I wonder if anyone else is finding that the tumult of our current political times is messing with their creativity.

With the political shenanigans going on south of the border, it’s almost like, ‘How can I ever write a story that can compete with that!?’ Honestly, who’d have thought! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

So you know what I finally decided to do?

I finally decided to write some ‘truth’ in the form of biography and memoir.

Many years ago I met an Indian author at the Bookaroo festival in India who’d written some fictionalized pieces on some very real encounters he had with this ‘primitive’ tribe in India. It’s hard to believe that any part of the country would be unexplored or inhabited with people who had minimal exposure to modern society, but sure enough there was just such a tribe.

Oh this guy could tell amazing stories! He held huge audiences of young people captive with his anecdotes.

I was wondering why he wasn’t an international phenomenon! The stuff he was talking about was fascinating and could easily have appealed to universal audiences.

When I sat down to ask him his strategy I found out that what he’d done was write fictional stories of a group of young people encountering these people.


In such a situation?

No, no, I told him. You need to make it non-fiction! I could just imagine how fascinating such a book would be! As fascinating as the talks he gave!

There is a time for non-fiction!

It would require a slightly different approach but it was very doable.

He just smiled sadly at me and said no, he wanted to write fiction. And of course that was his prerogative but he was definitely limiting his audience. He might right okay fiction, but in my opinion he would have written spectacular non-fiction!

Non-fiction has come a long way from textbookish narratives! These days it’s can be just as poetic and creative as any fiction out there! And you can get away with outlandish plots, if they really did happen! In fact that’s precisely when you should write non-fiction.

And yet biography and memoir can have a certain ‘stigma’. Years ago I read a biography of Jean Little, one of the most widely acclaimed Canadian children’s authors. It was called Little By Little. When I met her at a meeting I gushed, “This might sound like a back-handed compliment but I actually thought your memoir was better than some of your novels.” And she said, “Yes, that is a back-handed compliment.”

Thing is Jean Little has always had poor eyesight. She’s legally blind and has a guide dog. Her biography was fascinating.

For years kids would ask me after a session, whether I was ever going to write my story. And like that Indian gentleman, I cringed at the thought.

But finally, finally I’ve embraced it.

You have to mine where the story is sweetest!

Maybe we underestimate our own personal stories.

At the graphic novel workshop I attended in the summer the editor said that children love memoir. And you don’t have to have lived a swashbuckling type of life either. Kids like to know that you’ve been through your own personal hell and survived.

It’s one of the reason Smile by Raina Telgemeier is such a bestseller. It’s the story of her losing her two front teeth but it’s told well. She mined what was personal to her.

Image result for smile by raina telgemeier

So next time you’re looking for something to write about, maybe try looking closer to home.

P.s. Sorry for the blog delay, it was beyond my control.

Had to update the computer stuff and lost the log in, but…I’m back!