November 25, 2002

Creative Nonfiction: Whah?!

I feel like I am a stranger who has wondered, quite intentionally, into a world that has been going on in a prominent way, for decades, in the world of English majors ... a universe that is quite alien to those such as myself who have lived largely in the laboratory or field, and not in the world of words, and the Ivory Towers of academia where words are cared for and fed. It is as if someone came into my biology lab and discovered "OH! Photosynthesis! I wondered how plants did that". Well duh. Doesn't everybody know that!?

Apparently, the genre has gone through a cycle of nomenclature...from New Nonfiction to Literary Journalism, then Narrative Nonfiction and finally, Creative Nonfiction. If I have anything to say at length, this is the bureau drawer in which it will be filed. Boy, do I have a lot to learn, but I think what I have to say may be compatible with this genre, and I will learn by the seat of my pants. I've been at the bottom of the learning curve before. A lot. As I often told my discouraged kids, "everything you do well and easily today, one day you did poorly". Baby steps...baby steps.

For my own sake, let me record some comments that I find helpful in coming to understand what this creative nonfiction thing is all about. Hopefully I will add to this list of cliplets as I go along. Collecting clips is to writing a 'memoir' as making a leaf collection is to understanding botany. Gotta start somewhere. Sigh.

The following from an article describing a journal of Creative Nonfiction called "The Fourth Genre" by Caron Kruth.

[...]revel in the personal and intimate, small details and ordinary occurrences, that can give unexpected and delightful impact or insights into the larger world. In these writings, it is not the events that are necessarily important, but the meanings that the writer and reader derive from them - the 'how', rather than the 'who'.

[...]has freed the ordinary person to write her or his own stories without the notions that previously ensured the genre was dominated by 'great' or 'famous' men writing about their 'great lives and deeds'

[...]ranging from micro-memoir to nature diary, are recurring themes of place and landscape, identity, belonging and not belonging, of the frailty of the physical body and of family and relationships. The more personal memoirs, in keeping with the best examples of the genre, are intimate without being sentimental or self-absorbed. Many of the pieces also consciously examine the importance of memory and the need to reinvent/discover our own stories and connect to those who are close to us.

[...]Other pieces contain surreal imagery, wry and humorous observations, lustful ruminations on the relationship between the writer and his/her muse in the writing process, insightful cultural investigations, dreams and longings, crisp and innovative prose styles and thoughtful explorations of the self and of the 'bigger picture'.


Posted by fred1st at November 25, 2002 07:25 AM
Comments

The line about memory brings to mind a work that I think embodies the height of creativity expressed as memoir, Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak Memory." Highly recommend it.

Posted by: sainteros at November 25, 2002 10:03 AM

I tried to read that....started to doze about the third point. What is it about academia that manages to take something fun like how we mortals put words together and how do they manage make creativity seem so legalistic and dry? Blog on!

Posted by: Bene Diction at November 26, 2002 01:26 AM

A Cup of Comfort is a popular book series that has been praised by critics, booksellers, and readers alike. Each volume of A Cup of Comfort is filled with creative nonfiction stories about life's most important relationships and experiences.

We are now compiling several new anthologies, and additional volumes are planned.

Would you please share the following Call for Submissions with your colleagues. You are welcome to publish and/or distribute the notice, below, as you see fit.

This is a paid and bylined publishing opportunity with a leading U.S.-based publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

Submission guidelines are gladly provided upon request and are posted online at http://www.cupofcomfort.com.

Thank you for your consideration.

Colleen Sell
Editor, A Cup of Comfort

wordsinger@aol.com
P.O. Box 863, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA
541-942-3405
800-872-5627

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY: CALL FOR INSPIRING TRUE STORIES

The publisher of the acclaimed book series A Cup of Comfort now sponsors several inspiring true-story contests each year. Every contest results in the publication of an anthology consisting of 50 or more creative nonfiction stories about the people and events that bring comfort, joy, and meaning to our lives.

One grand prize of $500 is awarded for each contest/anthology, and all contributors receive a monetary fee and free copy of the book.

We are currently compiling and seeking submissions for the following volumes:

A CUP OF COMFORT: INSPIRATION
Soul-stirring stories about inspiring people and enlightening experiences. Possible themes include: extraordinary acts of charity, compassion, generosity, kindness; triumph over tragedy; overcoming adversity; making dreams come true (own or others); making a difference in the world, lives of others. Primary focus of book is doing for others.
Submission Deadline: April 1, 2003 (EXTENDED)

A CUP OF COMFORT FOR TEACHERS
Heartwarming stories honoring exceptional teachers and mentors; celebrating the joys and rewards of teaching; and dedicated teachers who've overcome challenges and/or helped difficult students.
Submission Deadline: April 15, 2003

A CUP OF COMFORT: COURAGE
Positive and poignant stories about everyday heroes, in their own lives or in the lives of others; facing life's challenges (including disease, disability, death) with courage, dignity, compassion, and grace; taking chances; doing the right and noble thing, against the odds or against the grain.
Submission Deadline: May 15, 2003

NOTE: Semifinalists are selected throughout the submission period, so early entry is encouraged. Submission deadlines are sometimes extended to secure the acquisition of a sufficient quantity and balanced mix of compelling and relevent stories.

