“Metafiction is a self-conscious literary style in which the narrator or characters are aware that they are part of a work of fiction. Authors of metafiction often violate narrative levels by intruding to comment on writing, involving themselves with fictional characters, directly addressing the reader, openly questioning how narrative assumptions and conventions transform and filter reality...trying ultimately to prove that no singular truths or meanings exist.” Wikipedia
In college, a professor asked me what that word meant, probably as she was tired of having a student who was already earning a living as a professional writer, columnist, poet, and editor of magazines and newspapers.
As I didn’t know the answer, I eagerly asked my teacher to share her wisdom. Nope. So, as this was prior to computers, I went straight to the go-to equivalent of them at that time: The question line at the Main Library in Downtown Seattle. They also didn’t know.
A further quote from current Wikipedia says: “The term ‘metafiction’ has remained enigmatic and vague since it was coined in 1970 by William H. Gass in an essay entitled “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction.”
Later rather than sooner, I learned the meaning of “metafiction” and laughed to realize that I’d been doing a lot of that all along. (And that was probably what my professor had recognized.)
My first “favorite author” was Charles Dickens whom I studied carefully to copy his strategies. I found his writing so moving and relatable…in spite of our different eras. He often became deeply involved with his characters, judging them, speaking to and about them, directly addressing the reader, and always questioning the morals and manners of his society in his books.
My most recently published book, Sacrifice: Complete is an example of my use of some of those “violations of narrative.” I allow myself third person as a narrative choice, but then give the main character her first person voice in a journal, where she can also speak to other characters or the journal in second person.
I wonder if poetry can also be “metapoetry.” My piece at the end of my chapbook, The Perks of Aging: Blessings, Silver Linings, & Convenient Half-Truths is “Immortality.” Note how it represents some of the same methods.
Cutting some of my articles out of an old magazine.
My eye caught on a phrase
in someone else’s 1984 piece,
so I read it start to end—
her words a friend.
I wondered if she was still alive
and smiled as one writer to another:
When our bodies are gone,
the words live on.
Readers: I have one spot open in my Winter quarter ZOOM group (Thursdays 3pm to 4 or 4:30pm PT).
Connect at email@example.com for that or to request a flier of online classes and ZOOM groups.
Ariele Huff hosts Sharing Stories for Northwest Prime Time, collects poetry for her Poetry Corner, and composes Writing Corner for their once every two months editions. Links for the two books mentioned:
The Perks of Aging: Blessings, Silver Linings, & Convenient Half Truths http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VFAFAAE
Sacrifice: Complete Entombed in an ancient Egyptian pyramid, Merit (15) is the youngest wife of the elderly Pharaoh who is on his way to eternity with the gods. She knows she is lucky to be included...and she has been sealed in along with Fero’s favorite cat.... What could possibly happen to change her certain outcome? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09P6T4JGW
SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).
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