Call for Nonfiction Submissions/How You Know You’re a Nonfiction Writer
1. You know you’re a nonfiction writer if there are moments you cannot shake. Granted, we all have them. Mine include the night down by the ferry, when I sat beneath the one blinking stoplight at 11 p.m., feet propped on my dashboard, a.c. running. I listened to the late night fisherman cast their lines and reel their reels until I fell asleep, only waking when the ferryman rapped on the window at dawn; “Are you crossing this morning, Miss?”
They include the day Will and I ran along the river, right before a summer storm. The soft soil gave way under our Nikes, the cornfields undulated in the wind, the stalks roared until Will stopped and shouted, “God. Sounds like Ragnarok.” And I looked up the river half expecting to see the ship of nails because he was right.
2. You know you’re a nonfiction writer if you feel compelled to write these moments down, not only after the fact, but during. You separate yourself from the scene and become a viewer instead of a player. You have had a Tuesday morning tangled in someone else’s comforter. You have replayed in your mind the slight dilation of his pupils, the sharp curves of his shoulder blades, the wisps of hair that drift across his forehead. You have sat, Indian style, and watched him sleep because he is the most beautiful person you have ever seen. But then you’ve pulled yourself away from the sleeping boy, and grabbed a napkin and a pen to write the moment down, because it would be unbearable to forget.
3. You know you’re a nonfiction writer if you need to get these moments just right, and while you come close, the finished product will never quite suffice.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, send me your best characters, your little deaths, your early morning runs, your raw memories. There need not be any concrete exposition, climax or resolution. Send me your honest thoughts, your burnt toast, your sibling rivalries, your Tuesday morning comforters. I’ll read them.
E-mail submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is January 30, 2012. I expect great things.
Your nonfiction editor,