A Non-Fiction Manifesto
I am the Wizard
My wife has settled into sleep, and I am left alone with my work. The blank space on the screen challenges me by its very existence. Its presence taunting me with potential. And I stare back, mind as blank as the space itself. The whiskey on the shelf nearby calls out to me in the voices of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Poe, but I ignore it. For while the lubrication it provides may let words flow more freely to the page, it may also send them sliding and tumbling, obscuring their meaning in a cascade of typos and syntactic missteps. If writing is to be a labor of love, then let it be a labor; the birthing pains and messy afterbirth a testament to its worth.
And while I sit and ponder this labor I have undertaken, I cannot help but to dwell on the difference I feel in knowing this is not a work of fiction. Why should this be, I wonder, for every work of fiction comes forth bearing a fragment of the writer’s soul. What matter then if I try to tell my truth and end up telling a story, rather than trying to tell a story and ending up telling my truth? Yet I know this to be the crux of my difficulty.
Ever have I tried to obscure my truths by couching them in verse and imaginings. I believe that in large part this was the work of a shy boy doing his best impression of the Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” And now I have chosen to boldly draw back the curtain and exclaim, “I am the Wizard, and I need the curtain no longer!” Little wonder then if I fear that even Toto should be unimpressed.
That is the joy and the trial of non-fiction. To stand before the desperate wanders without pomp or circumstance, with no smoke or mirrors or special effects, and still have them believe that you are in fact the great and powerful Wizard, and not some schlub in a fancy suit. And so it is that with a mixture of determination and trepidation that I begin to type, explicit in my purpose to speak of who I am and whence I’ve come; trusting in myself, and in you, to believe.