I have little aptitude for nonfiction.
I chalk this up to the curse of a normal upbringing. Jane Eyre I'm not, with my childhood in the suburbs of Connecticut, in a beige house which once was white on the inside, until over the course of a few weeks it was repainted eggshell white. My dad had a black Corolla, an exceptionally average car, and when it quit we traded it for a beige Corolla that seemed the ghost of his father's beige Corolla before it. So I just can't see, when examining the landscape of my life, the fascinating trees in the ordinary, suburban forest of Corolla ownership.
In fiction, I can cull through the details of said life a little more objectively. The details I'd most like to protect are the ones I inevitably use. For instance, the lawn flamingoes. Once, on a drive with my dad from the nursing home where my Bubby regaled us with stories of her new and imaginary children, we passed a saltbox house hidden behind the peeling trunks of paper birches. Plastic pink flamingoes sunned themselves on the front lawn. They reminded me of Papa (gone, then) and Bubby's old backyard, where plastic flamingoes stalked the flower bushes, the horseshoe pit, the garden hose reel. I said so, and Dad sighed "you have no idea, Becca," and told me what he wouldn't give to be little again, to see his dog, splash his father in the city pool. I shrugged awkwardly around my seatbelt.
This became a scene for me, a set through which a story passed. There was a Mellencamp song on the radio, and the noxious summer smell of OFF! insect repellent which somehow swelled inside the (black) Corolla, and gaudy plastic flamingoes on a lawn bejeweled with dandelions. I had to fight the notion not to use it because it was personal, and because doing so always feels a little like cannibalizing my past to feed my fiction. But such details—the very happy ones and the ones that flare up like rotten teeth when knocked against—are always the ones I take the greatest care in translating for a reader, and if they're hard to let go of, I think it's worth the work to do so.