Creative Non-fiction and the Paprika Incident

Wikipedia defines creative non-fiction as a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact, but is not primarily written in service to its craft. As a genre, creative nonfiction is still relatively young, and is only beginning to be scrutinized with the same critical analysis given to fiction and poetry.

In this blog post, I will attempt to show the difference between “technical writing” and creative non-fiction. First, the technical writing of an incident that happened yesterday:

STEPHEN: What are you doing?
JAN: Making egg salad.
STEPHEN: Why don’t you make deviled eggs?
JAN: Egg salad is easier and it tastes almost the same. It just doesn’t have paprka.
STEPHEN: I love deviled eggs.
JAN: (Laughing) I remember an argument that Mary and I had once about whether paprika had any flavor or not.
STEPHEN: Yeah? What was the argument about?
JAN: Mary thought paprika did have a flavor, and I said it was only for decorative purposes.
STEPHEN: How old were you?
JAN: Probably about fourteen.
STEPHEN: I can’t believe you can remember that far back.
JAN: Of course I can remember. I remember both times in my life I was wrong.

Jan and Mary almost 40 years after the “Paprika Incident.”

Now, here’s the creative non-fiction version:

     One spring morning, Jan decided she was in the mood for an egg salad sandwich for breakfast. Her mouth watered in anticipation as she peeled each egg.
     Her husband, Stephen, watched from the kitchen table. “What are you doing?” he asked, then took another sip of coffee.
     “Making egg salad,” she said, tossing the last peeled egg into a bowl.
     “Why don’t you make deviled eggs?”
     Jan mashed the white orbs with a fork and scooped a dollop of mayonnaise into the bowl. “Egg salad is easier and it tastes almost the same. It just doesn’t have paprika.”
     “I love deviled eggs,” Stephen said, turning a page of his newspaper.
     Recalling a conversation from high school, Jan laughed. “I remember an argument that Mary and I had once about whether paprika had any flavor or not.”
     “Yeah? What was the argument about?”
     “Mary thought paprika did have a flavor, and I said it was only for decorative purposes.”
      “How old were you?”
     She stopped mixing and thought about the day she and Mary sat in the cafeteria at school, talking about paprika when other girls their age were talking about boys. “Probably about fourteen.”
     The newspaper rustled as Stephen folded it. “I can’t believe you can remember that far back.”
     Jan tasted the egg salad, deciding it needed a little more salt. “Of course I can remember. I remember both times in my life I was wrong.”
     Stephen rolled his eyes.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in creative nonfiction, nostalgia, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Creative Non-fiction and the Paprika Incident

  1. ed_quixote says:

    Nicely observed and told, Jan! Some time back (but not so far back as my 14th year), I was cooking chili for my children, who were not into spicy (read: hot) food, and found a chili recipe that suggested substituting paprika for some of the chili powder. Worked fine. I believe paprika is in fact a pepper, albeit a mild one.

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks for your comment, ed_quixote. You're right – paprika is a pepper. I didn't know that until I looked at Google images for paprika, however! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s