The Big “What If?”
Sometimes, the line between fact and fantasy is pretty blurry for me. I read everything, from haiku poetry to scientific abstracts. Do I like one more than another? — that depends on the quality of the writing, of course. What I like about most writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, is the way an author explores a hypothetical. If you think about it, pretty much any written work explores at least one “What If?” A scientific treatise examines a specific hypothesis; a fictional work explores the consequences of an imaginary person’s choices. Poetry freshens one’s ear for language with wordplay. (I can almost hear the poet asking, “What if I put this word with that?”) Yes, I am down with any kind of writing, from the “What If?” perspective.
Because I want to get out ahead of life and not just react to what happens, I’m always asking “what if?” –about nearly everything. Normal stream-of-consciousness for me is “What if I couldn’t see Maria for the next few days? Should I make a surprise visit to New York to see my mother and sister, or should I explore the island’s interior on foot? If I walked to Cayey, how long would that take?”
I like to learn about other peoples’ What Ifs, real or imagined, too. What other people write — whether expository nonfiction or realistic fiction — it all expands my sense of what’s possible, if not practical. Fantasy and science fiction take the hypothetical even farther and posit an alternate reality altogether — yet a credible one if you accept a certain framework and suspend disbelief. What do we want from reading, after all? We want to learn and to not be bored.
I’m still getting used to everyday life on the island. I don’t have a job yet, so I’ve got plenty of time to read. I’m almost finished with Ronald Fernandez’s The Disenchanted Island; Puerto Rico and the United States in the Twentieth Century. I’m also re-reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for inspiration. I want to yawp over this land, and Whitman reminds me to listen for song behind all I see.
Today, the WordPress editors asked bloggers to weigh in on the so-called “Great Divide” between fiction and nonfiction, and many did. Check out others’ responses at: