A number of ALLi advisors and members, including Joanna Penn, Alison Baverstock, and Jane Dixon-Smith are making their way to Manchester in August, to take part in The Guardian Masterclass in Self-publishing (August 4th).
I'm going to be talking about Writing Creative Fiction and Nonfiction.
The title of that workshop always leads somebody to ask first, what is creative nonfiction? (Because they think only fiction or poetry fall under the heading of creative writing). And then to the question of what creative writing itself actually is.
For me, it's partly a question of craft. Creative nonfiction uses some of the techniques and devices that we traditionally associate with fiction: dialogue, scenes, description of character and place.
It's also a question of language, an alertness to words, to sentence structure and rhythm.
But mainly it's something indefinable. In his great essay on creative arts, the Spanish poet, Frederico Garcia Lorca, spoke of “dark water”, water that gathers its darkness from the fact that it is deep, and “black sound”, the fathomless empty, openness that resonates with “the mystery, the roots… the fertile silt that gives us the very substance of art”.
Lorca's word for this was duende, a Spanish word roughly translates as “soul”. Duende is the heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity that accompanies the creative experience, the “mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains”.
This is the power of the creative, impossible to adequately define, unmistakeable when its experienced.
I'm thinking a lot about this topic as I blog my forthcoming book, Go Creative! It's Your Native State, where I'm sharing lots of thoughts about creativity and the creative process over the coming weeks.
But what do you think? What's your definition of creative writing? Can it be defined? Can it be taught? Is it a question of form (fiction vs nonfiction) or genre or something more ineffable?
Share your thoughts in the comment box below.