An Assignment for an Adventurous Writer

This sounds fun–and a little scary. To me, at any rate. I am not brave enough to try to take this on, but maybe you are.

Here’s the deal. Scuba Diving magazine seeks “a talented writer to become a certified recreational diver—at our expense—and then tell the world all about the experience in a ‘great read` feature. Your article will be the centerpiece of a newsstand special designed to introduce non-divers to the sport.”

They’ll pay to send you to a resort, they’ll pay for the training, and they’ll pay for the piece.

“We want a great—make that insanely great—personal narrative writer. Someone who can tell the story of their transformation from an absolute novice to a certified diver with a funny and insightful feature-length piece that will inspire others to take up the sport.”

You must apply for this assignment by January 27. Full details posted over at

L’Affaire James Frey

A few people have asked me what I think about the current literary scandals, particularly the memoir-oriented James Frey case. Actually, a few of those who asked did so admitting they could already guess my take on it. They know I’ve never had much patience for what I consider nontruth in nonfiction. And by the way, I still consider memoir a sub-genre of nonfiction, with all nonfiction’s attendant characteristics, rewards, and responsibilities.

Maybe that explains, in part, why I really haven’t wanted to take on l’Affaire Frey myself. And maybe today’s Publishers Lunch summarizes even more clearly why I haven’t focused on the subject here: “It would be an understatement to say there is an abundance of stories on James Frey, his Larry King appearance last night, and Oprah’s dramatic last-minute blessing of the ’emotional truth’ of however it is that he told his tale. We presume that if you’re interested, there’s little new we can tell you, just as our subjective assumption is that you’ve probably already formed a firm opinion on the matter.”

Yes. Which isn’t to say that I won’t comment later, once I’ve had more time to think about all this. Maybe I’ll decide I have something original/potentially new and interesting and enlightening to contribute. I’m also looking forward to Mary Karr’s editorial on the subject, which, according to today’s PW Daily, is in the works.

But for the moment, I’m confident that you’re following the news yourself. In the unlikely event that you aren’t, here are just a few recommended readings:

A transcript of last night’s Larry King Live Interview with James Frey;

An editorial published in the Los Angeles Times;

And though it’s dated (from 2003), this article, “Memoirs: The Novel Approach to Facts”, published in The Age, is also highly relevant.


Here are two articles/commentaries from today’s New York Times with which wholly agree. You’ll need to register to read the full pieces; registration is free.

1) Randy Kennedy’s “My True Story, More or Less, and Maybe Not at All,” which appears on the cover page of the “Week in Review” section.

2) Mary Karr’s op-ed, “His So-Called Life”.

New Travel E-zine Seeks Published Authors

Another market lead from Jen Leo at This time Ms. Leo spreads the word about Perceptive Travel. According to its writer’s guidelines, this e-zine “will be published bi-monthly, with four to six articles per issue, plus at least one travel-related book review and a few world music reviews.” Note that the editor is seeking submissions only from published book authors/anthology editors. Pay, for now, is $50 per article, on acceptance.

Go (Write) Wild!

You have until March 15, 2006, to submit a (previously unpublished) essay to the Second Annual Wild Iowa Essay Project, which “encourages thoughtful, effective writing about the wild in Iowa. The Project is not a contest so much as an organized opportunity to inspire people of all ages to think and write about what the wild is and could be in Iowa.”

According to the essay and submission guidelines (which you of course need to read in full), entries should address “one or more of the following questions. Authors are encouraged to use specific examples and personal experiences.

*What does/should ‘wildness’ mean to Iowans?
*How have we moved away from the wild in Iowa, and what harm has that caused?
*Where does the wild still exist in Iowa now?
*How can Iowans ‘rewild’?
*What would a ‘wilder Iowa’ look like?”

Note that there are two submission categories, “Youth” and “Adult.” Entries “may be in any prose essay form, ranging from expository to creative nonfiction.” Word limit: 3,000 words.

Selected essays will win cash awards “of up to $300.” Winning essays that are submitted electronically will be published on the Wild Iowa Essay Project website. There’s no entry fee.