“Although it sounds a bit affected and presumptuous, “creative nonfiction” precisely describes what the form is all about. The word “creative” refers simply to the use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner. To put it another way, creative nonfiction writers do not make things up; they make ideas and information that already exist more interesting and, often, more accessible.
This general meaning of the term is basically acknowledged and accepted in the literary world; poets, fiction writers—the creative writing community in general—understand and accept the elements of creative nonfiction, although their individual interpretation of the genre’s boundaries may differ. The essential point to acknowledge here is that there are lines—real demarcation points between fiction, which is or can be mostly imagination; traditional nonfiction (journalism and scholarship), which is mostly information; and creative nonfiction, which presents or treats information using the tools of the fiction writer while maintaining allegiance to fact.” ~Lee Gutkind
Yesterday it was brought to my attention that I am not the only one that didn’t realize that what I was writing was a genre in Literature. In fact, my exact words on finding this out last year when my husband handed me the Writing Contests Writers Digest magazine was, “The crap I’ve been spewing out for years is a genre??” I don’t think my writing is crap, I was just surprised and excited! I realized that I had been writing all along, all those years, I just had no idea that what I was writing could be submitted in a category! And in fact a very desired category. Here is an example of what people are looking for using the contest I had just submitted my work to recently. This one has already expired, it is just an example.
“ANNIE DILLARD AWARD IN CREATIVE NON-FICTION – The Bellingham Review seeks literature of a palpable quality: poems, stories, and essays so beguiling they invite us to come closer, look deeper, touch, sniff and taste their essence. We hunger for a kind of writing that nudges the limits of form or executes traditional forms exquisitely.”
I had never submitted any writing because I didn’t have the time to sit down and write my fiction, I couldn’t exactly write the monotone non-fiction and I had so much poetry that I would all the sudden hate everything I had written before it was time to submit. However, I loved my stories I had written about my childhood and other people had loved them to. I have been writing them for years for others to read never having known that they were the key; I had a writing style, I had a genre, I had a place and I never knew until now.
We were discussing this, Kristen and I, when I thought that perhaps there were other people here that may not know that what they are writing is a category and that they also have a place. Even though I was in the same boat it made me sad to hear stories about how people had been writing for years and years without anyone having seen it. Seen it as a story, a creatively written non-fiction story that takes a lot of time, effort and love to write. So I wanted to scream at all of you out there! You have a place! You have a genre! You have a style! And from here on out I will be placing up the contests that are available to enter so that you can also enter. You may never win, you may never get published, but as Kristen of CocoandGigi said, “… it is just nice to be writing FOR SOMETHING.”
So I leave you with the first of the contests, it would be really nice if we could make a group out of it! So if more than three people want it, I’ll make a group on Facebook for us. This way we can have like-minded people double check our work, list new contests and ultimately be excited for each other; because sometimes we really need encouragement.
“THE DOROTHY CHURCHILL CAPPON CREATIVE NONFICTION AWARD: New Letters, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 5101 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City MO 64110. (816) 235-1168. FAX: (816)235-2611. E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org CONTACT: Ashley Kaine PRIZE: First Place: $1,500 and publication in a volume of New Letters; runner-up will receive a copy of a recent book of poetry or fiction courtesy of BkMk Press. ENTRY FEE: 15 (includes cost of a 1-year subscription). GUIDELINES: Contest is offered annually for unpublished work to discover and reward emerging writers and to give experienced writers a place to try new genres. Acquires first North American serial rights. Open to any writer. Guidelines of SASE or online. DEADLINE: Third week of May. All entries will receive consideration for publication in future editions of New Letters.“
The deadline is May 18th. I suggest you check out New Letters website for more information and to look at their guidelines. I wish you all the best of luck and I hope we can get a group together! I’ll be looking for more of these. I only had time to get this one up before heading off to be Mom. Just remember this, my husband said this to me when I said I really wanted to be a writer. He said, “You are already a writer.” And so I am, and so are you.