Outside the Margins: Writing in Different Genres

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09.23.13 / notebooks + writing

zine pages, journals, and notebooks

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry the past few weeks, late at night when I can’t sleep with too many beautiful phrases floating through my brain. My pen scratches over the paper as I write, think, and write some more. (I’m not someone who can write nonstop, scribbling nonsense or the alphabet until my train of thought returns.) Dan fidgets and I scowl because I have to stop until he’s done and my hand won’t shake too much to write. Sometimes the ball pops out of the pen and ink tumbles out across the page. I’ll make ink art with the tip of the pen before I get up to find a new one.

More often than not, I write fictional prose: my novel is young adult fiction; I have short stories littering my hard drive and drawers; and I first started writing with short stories because honestly, how many six year olds write poetry? But since high school, I’ve had a special place in my heart and notebooks for poetry and most recently prose poetry. I took a course my final semester of college called “Prose Poems & Mini Stories,” and the way it changed my creative writing approach and helped to mold my style was enlightening. When I get stuck in my stories, I write poetry.

Poetry recharges my use of language, which occasionally runs dry as I’m writing and writing and writing my novel. It gives me the freedom to be a little silly or sentimental, to write terrible poetry like a stereotypical teenage novice if I want. Writing outside my typical genre is always beneficial because it allows me the opportunity to take a break while still working on my art, if that makes sense. It flexes the muscles that get weak when I’m focusing only on getting the story down without always doing it well.

Journaling becomes helpful when I need to write but am not sure how to because it is the epitome of the phrase, “Just write.” Since I don’t share it, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous or bad it turns out. It often comes across as even more sloppy and angst-ridden than my poetry. It doesn’t have to be as thoughtful as the diaries of Anaïs Nin, as cool as that would be; rather, my journal becomes a mess of thoughts that are made clearer when they’re puked across my notebook. But if I want, I can also take a little longer, be a little more deliberate, and craft an entry that might someday be worth of chronicling long after I’m dead.

Zines become an interesting combination of all kinds of genres and styles for me. My perzine is a bit of creative nonfiction, my prose poetry and mini story zine is exactly that, and I have a few fanzines in mind that are going to combine poetry and creative nonfiction elements. Zines may be one of my favorite writing outlets because they can be so flexible to a writer’s needs and wants in their art.

Once in a while, I remember my old LiveJournal and Xanga and MySpace blogs, and I remember how I wrote them late at night and they always turned into something I was proud of even in the first ragged drafts. They had soul that sometimes in the contemporary blog atmosphere just doesn’t get to be seen. So I stay up late and I try to find some remnant of that time in my heart to pour out into my writing.

It’s not just story crafting that I love. It’s the experience of writing as a whole: the physical act, the variety of outlets, the different freedoms in them all.

September 23, 2013
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  • i agree about the physical act of writing Sonya – with a pen!…not sure how helpful keyboards are even though they allow you to write faster – is that neccesarily a good thing? On the positive side of technology, i have found that facebook has created a new genre for me: the status update, which enables me to reflect, write spontaneous poetry/prose, spin theories, describe dreams,etc…

  • There are so many different kinds of writing, and I can never quite tell which I like best. Strangely enough, I kind of miss all of the technical academic writing I used to do in college. I was actually really good at making ideas and crazy theories flow and read well, and wish I could do it more often! All provide a completely different, but equally wonderful experience!

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