Towards the end of a long working day an email came in asking me to answer eight questions about non-fiction writing; research for an article someone was writing. In the interests of leaving my mind uncluttered (with anything other than the usual clutter), I answered straight away; and a tad impatiently. Now, serendipitously, the Q & A comes back:
People say creative nonfiction is growing in New Zealand, despite a small market, lack of outlets for longform pieces, and NZ fiction having a tough time. Why do you think creative nonfiction is growing?
The term creative nonfiction is a misnomer. Writing is just writing. Trying to make sense of the world and of our place within it.
What has motivated you to publish creative nonfiction? What does it offer that other forms can’t?
It was the nearest thing I could find to poetry, without being ‘poetry’.
Do you see this as part of an international writing/ publishing trend?
What influence do you think social media/ blogging culture has on the rise of creative nonfiction? Does it change the way you write creative nonfiction?
People who blog, or write on social media, are usually not thinking about genre per se; they are just trying to find a way to say what they have to say. I’m the same.
As a writer, whose work in creative nonfiction are you influenced or excited by?
I don’t think about genre when I read. So long as a piece of writing sustains my interest, I persist. Otherwise, I lay the book aside. Or close the link.
Do you think these nonfiction pieces about who we are and where we are have anything to do with some sort of national coming of age?
Nationalism is a pernicious irrelevancy.
Over the course of the time you have been writing nonfiction, what changes have you noticed in the way it is written – and received by readers?
As a form, it is very old. People have always wanted to get the news from writers – not the daily news, but news of the progress of the soul.
Some writers we have spoken to have identified a trend toward the more personal essay – nonfiction that brings the writerly self closer to the centre of the piece. Would you agree with that?