ABCs of Creative Nonfiction: Z is for Zero

Posted by on Jul 31, 2016 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

ZZ_ArtZ is for “Zero,” or How I Got Fired From Spry Because I Said the ‘F’ Word Too Much

As in zero fucks. As in ZERO FUCKS, Nana.

Okay, alright. Are we good? Are we scared? ARE WE PUMPED?! Did you think that Z was going to stand for ‘Zany!!!!111!!’ or ‘Zippity-do-da!’ or ‘Zexual Healing’? Well, it’s not. This is not that kind of talk, and I wish you were stop trying to push your beliefs on me when we are out at dinner. I’m just trying to enjoy my veggie tartar, and you’re making a scene.

‘Zero fucks’ is an interesting concept because in the world of writing and in the minds of writers, we should be caring what others think. In our itty-bitty minds, if something isn’t perfect, then no one will like it, so no one will buy it, and you’ll develop erectile dysfunction.

It’s true—we are in the business of entertainment. We seek to invoke emotions or instill experiences from the reader; this is understood as a success. But we succumb to failure when we try to implant ourselves in the mind of the reader.

That is not to say that the reader is not important—remember, we are entertainers—but the reader’s judgment of the text should not be the driving force behind its creation.

For example, an author like Kathryn Harrison wrote a memoir about her relationship with her father. Not her relationship, her relationship. Yeah, that kind. Of course, there were most likely moments where Ms. Harrison thought, “Holy shit, I cannot believe I’m about to tell everyone that my dad and I doodlebopped.” But you know what? She wrote through it because her story was one that should be told. Her story mattered. She giveth zero fucks.

Another one: Nox by Anne Carson is a fantastic visual text, memorializing her brother after his passing. How stressful it must be to retrace the history of a sibling into words and feel okay with how it turned out. She must have gone bonkers. But she knew she had to tell her brother’s story, and thank god she did because it’s wonderful. Fucks times Zero.

Now why did they not hand out any fucks? Because they wrote about difficult subjects that could have easily been stashed in that top drawer, never to be seen again. They could have saved themselves some stress or embarrassment. They could have said, “Everyone is going to hate this, so fuck it.” They could have, but they didn’t.

“Get the hell outta here, Kathryn and Anne! You sit down and finish writing these things or no more Haagen-Dazs for you,” most likely said by their editors. 

A good, simple exercise to reel in the fucks is to write your greatest fear or a secret you’ve never told anyone.

What made you keep this secret? Why is it a secret? Who are keeping the secret from? What would happen if people found out about this secret? What lengths have you gone to keep this secret?

Where did this fear start? What happens when you think about this fear or are faced with this fear? Do you shake? Cry? Sweat? Scream? What lengths have you gone to avoid this fear?

When you start writing like this with no filter, no assumptions, no worry, there will be no stopping you. Fear only holds us back from the truth. And isn’t the world a much better place when we are a little vulnerable?

Readers, writers, doers, don’ters, secluders, narcissists, plain Janes, Tom Green’s—we are all writers. Our stories matter. And we must always go into the battle with a sword and shield and stab any motherfucker that stands in our way. I’m sorry, I’ve been watching A LOT of Game of Thrones lately. Let me try again.

We must always write like winter is coming. That’s awful.

We must write like we’re a Lannister. Not the incest-y ones. The cool one. The one who drinks too much. The one who is not of average height. Him. He’s great. Write like he lives.

Spry will never ask me to write anything again.

Go write, dum-dums. Go write like it’s you’ve got nothing to lose except the seven kingdoms. Go write like you don’t give a fuck.

Love, Zac.


Zac Zander lives in Connecticut with fiancé, Michael, and his dog, Kaki, who is named after the musician, not the pants. He obtained his MFA from Fairfield University with a concentration in nonfiction. His work appeared in Now What? The Creative Writer’s Guide to Success after the MFA, and he is currently working on several projects, including a collection of essays and an album.

1 Comment

  1. Great! Loved this Zak.

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