Lessons Learned from the Nieman Narrative Nonfiction Conference (I)

I have just returned from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the 2005 Nieman Narrative Nonfiction Conference, and I’ll be happy to tell you about some things I learned in this and subsequent posts (and you can look forward to a more coherent summary in the next Practicing Writer newsletter, too).

Here’s the first piece of news:

If you’re one of the many readers (and writers) who mourned the passing of DoubleTake you’ll no doubt be pleased to discover that the magazine is back. Represented by its new editors at the conference, DoubleTake/Points of Entry is “the marriage of a magazine (DoubleTake—quarterly from 1995-2003) that featured narrative stories, essays and narrative/documentary photography grounded in the liberal arts, and an academic journal (Points of Entry: Cross-Currents in Storytelling—annual 2003-2005) that featured narrative and professional/scholarly essays about narrative writing.”

Now published bi-annually from its offices in the English department at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, the magazine also has an online home here. That’s where you can learn more about current content and submission guidelines. (The only bad news here is financial: the magazine is pretty expensive [a single copy costs $15; an individual subscription is $25, which provides two issues], and it’s not paying its contributors.)

More Paying Short Story Markets

Well, my job is done. It was time to update the Directory of Paying Short Story Markets, and as of this evening, the latest edition is online and available!

The previous version was published in August. As in summertime. As in four months ago. It’s unbelievable how quickly things change in this field. I update these market directories at least three times each year, because I want to make sure anyone buying them obtains the most up-to-date information I can possibly provide. It’s part of the perfectionist in me, I guess.

This new directory is a case in point. Several publications included in the August edition (including Conversely) are now on hiatus–with no clear hiatus end date in sight. So while I’m sad to see them go, they’ve been cut from the new version.

And some publications have moved to new addresses (both on the Web and in their “real” offices somewhere on the planet). You need to have that information, too.

Despite the “cuts,” this e-book is still even more packed with publishing possibilities than the one it replaces. There are now 110 print and online publications included, all of which tell you up front (that is to say, online) what they’re looking for and how much they’ll pay for it. You won’t have to e-mail for the guidelines or guess how much these paying markets actually pay.

But enough blabbing. Go check it out for yourself. You can even download a free preview of the new e-book, complete with sample listings, right here!

A Basic Definition of Creative Nonfiction

Another nugget from the MediaBistro Toolbox, this time a basic explanation of creative nonfiction courtesy of Lee Gutkind.

My favorite part of his statement is this:

“And there are two types of stories. One type is one’s own story. The other type is telling the stories of others.”

Got that? Sometimes it seems to me that some writers believe “creative nonfiction” is synonymous with (and limited to) “memoir.” It isn’t! Back in the day some of us learned about “creative nonfiction” as “literary journalism.” Sure, there are plenty of wonderful memoirs/first-person essays out there, and I certainly enjoy reading them. But please, let’s not forget that there’s more to creative nonfiction than memoir.

Look to hear more about nonfiction (specifically, “narrative nonfiction”) from me in a few days. I’m volunteering at the 2005 Nieman Narrative Conference in Boston. I spent four hours last night preparing folders, and there’s another folder-preparation session in store for me before I get to the actual event on Friday. But it’s all going to be worth it–what a line-up they’ve got….

How to Write an Op-Ed (and Where to Send It)

If you’re writing opinion essays (and want to be publishing them), you might want to check out this Op-Ed Resource from the DeWitt Wallace Center at Duke University. The good news is that it offers plenty of tips for writing a good piece (and representative op-eds with explanations of why they’re effective). And you’ll also find plenty of information about newspapers, magazines, and websites that publish op-eds.

The not-so-good news is that the site doesn’t seem to have been updated very recently, so you’ll definitely need to double-check (and maybe “Google” to find new links for) the market information provided.

(Of course, if you’re seeking potential homes for your essays you can also consult our own Directory of Paying Essay Markets.)