STATUS: I’m behind in reading sample pages in the electronic database. I know there are several people who have waited more than 2 months for a reply. My apologies. I just have a lot of client material that is taking first priority. I’m hoping to get semi back on track after RWA. Thanks for being patient.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? ONE WAY OR ANOTHER by Blondie
This is a rant I had totally forgotten about until now. I sat on a panel at the Tattered Cover—Lodo on Saturday morning for the Lighthouse Writers Litfest.
During the Q&A, several attendees posed a question about their “creative nonfiction” work. This, of course, puzzled the agents and editors sitting on the panel. Why? Because there is no such genre as creative nonfiction. All nonfiction (and fiction for that matter) is creative by nature so calling something “creative nonfiction” doesn’t really define it.
And then I remembered. This is a term often used by universities and writing programs but in publishing, we don’t use it.
If you are writing a memoir, it’s called a memoir.
If you are writing a collection of essays, it’s called a collection of essays.
If you are writing a prescriptive nonfiction self-help book, then that’s what you call it.
Seriously. No agent will ever call and editor and say, “Yo Jane, I’ve got a creative nonfiction project to send your way.”
So I would exorcise this term from your writing/publishing vocabulary (and if you head a writing program, see if you can get that terminology changed). It’s actually a disservice to writers trying to break into the publishing world.
Now, don’t worry. It’s not like I’m going to delete every query that uses it but it will raise an eyebrow and show you up as a novice right when you are trying to demonstrate your savvy and professionalism.