Thirty percent of all readers instantly contract narcolepsy when they hear the term “narrative nonfiction.” Seriously. Boredom erupts within their souls and they immediately pass out due to an overdose of dry non-excitement. The term has always made me think of Abraham Lincoln for some reason. I hear “narrative nonfiction” and my mind conjures scenes of antiquity which play out through a sepia tone filter wherein everybody is old and insipid and boring as fuck. But if you do it right, if you paint with humor and refuse to pull punches, narrative nonfiction can be an art. It can be something that draws out emotion and holds it up in a painful or loving light. It can be something better than fiction even though pretend worlds come complete with space ships and ray guns, because this life, this narrative nonfiction that’s ugly, perfect, and always around us, is more captivating than any amount of made-up bullshit. You just have to know how to write it, to make it stick to your paper, and how to make it captivating enough to keep the spread of narcolepsy under control.
I want to write fiction. I want to spawn characters with which you can identify. And then I want a rich old Jew to buy the rights and make a movie or three and I want ten percent; that comes out to roughly forty-five million dollars. But lately, my fans (and yes, that was plural) have been telling me that my narrative nonfiction is far better than my fiction. I say thank you, but I flip them off as soon as they turn around. Do you have any idea how much money one can make writing stories about what actually happens? Neither do I, but I’m pretty sure it’s not forty-five million dollars. Whatever. But I do love it. There’s something liberating underneath all of it. I’ve written about dark times in my life, and when the strangers impart their compliments, it’s like they’re saying “Hey, thanks for experiencing that for us. Everything’s okay now.” It feels awesome. Ergo, I’ve decided to dedicate “part 2” to narrative nonfiction writers… wake up.
In my first segment, I said that I was going to focus on writers that’d never published anything so I could give them that proverbial kick in the ass to get up, get out, and get something (Outkast is the best rap group of all time) but I’m not going that route in this segment. I wasn’t able to find any latent nonfiction writers who hadn’t posted anything, and frankly, both of the writers in this segment are ridiculously good so I’m changing shit up. I don’t think these two have sold anything and they’re not “famous” (mostly because people demand sparkly vampires these days) so there’s that; my restrictions for “burgeoning writer” have been met. And I’m excited as hell to feature these two on my blog; both of these writers will eventually find some degree of success because they’ve got crazy talent. Each of them has that ability to observe the quotidian, and then transform what they see into insightful prose. This is another one of those “I found them first” moments.
The first writer in is Audrey Farnsworth; she has this crazy ability to boil down an experience into pure comedy. Most writers use “funny” as a condiment, but Farnsworth makes it the entree.
Bio: “Audrey Farnsworth is a comedian and writer currently in the midst of moving from her hometown of Tempe, Arizona to Los Angeles, which is terrifying to her. She’s been a director and member of several sketch comedy groups. She does stand up. She writes about things wearing hats that probably wouldn’t, normally. She hopes to succeed in her comedic endeavors. Time will tell.”
Going to the doctor can be very nerve-wrecking. You’ve got a problem, you know you have a problem, but once you’re sitting in that little room all by yourself, you start to get into your own head, perhaps forget your own name, and by the time the doctor actually enters the room, you forget completely why you’re there in the first place, as well as any and every question you wanted to ask.
That’s why it is important to make a list of questions beforehand. Don’t be embarrassed – a lot of people do this, and the doctors are used to it because they get it all the time. How are you supposed to remember a bunch of questions and also your name and how to walk and breathe? That’s absurd.
Even if it’s only a yearly checkup, it’s important to ask questions. What are good questions to ask anyways, you may be wondering? Listed below are some more important examples.
– At what age should I begin regularly exercising?
– What time should one stop eating at night, as not to gain weight?
– What does a beak feel like?
– Am I a healthy weight for my height?
– Is there such a thing as a goat, really?
– What is “3?”
– How many times is too many times for someone to accidentally pee on your own stove?
– If it’s over 6 feet, is it still considered a candle, or is that a torch?
– How do you know if you’re Bret Micheals?
– What attracts ghosts? Tomatoes?
– Sometimes I think my hands are tambourines?
– If you see a wolf, and are not filled with fear, are you a wolf now?
– Are these really called “hands,” or is there a better name for them?
– If my boss asks me to tuck in my shirt, and I don’t want to, so I cut off both of my legs, will my insurance cover it?
– Is there an actual function for glasses, or are they just necklaces for your eyes?
– What do you do if you can’t find your house? Go to someone else’s?
– How do you know if there is an eel living in your brain? Will he tell you, or do you have to guess?
– Are my parents actual pigeons, or did I dream that?
– Is there a Soft Rock Cafe?
– When is it O.K. to vacuum a stranger?
– Can you be allergic to the word “hatch?”
– Are pine cones Easter eggs that have “gone rogue?”
– Is hair loss genetic?
– Is having a stomach that is inside genetic?
– Are tubas actually just recordings of sad whales?
– Can someone actually be born wearing a hat?
– Are cars with blue tinted headlights only driven by angels?
– What is the average age of a healthy human being?
– What do you do if someone reacts negatively to the collage you made of their dad?
– What to do if you ask someone “How are you?” but they ask you at the same time? Move in together?
– Has anyone invented ham cake yet? Can I invent it? Can you?
– Is a chaplain just another name for a magician, but a funny one?
– Can you teach a falcon how to drive a car, and if not, can you please explain how I got here today?
– Does “CD” stand for “Burger Police?”