Additional volumes are planned. Potential themes include: compassion, gratitude, bereavement, couples, fathers, sisters, twins, blended families, adoptive families, children of divorce, animal lovers, baby boomers, seniors, new parents, newlyweds, and more.

Story Length: 1000-2000 words

Stories must be original, positive, based on real people and events, and in English.

Preference given to anecdotal and emotionally evocative creative nonfiction stories and narrative essays. Please, no flowerly prose, poetry, journalistic articles, testimonials, profiles, or fiction.

Simultaneous and previously published submissions accepted, with the exception of mass-market anthologies.

Aspiring and published writers welcome.

For guidelines: wordsinger@aol.com; SASE to P. O. Box 863, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA; or http://www.cupofcomfort.com

Posted by: Colleen Sell at February 28, 2003 08:12 PM

THE POWER OF STORY: CALL FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION

The publisher of the acclaimed book series A Cup of Comfort now sponsors several inspiring true-story contests each year. Every contest results in the publication of an anthology consisting of 50 or more creative nonfiction stories about the people and events that bring comfort, joy, and meaning to our lives.

One grand prize of $500 is awarded for each contest/anthology, and all contributors receive a monetary fee and free copy of the book.

We are currently compiling and seeking submissions for the following volumes:

A CUP OF COMFORT: INSPIRATION
Soul-stirring stories about inspiring people and enlightening experiences. Possible themes include: extraordinary acts of charity, compassion, generosity, kindness; triumph over tragedy; overcoming adversity; making dreams come true (own or others); making a difference in the world, lives of others. Primary focus of book is doing for others.
Submission Deadline: April 1, 2003 (EXTENDED)

A CUP OF COMFORT FOR TEACHERS
Heartwarming stories honoring exceptional teachers and mentors; celebrating the joys and rewards of teaching; and dedicated teachers who've overcome challenges and/or helped difficult students.
Submission Deadline: April 15, 2003

A CUP OF COMFORT: COURAGE
Positive and poignant stories about everyday heroes, in their own lives or in the lives of others; facing life's challenges (including disease, disability, death) with courage, dignity, compassion, and grace; taking chances; doing the right and noble thing, against the odds or against the grain.
Submission Deadline: May 15, 2003

NOTE: Semifinalists are selected throughout the submission period, so early entry is encouraged. Submission deadlines are sometimes extended to secure the acquisition of a sufficient quantity and balanced mix of compelling and relevent stories.

Additional volumes are planned. Potential themes include: compassion, gratitude, bereavement, couples, fathers, sisters, twins, blended families, adoptive families, children of divorce, animal lovers, baby boomers, seniors, new parents, newlyweds, and more.

Story Length: 1000-2000 words

Stories must be original, positive, based on real people and events, and in English.

Preference given to anecdotal and emotionally evocative creative nonfiction stories and narrative essays. Please, no flowerly prose, poetry, journalistic articles, testimonials, profiles, or fiction.

Simultaneous and previously published submissions accepted, with the exception of mass-market anthologies.

Aspiring and published writers welcome.

For guidelines: wordsinger@aol.com; SASE to P. O. Box 863, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA; or http://www.cupofcomfort.com

Posted by: Colleen Sell at February 28, 2003 08:13 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Marston, 505-989-7596
Kill Date: March 15, 2004


LIVING STUPID: DUMB THINGS SMART PEOPLE DO
Do You Have Funny Story?

Have you done something that was dumb but really funny? We all have. And now Stephanie Marston, Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Empowered Womans Soul is seeking stories for Living Stupid: Dumb Things Smart People Do. Now you have an opportunity to contribute to this new series by sharing your humorous, true-life experiences.

What makes a good Living Stupid story?

A Living Stupid story is a humorous, true story, that tickles your funny bone or makes you laugh out loud. Its a story about something youve done that later makes you smack your head and laugh at yourself. (It can even be a funny story about someone else.)

Chapter headings will include dumb things people have done At Work, Around the House, At Play, In Love, Outdoors, On Vacation, In Friendship, With Children, With Your Parents, With Your Pets, By Yourself, During Sex. Anecdotes should be fun-loving--the more outrageous the better, but keep it clean and printable.

If you have a humorous life experience and would like to be included in Living Stupid: Dumb Things Smart People Do, send your story to Living Stupid, P.O. Box 31453, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87594-1453. Please keep a copy of your story, as submissions cannot be returned. Or email stories to smarston@earthlink.net. (We prefer emails!) The maximum word count is 1200 words. For each story selected for the book a permission fee of $100 will be paid for the rights. There are no limits on the number of submissions. Stories must be received no later than March 15, 2004.

Posted by: stephanie marston at October 18, 2003 04:54 PM

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