I’ve been the Creative Nonfiction Editor at Connotation Press for a number of years now, and I’ve helped to edit two other literary magazines in the past. I’ve always been aware of the obvious: The strength of the writers I publish has nothing to do with me. The process of editing or “curating” is one of discovery and recognition, one of arrangement and presentation. Yes, there’s often a great deal and back and forth with an author before publication. But a surprising number of pieces arrive fully formed. That was the case with all four of the selections this issue. At these times, there’s very little for me to do but express my gratitude for the privilege of publishing the work of so many talented writers.
If you enjoy your creative nonfiction as a straightforward, dramatic, realistic, confessional, first-person narrative, you’re going to love “Gal Friday” by Diane Kristen Martin. This one should be made into a movie. It has it all. . . . Okay, I was about to list everything it has. Well, why don’t you just read it instead? You’ll experience everything it has—and you are going to love everything it has.
In “From the Diaphragm,”Jeffrey Condran mixes the personal, the scholarly, and the dramatic without once losing his deftness or his balance. In the old days, this sort of accomplishment used to be referenced as a “virtuoso performance” or “tour de force,” though Condran’s postmodern concerns certainly didn’t exist in those days. Never mind. You should hop aboard for the ride—it weaves and dips and rises and zooms through some amazing and amazingly divergent terrain without once making you seasick—it just enlightens and thrills you.
Lucinda Weatherby’s The Baby-Snatchers manages to be earnest and heartfelt and highly emotional without being smarmy or cloying or maudlin, which says a great deal about the author’s artistry. It’s one thing to have feelings—it’s an entirely other order of being to be able to convey them truthfully in a piece of writing, so that those feelings are evoked in the reader. Regardless of genre, that is a difficult thing to do. And it is done brilliantly here.
When I was a creative writing student thirty years ago, I was always arguing with the people I referred to as “the subject matter critics.” I didn’t believe in judging a story by its subject matter, and I still don’t. “Matter”by Ashley Wells, on the surface, is about horses, but you don’t have to be into horses to get something valuable from it. Try it and see!
Finally, I’m always looking for new essays to publish. I invite you to submit nonfiction on a topic of your choice. I’m looking for creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays—with the understanding that these categories often overlap. Up to 10,000 words. Please submit work directly to me at [email protected]. I very much look forward to reading your work.