What is the Art of Narratives?

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Where were you born? Why is it important? Did it have a cute front porch, or roaches crawling over beds?

I have a confession.

I never thought I’d write or edit nonfiction. What was/ is special about my life? When I worked as a journalist, I enjoyed writing features about people. Their lives fascinated me. It was easy to write about them, and it’s easy to write about my primary client’s life.

What is the art of the narrative whether it’s literary, analytical, or a memoir?

Courtesy of http://foxpointcapeverdeanproject.com.

Two projects encouraged me throughout 2011 when I submitted the narrative Grass from the Grave/ We Never Said Hello. PaniK sought to tell the struggles of pre-parenthood whether it was abortion, miscarriage, stillborn, or the decision to keep a baby. It digs into the most intimate parts of a mother or father’s being, and there are well-written stories that put mine to shame.

Impact by Telling Our Stories Press shows great talent also. I am humbled by the other authors in the anthology and honored by publisher CoCo Harris’ faith in my abilities as a writer. A single short memoir made the difference in my life as a writer. It helped mold me as an author.

I am now taking a second look at life. A writer friend, who is also working on an excellent nonfiction project, is a fellow photographer mom who knows the rises and falls of parenthood. She reminded me when I pushed my client harder for a deadline to complete a current project, “It is hard for writers to sit and write intimate parts of our lives. Imagine what it’s like for others.”

What lingers of the community news journalist sets deadlines. I don’t always meet them, but I need deadlines the way writers need quiet time to just write. In a summer filled with more editing than writing, I forget the art of just writing. And, I figure why not experiment a little more in the narrative field?

In addition to two books and occasionally brushing up short stories, I am writing what I call Cooking Sketches. They are short memoirs tying a significant story in my life in with food. You might see some of this in what will be an ongoing column post: The Write to Cook.

I admire Anthony Bourdain. I am in love with his writing. The man knows food, but he also understands how to write. What if I could combine the cooking and food I know with stories absolutely unforgettable? I know how to make real Vidalia fried onion rings, and a love story and airplanes go with it.

If you chose something significant in your life to write about it, what would it be?


11 thoughts on “What is the Art of Narratives?

    1. How long have you worked on your novel? What food inspires you most? I think it is great for food to become a theme at any point in a book because there is so much you can say with it. You’re right. It does bring people together.

  1. I have written technical writings through work in the past few years, but it took me a while to get back into writing fiction or non technical (which is a very logical approach in many ways). The blog gave me some of the commitment and itch.

    Personally I don’t write about personal experience, although I do take some things I have learnt, and some experiences, and use the essence of that. I suppose that is the essence of fiction writing in many ways because you are either writing something about yourself, or writing almost opposite to it which has the effect of balancing off against personal experience.

    1. Some life experience has to come out somewhere for a writer. A biographer said Tolkien had a great love of Norse mythology, language, and horses. It all played out in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

      Did you do technical writing for a company?

      I never set out to write nonfiction other than the scholar work I did as a history student. I just fell into it when I began writing my client’s story. I guess it came natural after writing so many features about other people for two years in journalism. Then I wrote a snipet of my life.

      1. I was involved in the software development from the business side, laying out what functions it should have, all the calculations, how it interacts with other systems and so on. I was decent at writing up in other areas for the business, so I wrote the user manuals for several pieces of software for the business. I sort of fell into it rather than searched it. But I have a mind for picking up all the details, where everything leads and interacts, but making it user friendly, so it wasn’t even that taxing.

        I wrote some fiction when I was younger. Designing a story now is much more hard work with all the layers!

    1. Thank you! You know I hyperlinked your blog in this one, and I promise I will reply to your email tomorrow. We’ve just not become settled in our new place. Thanks so much for the support and comment!!!

      1. Thanks Rebecca. I am running out of steam here. I did get your email. Thanks. My little one flooded the bathroom today. I should never turn my back on a toddler! Just like the ocean, you will get wiped out. Then while I was cleaning it up, he swirled into the room with a dog biscuit between his teeth, ready to eat it. It was pretty funny in the rewind, but not in the moment. The toddler moments happen so fast, don’t they! Are you planning on going to the SCWW in October? Congrats on your new place. We should talk soon.

      2. I don’t know if I’m going to SCWW. It would be nice. I hope the e-mail helped some, and I hope everything works out for you. You have two great concepts for your work. We do need to talk soon. 🙂

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