These days, post-stroke, I cannot write fiction. I can only read about 5-10 pages/day of fiction. There’s something I find challenging about imagination and construction of said imagination these days. (Once, btw, I thought about writing a story where the main character lost all ability to imagine…boy, I never thought I’d be living that life).
But nonfiction? That’s a different story–I’m able to write nonfiction, to report what is going on in my life and mull it over, in words here (and in my journal). I can more easily read most nonfiction, too–newspapers, blogs, and magazines are all easy bites. No, I have not tried reading a memoir, in case you’re going to ask.
I am not sure why nonfiction is easier to digest than fiction–is it because I can absorb it in small morsels, that it COMES in small morsels? Is it because the narration is usually linear? Another friend of mine who also has had a brain injury (but not a stroke) says she too can read nonfiction more easily than fiction. And nevermind, as a TA in school, how many undergrads I ran into who preferred to read the nonfiction books on the class’s reading list. Oh! And nevermind how nonfiction SELLS more than fiction (sad but true).
Or perhaps the fiction/imagination center is in the thalamus, where my stroke was centered (like earthquakes, stroke talk focuses around “what part of the brain it hit” (like an epicenter) and “how big it was” (magnitude)).
Or ahem, maybe fiction is harder…? Maybe there’s a cognitive leap we must take to read and understand fiction? Yes, my fiction snobbery is showing.