Creative Nonfiction Discussion Forum, Anyone?

Essay Writing (by StarbuckGuy)

One of the niftier things I did last year was to register the domain personalessays.org. I have, for some time, been thinking about creating a site for the discussion and posting/linking of short creative nonfiction pieces and techniques, for interested writers and readers. This is my pitch to see if anyone is interested.

Why start a forum? After checking out various writing forums on the Web, I’ve come to the conclusion that an informal discussion forum devoted to creative nonfiction could be useful. Although there are many excellent writers sites on the Net, most of them are focused on fiction writing. Essays, if mentioned at all, are usually given sidebar status. There is a site called Creative Nonfiction, but it appears to be academically oriented and pitched at a more formal level than I had in mind.

I like writing essays and I like reading them, whether they’re written in the sweeping, crystalline prose of a Rebecca Solnit, or the witty, meandering style of a Joseph Epstein. From Montaigne to blog postings, there’s a broad range of creative nonfiction writing I find appealing.

By creative nonfiction, I mean nonfiction writing that has in it some of the elements of fiction and poetry — things like interesting metaphors, poetic language, dialog, tension, story telling, feelings, mood, a sense of place, a sense of wonder, surprise. As the Wikipedia article states, “forms within this genre include personal essays, memoir, travel writing, food writing, biography, literary journalism, and other hybridized essays.”

So, I like reading essays and I like writing them, and I’d enjoy hanging out at a place where like-minded readers and writers could gather to gather to post links to their writing, to discuss creative nonfiction styles and techniques, and to alert others to some great writing they’ve discovered.

If such a forum appeals to you, please drop me a note at gene.wilburn [at] gmail.com or leave a comment here so I can gauge if there’s sufficient interest.

Personal essayist of the world, unite? We have nothing to lose but our strained metaphors.

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About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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18 Responses to Creative Nonfiction Discussion Forum, Anyone?

  1. Dave Barr says:

    Hey, Gene, you read my mind. I was about to ask where you had been going with the idea of an essayist website.

    Yes to the forum idea.

    -Dave

  2. Linda M Au says:

    Gene, this definitely sounds like a great idea. I’ve been toying with a memoir of sorts from a particularly horrible time in my life — based on diaries I kept at the time — and never quite know what to do with it.

    I also have the sketches and chapter headings for a nonfiction book on overcoming betrayal that I take out every so often, look at, tweak, and then put away again in favor of other projects.

    I think these are both worthwhile projects, but the lack of “fellow travelers” often makes me give up and put them away indefinitely.

    Am curious to see how this develops…

    Linda

  3. Gene says:

    Dave, you’ve supported the idea from the first time I mentioned it over a pint at the local. Thanks!

  4. Gene says:

    Linda, thanks for the interest! Most of the creative folk I meet are more interested in discussing fiction — and I understand that — but I think creative nonfiction deserves more focus.

  5. adam says:

    Yeah, Gene, could be good, I used to, and still do now I think about it, like essay or short-piece writing so that might make me a candidate for your consideration. I have to say that I have forgotten all the grammar I ever knew and as for punctuation, I just throw these little bits of type in to make the thing look petty. Or if I need to catch my breath, you might get a comma. Or a full-stop if I am really puffed. Spell-check is worth its weight in iron-ore (the Chinese can’t get enough of the stuff and we are giddily digging up Australia, largely made of the stuff).

    Please let me know what you do about this. Regards, Adam

  6. I’m interested! I’ve been in non-fiction mode for a few years now.

  7. Liz McKey says:

    As someone who has worked as a writer/editor in nonfiction for more than 25 years, I’d love such a forum.

  8. Gene says:

    Adam, I’d be delighted if you’d participate. You sling a might good word!
    .
    Cecilia, thanks for the interest!
    .
    Liz, thanks. Your experience with nonfiction writing would be a terrific assett.

  9. Brian says:

    I’ll be happy to contribute in any way I can.

  10. Gene says:

    Brian, thanks kindly.

  11. Steve Brannon says:

    Hello, Gene.
    Has the forum reached its go-ahead point? I hope so.

    Steve

  12. Gene says:

    Steve, indeed it has. I’m delighted with the reception the concept has met with. I’ve started work on the forum software specs and will soon need a few folks to help with testing the site.

    Gene

  13. Steve Brannon says:

    Great!

    I’ll be happy to be a tester if you need. By the looks of it, you won’t have trouble find additional volunteers.

    Steve

  14. Dave Barr says:

    Congratulations again, Gene, on your fantastic output this month. This is professional level output and not at all easy to achieve. I’ve read accounts by more than one newspaper columnist on how hard it is to turn out 800 words a day.

    In advance of the launch of the forum, I have a finding to contribute:

    http://www.tc.umn.edu/~melan002/Writing%20the%20Creative%20Essay.htm

    On this page, Dr. Carter Meland, from the University of Minnesota, summarizes some of the suggestions for creative essay writing provided by Philip Gerard in his book, ‘Creative Nonfiction.’ Great material, setting some high standards to live up to.

    -Dave

  15. Dave Barr says:

    While browsing Amazon, I came across this title, edited by Philip Gerard: Writing Creative Nonfiction (2001)

    Check out the descriptions from Amazon.com and Library Journal. Reader reviews are also very positive. This one sounds delicious!

    -Dave

  16. Gene says:

    Dave, thanks kindly. I needed a kickstart to my public writing and this has provided it.

    Those are great references. We’re planning to launch the site on Monday, and I hope you’ll consider adding them!

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