It is bendy, but there will be no blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction. It’s more about blurring the objective + subjective. Or maybe less than a blurring, a realignment. The term nonfiction kind of stinks, since there’s really nothing “non” about reality, which we hold to be compelling enough that no fudging or dramatic embellishment is required. And, yes, we do hold facts to be facts! The writers we are most interested in want to engage directly with reality, question the conventions of what creative nonfiction “should” sound like, and know that the lofty ideal of being a neutral observer is a total artifice. The XFic writer will embrace more subversive and fun forms of artifice. But our brand of experimental writing is not jazzing around just for the sake of being gonzo. The stakes of reality are too high. Our experiments will be guided by sound theories that put to the test how we really experience reality, and how we reconstruct those experiences for our readers to experience as literature.
However excellent, a lot of nonfiction tends to take a passive stance. It re-collects, re-creates, re-ports. It goes out and faithfully explains what someone else is doing or thinking, or reconstructs events from memory or the archived facts, even when the subject is the mind of the author recalling an earlier chapter of her own life (memoir). Experiential writing means more immediacy. It means the writer is more directly involved, whether by being an active participant in the story itself, or employing alternative research strategies (e.g., guerrilla tactics), or by playing dramaturge and having a hand in arranging the material (and even events) of the story itself.
As with most longform, many of our stories start by going out in the world with pen and paper to collect bits and pieces of reality. But we will continually challenge and amplify our own methods by asking, for instance, why do we bother experiencing anything or documenting any experience only to recreate it for others to experience in their own minds in the first place? The hope is that by enacting a few thought experiments, and being as conscious as possible about the process of arranging and composing our collected material—how do we perceive, how do we interpret, how do we arrive at meaning—and by engaging the literary superpower of daring to take the Radical Choice at every possible turn, we will make more authentic and mind-blowing discoveries.
Yes! The publication XFic is wrapped into ENG 145 (Fall 2021). Students who decide to join XFic (there is no extra permission required) will complete one long nonfiction story assignment with the expectation that their stories will be published in that semester’s issue. Please see course description.
The class itself will take the form of a weekly workshop/editorial meeting, where we will subject our stories to a battery of rigorous and boundary-defying tests. Students will be paired in an editor/writer relationship. This collaboration will require students to be responsible not only for advancing their own story, but their assigned writer’s story as well. Because XFic is a student run journal, each student will also hold an editorial position. Editors will receive credit alongside each published piece.
No! Anyone can join XFic. You do NOT need to be a writing major.
If you think it might be fun to hold a blowtorch to the crusty ideas of so-called Realism, or might want to invent new ways of being in the world, or to write yourself into the world, or even risk changing it, XFic wants you.