Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Story Searching in Nonfiction with Jocelyn Bartkevicius

Our next workshop faculty member is Jocelyn Bartkevicius, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Florida and a former editor of The Florida Review. She is also an accomplished creative nonfiction writer. When crafting personal essays, many writers struggle with the act of revealing personal information. We asked Jocelyn for her rule of thumb when it comes to this balancing act. She explains her approach below:

"For me, nonfiction is above all a process of discovery. And so when writing early drafts, I never hold back. At that point in my writing, I'm less focused on sharing (on readers), and more focused to figure out through writing what the story is. I believe there must be discovery while writing. That nonfiction--when it is taking the form of a personal essay or memoir--must do much more than simply report what has happened. I let the words take the lead as I search for story. No holds barred. Later, several drafts into a piece, if I think I've found the story and have crafted the sentences and found details, rhythm, and imagery as well, I'll start to think about both readers and any people I may have included in the piece of writing. At that point, I will consider whether identities need to be protected. In such cases, I'm more likely to use an initial or change a name than I am to omit details.

All this may sound as if I spill it all. But I'm not a particularly 'confessional' writer. I'm not interested in memoir as recovery or tell-all. I'm more likely to explore how the personal intersects with cultural moments. For example, I've written about guns and being first-generation Eastern European and growing up in a family that ran a Burlesque nightclub. I like to find the cultural and historic nuances of personal experience."

Bartkevicius' creative nonfiction workshop "Savage Desire: Discovering Story in Literary Nonfiction" will be held from 11:45-1:00 pm on Saturday, November 7th (location TBA). To secure your spot, check out FLAC registration for more information.

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