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I’d Write Creative Nonfiction If I Knew What the Heck It Was

By Angela Hallstrom

Note: This piece is a discussion of the literary genre of the personal essay. While I’ve posted it here on a blog, what I’ve written is not a good example of the genre of the blog post. For one, it’s waaaaaay too long. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

One of the things we want to do here at Segullah is “encourage literary talent.” Of course, one of the ways we try to promote good writing is by providing some examples of it here, at the blog . . . but did you realize Segullah isn’t just a blog? Seriously! We also publish this pretty little ink-and-paper novelty called a magazine. It’s a cool contraption because you can read it in the bathroom, on the toilet OR in the tub, two places where you might actually be left alone for five minutes at a stretch. (And yes, technically, it’s true the talented among us can manage a laptop in the bathroom. But paperless revolution be darned, I will always and forever have a magazine on top of every toilet in my house, I solemnly swear.)

I bring this up since I’ve heard that some of you blog-readers are interested in submitting to the magazine. This makes sense because nothing much beats seeing your name in print . . . inside a magazine . . . that you imagine sitting on top of toilets in bathrooms around the world. But what’s keeping you from submitting is this: You feel pretty good about blogging, but you’re not so sure about writing “creative nonfiction,” which is what we magazine publish-y types call any kind of literary writing that both exhibits artistic merit and is based in personal experience. (“Isn’t that what blogging is?” you ask. We’ll get to that.) The problem is you’re not sure if you can write “creative nonfiction” because, well, you don’t know what it IS, really.

Here’s a little secret: nobody knows what creative nonfiction is.

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