Sunday, April 20, 2014

Non Fiction Writing

I keep getting told that I need to write non-fiction. “Write some articles for all those magazines out there; women’s mags, fitness mags, finance mags- it doesn’t matter what kind,” the advice goes. “Get your name out there in those formats, and you’ll develop a group of readers who will follow you when you delve into fiction.”
Excuse me? Yes, I know that’s how countless authors have done it, but what makes these people think that I have anything to offer the readers of magazines?
Women’s mags? Please. I don’t read them. If I’m stuck in a waiting room, I might flip through one, looking at the pictures of uncluttered, clean homes that bear absolutely no relationship to my home, but I have no interest in whatever articles they print, so how am I supposed to write some?
Fitness mags? Yeah, there’d be nothing hypocritical about that. Yes, I have lost 40 pounds so far this year, but that still leaves me on the wrong side of 200, with a long way to go. I’m not even sure how I’ve managed it, so I can’t write any “How I Lost...” articles.
Finance mags? When we got married, we were comfortably located in ‘Middle Class’, but we have definitely fallen to the bottom rung and are trying NOT to make that magical leap into ‘Poor’.
Actually, I have written non-fiction, as part of my job before I retired. I wrote things like instructional newsletters on how to correctly fill out the new internal forms so that the full and correct data could be input into the database; how to use this new-fangled contraption to repair film; step-by-step instructions on how to do the various parts of my job, which got disbursed to the rest of the clerical staff when I went on maternity leave or recovered from surgery. I did not find these subjects very interesting, but at least I knew the topic. I knew where to start, what had to be included, and where I could end.
Even these days, I am writing non-fiction. When I contacted local conventions about doing panels, I offered as many as 4 topics I thought interesting and not already beat into the ground by other panels. All four topics, it turned out, were snapped up. Most of these ideas were inspired by an article I had read on that subject, so now I’ve been gathering more background, trying to break each topic into smaller bits, and organizing those bits into a logical page for an informational hand-out. I don’t expect these to land in any newsletters or magazines, but it is non-fiction. Most of them
Still, I feel like I’m writing 4 different term papers at the same time. I will no doubt tweak these between conventions, but I’d really rather be writing fiction! In fiction, I have my whole imagination at my disposal, and I don’t have to stick to the ‘facts’ if I don’t want to!

What magazines do you read? Would you be willing to write an article for them?

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