For an upcoming issue, Creative Nonfiction is seeking new essays about JOY.
Too often the moments that move us to write are bleak ones—stories of loss, hardship, or learning through painful interactions. For this issue we’re looking for well-crafted narratives that explore the brighter moments in life, those that teach and enlighten us through their beauty or humor.
Your tale of joy need not revolve around ecstatic delight or a once-in-a-lifetime moment; we are equally interested in thoughtfully-written pieces about finding pleasure in small things or unexpected places, and in works that highlight moments of joy in the midst of otherwise difficult circumstances. We also welcome less common approaches to this topic: the science of happiness, the history of some particularly joyful event, pop-cultural manifestations of bliss, and so on.
Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. They should approach the topic of joy sincerely—we’re not looking for a bitter or ironic take on happiness—but should at the same time avoid sentimental, uncomplicated “feel-good” stories. We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice; all essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate.
Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for Best Essay and $500 for runner-up. All essays will be considered for publication in a special "Joy" issue of the magazine to be published in winter 2017.
Guidelines: Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. There is a $20 reading fee, though current subscribers may submit for free!* You can also submit and become a subscriber, extend your subscription, or give a gift subscription by submitting $25 to include a 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction(US addresses only). Multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay) as are entries from outside the United States (though due to shipping costs we cannot offer the subscription deal). All proceeds will go to prize pools and printing costs.
A note about fact-checking: Essays accepted for publication in Creative Nonfictionundergo a rigorous fact-checking process. To the extent your essay draws on research and/or reportage (and it should, at least to some degree), CNF editors will ask you to send documentation of your sources and to help with the fact-checking process. We do not require that citations be submitted with essays, but you may find it helpful to keep a file of your essay that includes footnotes and/or a bibliography.
You may submit essays online or by regular mail:
By regular mail
Postmark deadline May 16, 2016.
Please send manuscript, accompanied by cover letter with complete contact information including the title of the essay and word count; SASE or email for response; and payment to:
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Deadline to upload files: 11:59 pm Eastern Time, May 16, 2016 .
To submit, please click the appropriate link:
Reading fee + 4-issue subscription ($25; US submitters only)
Reading fee only ($20)
Free submission (current subscribers only*)