form and structure, i.e., subjective storytelling, in contrast an objective journalistic style of reporting
- A personal element, like self-revelation, individual experiences, and a confidential tone
- Written with attention to literary style and technique
So there you have it: My preferred medium is the long-form creative nonfiction essay.