Kate Ver Ploeg’s “Fall From the Sky” was incorrectly published in CALYX Vol. 28:1 as fiction. Her piece is, in fact, a true experience told from a vulnerable place in her heart. We are deeply apologetic to Ms. Ver Ploeg for the misprint, and wish to give her the space to reclaim the label and explain the significance of “Fall From the Sky” as nonfiction.
Ver Ploeg, who writes almost exclusively nonfiction, explained that writing this piece was a way for her to work through the questions her experience left her. The investigation of the harassment she faced brought up questions within herself and from others about her credibility and memory. When “Fall From the Sky” appeared labeled as fiction, those unpleasant feelings resurfaced.
“Seeing my explanation of that experience labeled as fiction brought back many feelings from those two years: doubt, uncertainty, erasure,” she said.
So much of her experience was about silence, and writing her story was a way to give a voice to herself and others.
“In publishing “Fall From the Sky” as nonfiction, I wanted people to know that this erasure, so frequently unmentioned in trainings on sexual harassment, happened to me, and it happens to many and it keeps happening,” she said.
There is a stark difference between fiction and nonfiction for Ver Ploeg, as she explained that nonfiction brings the subject much closer to the reader.
“Knowing that a story is about real people, that these events happened in a world that I too inhabit, shifts the story into a space that feels rawer,” she said. “In fiction, everything that happens bends in service to the story, and what doesn’t happen can be fabricated. But nonfiction doesn’t have that luxury.”
I wanted “Fall From the Sky” to be viewed as the truth. A slanted truth, in that it definitely represents my perspective, but true to the events that unfolded and the emotions I felt.
It’s important to Ver Ploeg that “Fall From the Sky” be published as nonfiction, because it changes the ultimate purpose and perspective.
“As a piece of nonfiction, I’m telling the readers that I did not fabricate the facts, that sections lifted from the university report and emails to friends are direct quotes, that my research is accurate, and the events are faithful to my memory,” Ver Ploeg said. “With the option to conveniently manipulate fact, the label of fiction introduces a seed of doubt. It calls into question the validity of those facts and can undercut the authenticity of the writer’s perspective…I think this affects how readers engage with a text.”
Additionally, Ver Ploeg viewed writing this piece and other nonfiction as a powerful tool for advocacy and change, which is a purpose that can be minimized with a fiction label.
“It became vitally important to me that this piece stand as a testament,” she said, “for those who have also been silenced and for those who have no idea of the extent of this silence or how it feels.”
“I wanted “Fall From the Sky” to be viewed as the truth,” she said. “A slanted truth, in that it definitely represents my perspective, but true to the events that unfolded and the emotions I felt.”