RALEIGH—Whether they're writing about their grade-school days, the loves of their lives, or social issues, writers of Creative Nonfiction work to uncover the truth. Sometimes, it's impossible not to involve oneself in a nonfiction narrative. Other times, it's ill-advised.
Paul Cuadros, who will lead the creative nonfiction track at the NCWN 2018 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, July 19-22, at NC State University in Raleigh, was deep into an investigative story when he realized there was no way he could not get involved.
The result? A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America, which tells the story of Paul's experiences coaching a boys' soccer team in Siler City, and the tensions and reconciliations among community members as their town changed quickly around them.
Paul moved to Chatham County in 1999. Forseeing how an influx of Latin-American immigrants would change the culutre of the interior United States, he received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation. This fellowship, considered "one of the most prestigious fellowships in journalism," allowed Paul to report on emerging Latino communities in rural poultry-processing towns in the South.
The Jets were state champions, but there was no storybook ending, not really.
"In the epilogue, only one player goes on to higher education and completes a degree," says Paul. "The rest go into the trades and try to fashion a life where their lack of documentation stymies their dreams. The ending shows the sad truth that not having a pathway to citizenship is a roadblock in life. It says that the promise of America is broken. That once upon a time we welcomed immigrants with few qualifications other than the desire to do better, and although we exploited the parents, we allowed the kids to become citizens. Today that is no longer true."
At the NCWN 2018 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, Paul will lead the Creative Nonfiction tract, "Storytelling from a Point of Truth."
Creative Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction, New Journalism, Documentary Writing—no matter what you call it, storytelling from a point of truth is the name of the game. There are many ways to tell nonfiction stories today, but they all have tenets that keep them in line and together. The first is finding a compelling story based in truth. Then research, research, research. And then writing, using the creative writer’s tools to craft a compelling, rich, true narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. The nonfiction work depends on the research of the event or story wishing to be told, and so attendees will discuss methods on how to collect information, interview people, hang out, challenge memory, recreate important events and times, and develop a story that reads like a novel but is as true as they can make it. Nonfiction requires the writer to be part reporter, part creative writer. Registrants wll discuss, examine, and learn both sets of techniques and skills. Voice is also key in this, and developing the right voice for the narrative is important. Finally, conferencegoers will discuss pitching the nonfiction work and the development of the all-important proposal. They'll go over ideas in class, as well as their work, and any exercises they may have time for. Attendees should come away from the session with an understanding of the work involved in researching a story, putting it together, and pitching it to someone.
Paul Cuadros is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as the chair of the UNC Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a college mentoring and preparatory program for Latino high school students at six local public high schools. He is an award-winning investigative reporter and author whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, Salon.com, The Chicago Reporter, and other national and local publications. His book A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America (Harpers Collins), which tells the story of Siler City as it copes and struggles with Latino immigration through the lives of a predominantly Latino high school soccer team, has been required summer reading for undergraduates at UNC-Chapel Hill and several other colleges and universities. In 2014, the book was adapted into the television documentary series Los Jets, produced by Jennifer Lopez and her production company, Nuyorican Productions, Inc. Cuadros is currently working on another book about the Latino community in the American South.
Rob Greene will lead the class in poetry, "Poems of Experience." Elaine Neil Orr will lead the fiction class, "From Character to Plot to Atmosphere."
Registration is capped at forty-two registrants, first-come, first-served.