In order to shape your writing to your experience, sometimes you need to break out of the mould

Most writing courses centre on learning the structures of writing: What is a narrative arc? What does it mean to show instead of tell? What is effective use of metaphor? For years, my writing practice was all about getting those rules to work for and in my writing.

I still use a traditional narrative arc in most of my work, and I generally stay within a single genre. Lately, though, as conventions are breaking down around me (some of it for good, some of it not), I’ve found that experimental, genre-defying writing sometimes manages to capture the sense of this time better.

From my haiku practice, I’ve ventured into the haibun, a classical Japanese style mixing nonfiction prose and poetry (haiku). My short stories are no longer only in the realist tradition; I’ve ventured into magic realism and science fiction and I’ve even worked on circular narrative structures. In my nonfiction work, I’ve started testing out visual and patchwork essays.

Two such experimental pieces are out this month–the short story ‘Fabric’ is up in Gone Lawn–and my “flow chart essay” is in Journal of Compressed Creative Arts

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