So, a few days ago, India and I are driving in the car together and she says to me, "Momma, what's non-fiction?"
Well, of course my heart is all a flutter, and I tell her that non-fiction is not a story - that it's true, and that fiction is a story. Then we had a little discussion about telling stories and truth and why sometimes in writing it works best to make stories up, and sometimes it's good to tell stories about things that actually happened. It was real good. I was so in love with her.
*I was in Banff a couple of months ago for a conference with the Canadian Creative Non-Fiction Collective, and just like whenever creative non-fiction people get together, there was a lot of debate about how to define creative non-fiction, how much you are allowed to decorate a story before it becomes fiction, and all sorts of other things that get me all excited and give me goosebumps to think about. One presenter had just published a non-fiction novel - this sort of new genre that's thrown everyone into a tizzy since Capote kicked it off in 1965 - so we all had a good chat about that and how non-fiction could be approached in a novel form. Very exciting. I sat with him for a bit and we talked about the project I'm working on which is pretty much a collection of non-fiction memoir-ish essays with a fantastical/mythological twist, but I'm telling it in third person, which is a different way of doing things. I'm throwing out some rules with it. He seemed to think that was pretty unique. I did a reading. He said, "Cool."*
So India and I get home from our drive and she sees her Little House on the Prairie collection and she says to me, "Momma, what does it say those books are? Fiction, or non-fiction?" and without really thinking about it, I say, "They're fiction." And then we stop and look at each other. And India says, "Momma?" and I pick up the book and open it, and I say, "That's a really good question, India." And she says, "Because they're not fiction, Momma. They're real." And I say, "You're totally right, India. I don't know what to call them." And it doesn't say anywhere inside the book as to how they are to be categorized in the library.
They're told in the third person narrative.
"Man alive," I say to India. "Laura was doing what the rest of us are talking about now, years ago."
Ain't nothin' new under the sun.