Would You Like Fictional Sprinkles on that Non-Fictional Sundae? By Steff Deschenes
“You don’t really write non-fiction that well. You’re a better story-telling – stick to writing fiction.” One creative writing teacher told me.
“Your fiction comes off as strained, but your non-fiction is effortless – stick to writing non-fiction.” The other creative writing teacher told me.
And that’s how my life as a writer started.
I always wanted to be a fiction writer. Nothing seemed more beautiful to me than being able to stretch the borders of my own imagination by writing stories about world’s that didn’t exist or adventures that hadn’t been taken until I personally gave life to them. And to be able to share that with others longing to escape routine or normalcy seemed like heaven to me!
While trying to write the next great American novel, I honed my craft by rewriting real life scenarios I found myself in and the conversations that occurred in those moments. While completely absorbed in those real moments (trying to be involved with what was going on, but at the same time trying my hardest to remember everything people were saying, the way their faces look, the way I felt, etc.), that’s when I realized that life was already too darn fascinating, entertaining, outlandish, beautiful, and filled with strange worlds and stranger people, that I’d be wasting my time and missing out on some incredible life stories if I wrote anything but the truth.
For me, that’s how it all started. By simply participating in life and recognizing that some moments are so pure, so unplanned that they could never be created, fabricated, or forced. Despite my love of fictional stories, my calling was nonfiction. I would have been denying myself as a writer otherwise.
I’ve found that I’m a much better storyteller when recounting something. Perception is a beautiful thing – everyone perceives everything differently (because of our own intellects, state of minds, emotional journeys, etc.), which makes us all so unique and interesting as human beings. If something happens to a friend and I, he will recount the story differently than I will – probably more accurately! Over the years, I’ve stepped into my own as a nonfictional writer and have found I have the propensity to fabricate a few of the minor details (stretching the truth in a way that entertains and doesn’t hurt has become my forte; and, it allows me to stay in touch with my inner fictional writer); which makes any stories I’m recounting different every time I tell the tale.
I never thought that a self-help book that compares ice cream flavors to people’s personality traits was going to be my first book. How would someone plan for something like that? It’s not as if I woke up one morning, called my mom and said, “I’ve decided I’m gonna travel the world, meet some interesting people, break some hearts, have mine broken, go on some adventures and eat my weight in ice cream along the way to see if maybe there’s some hidden metaphor about the meaning in life in there. Cool?”
It just happened. Life just happened. And I just followed along, participating every step of the way, and trying my hardest to remember things that were said, the way people looked, and the way I felt throughout it at all.
With a little stretching of the truth to top it all off!
Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now eleven-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. And to learn more about her book The Ice Cream Theory visit www.theicecreamtheory.com.