– How do I join the Burger Police? They accept humans, or just burgers?
– If I kill myself, could I choose to be reincarnated as a burger?
– Does a platypus know how fucking stupid as shit it looks?
– Heads… what are they, really?
– If you throw up a whole microwave, can you return it to a store, without a receipt?
– What is a receipt?
– What is a microwave?
– How many moms are loitering outside of any given Red Robin, right now, or ever?
– Can pants be shirts?
– The hell’s a “vest?” A car? Is it like a Jeep?
– Jeeps aren’t actually real, are they?
– So, who’s all a ghost here, in this office? The ones with clipboards?
– Do you like your mouth? I’m not sure if I like mine much?
– Will you tattoo an actual taco to my mouth, right now?
– What are the signs of diabetes?
– I’m 85% positive that one of my arms is a flute? Can you try playing it?
– Can my bathroom be my boyfriend?
– If I plug my ears long enough, will they just get off my head, already????
– Can I open up a Mervyn’s, inside of my heart?
– Is climbing inside of the pants you are currently wearing an appropriate response to someone asking you on a date?
– Where can I hire models for my clothing brand who are actual buildings? Here?
– How many falcons do you know with masters degrees? All of them, or?
– Did you go to high school?
– What can guys who wear their sunglasses on the backs of their heads NOT do perfectly???
– *clicking sounds with questions marks at the end*
Obviously, this is just a template. Everyone is different. To your health, friends.
I chose to end this piece with this second writer, Ashley Byrd, because her writing left me with an odd feeling that lingers; I’d like it to stick with you when you go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before you started reading this. She shares her trials, and as a reader, it makes you feel a bit voyeuristic; we’re currently suffering through a paucity of writers who have the balls needed to pull that off.
Bio: “I spent my teens and early twenties making mistakes. I spent my mid-twenties and late-twenties making up for those mistakes. Now, here I am, thirty and still a mess.
After two degrees and nearly eight years in the corporate world, I’m ready to start over. I’m ready to be free.
I’m ready to write.”
so now i’m a serial killer
I was sitting on my porch the other night when my neighbors came home. Now, we share a driveway so when they pulled up it was just three feet away from my face. I couldn’t very well run inside because that would be rude, right? Running into your house when your next door neighbors have clearly spotted you is just plain impolite, right? When they got out of the car we exchange some awkward “hello, yeah, it’s real dark out tonight, oh yeah because it’s nighttime” chit chat. It probably wasn’t awkward for them as they are most likely normal human beings unlike myself. I am a huge, awkward, babbling dork in any social situation with humans I’m not familiar with.
Standing around with new strangers I meet one night…
“HA! HA!.. yeah, like you probably have a big vagina. HA! HA! You know, because you have kids! HA! Ha!”
–in my head—oh God that wasn’t funny, be funny, be funny—
Cue I circle a big vagina in the air, step in say “Hi!” and step out. You know, because I’m a huge talking vagina.
Me: “HA! Ha! Ha…ha. I’m totally kidding you know, I’ll bet you had a good episiotomy. For sure your vagina is probably much nicer than mine.”
Others: –one by one slowly start to make conversion with other people around us and push me out of the circle where I stand going on, talking to myself.—
Because I can’t stop myself, because I’m a big, fucking unfiltered awkward shell of a once human being.
Hours later I see my newly-made friends and am like, “hey, yea, remember me, made the vagina joke earlier. Ha! Oh, you’re going over there? Oh yeah, yeah, I’m going to yeah, go just over here, yup.”It was a black tie wedding.
Anyway, as my neighbors walk towards their door I can hear the girlfriend say, “Did you get the water back on?” and her boyfriend reply, “No.” I hear some moans of disappointment and/or disapproval from the female neighbor. At this time, I’m a little buzzed, not intoxicated but a bit tipsy. So I decided it would be a GREAT idea to let them know “HEY! You can use my water! I have water here neighbor! If you want to use it or something, not with me of course but, yup. Water, over here, my place.”
I don’t say that of course, but I write them a note that goes a little something like this…
“HEY! It’s your neighbor! The girl next door. Listen, this may sound crazy, but I think you guys said something about not having water? Well, you are more than welcome to use mine.” Then I write my name and number, but before that I decide it would be a really smart idea to write at the very top of the note in capital letters, “I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.” Because I’m smart AND funny. Surely, my neighbors whom I’ve met twice get my sense of humor. So I waddle over and tape the note to their door.
Let’s be clear, I can hear a roach from a mile away, but people are another story. I really am a bit hard of hearing and unless you speak loudly and pronunciate, you can usually hear me say loudly to people “USE YOUR WORDS.” I awake the next morning and realize this, I also realize that I was kind of intoxicated as well and MUST GET TO THAT FUCKING LETTER A-SAP.
It’s 7:00am, their car has not been touched, maybe haven’t left the house yet. I run to the kitchen, peer out the window and the letter is fucking gone. It’s gone. I start playing a scenario in my head as to what is going through their head, “She’s so sweet. What a good neighbor. Was that bitch coming on to you? What a freak!” Stuff like that. Then I also start to think that maybe they never even got the letter. They usually leave work after me; they couldn’t have gotten the letter? It did rain a little last night, did it blow away? Then I decided to just let it be; after consulting with some friends, they assured me it was a sweet gesture and my neighbors will probably call and thank me. I have come home several evenings expecting a handwritten thank you card.
It’s been two weeks. I still have no idea if they intercepted my serial killer letter.