I started reading books pretty early, and the genre I got really fond of was non-fiction. The first reason was because they were the ones that were majorly available. We had shelves with tons of motivational and inspirational books that went on forever in my house. The other was because, I never really seemed to finish fiction books or novels. There was no point; they weren’t real. So, while my mates were regurgitating Mills and Boon’s, I was digging into John Maxwell and Brian Tracy’s’.
For me, the reason was simple – if it didn’t happen, then it wasn’t real. There was really no point reading stuff that some raconteur author with mad writing skills came up with while sipping tea on his bed. I could literally smell the twisted plots and carefully orchestrated drama drops from the title. It just didn’t seem worth the hours I was going to put into it. Besides, I already hated the shallow literature books I was made to read while in early school (No offense to the literature wizards). However, over the past one year, I have opened myself up to a few genres that I was not originally into.
I read and reviewed my friend’s fiction novel, which was the first in a long time; then I incorporated a few memoirs and part-fiction books to my reading lists. Honestly, I was starting to get tired of books that spoke about making money, the law of attraction and all sorts. But I still couldn’t stand the sort of books that were all fiction and no reality. Somehow, I noticed that I started falling in love with memoirs, and Ben Mezrich’s kind of books (real life stories written like fiction). This is where my dilemma set in.
While I appreciate the reality in non-fiction books, I am deeply in love with the creativity in the language and tone of fiction books. That is why the memoirs worked for me. So, it wasn’t that I didn’t like fiction books, but I just wanted to have more real than fake things. Reality is, after all, stranger than fiction. Then the term ‘Creative nonfiction’ strolled by my mind and never passed. Why can’t we have books that show the creativity in writing, but capture vivid realities without being captured under the slightly (maybe overly) boring umbrella of non-fiction? It was not until I started writing this piece that I realised that creative nonfiction was actually a thing.
It’s a good thing too! When we say non-fiction, the first picture that crosses the mind are monotonous books that talk about finance, or success, or how-to’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love my nonfiction; but there are moments where you want to get immersed in the pool of creativity and wordplay.
Without. Being. Sucked. Into. The. Loop. Of. Fake Stories.
However, for some reason, books are still grouped as either fiction or nonfiction. At least, I haven’t seen an African originated book that carried the genre “creative nonfiction”. Biographies that were written like novels should fall within the category. Nonfiction books, that want to carry the vibe of art, dramatic sophistication, or whatever, would fall into it as well. Real life stories that cannot be classified as biographies or short stories, would also be there. I mean, there’s really no genre for it! If I wanted to write a book of 10 random people with similar issues, I’ll have to call it a biography, memoir, or a novel based on real life adaptations. Sucks!
One thing’s for sure, on my first book, I’m going to inscribe creative nonfiction on the front page, and see who tries to call it otherwise.