Dear Friends,

This time last year, we were settling into a new office space, imagining all the events and workshops we would be able to hold there.

To say the least, 2020 was not the year we had planned or hoped for.

And yet, although the past year was terrifying and difficult in so many ways, all of us at CNF are grateful to be here together (albeit apart) at the start of a new year. All of you who subscribed, donated, bought books, took online courses, and/or joined us for webinars have not only helped our organization—and all of us as individuals—stay afloat financially, but you’ve also provided us with much-needed routine and purpose. We can’t thank you enough for that.

We’ve also been so glad to hear from so many people for whom CNF provided a bright spot—an essay that struck a chord, a webinar that provided inspiration—and we’re glad we can continue that important work.

As we head into the New Year, Creative Nonfiction #74 is on its way to subscribers, with a fantastic mix of essays about moments of clarity—sudden realizations, things that can’t be unsaid, and power dynamics laid bare. On our website, you can read Lee’s intro to the issue, along with Aurelia Kessler’s illuminating “El Valle, 1991,” a memory of an early lesson in strength and fragility.

If you’re hungry for even more reading material, just a reminder that it is 100 percent FREE to join both the Sunday Short Reads and ICYMI Monthly email lists.

And if one of your resolutions is to send out more work, don’t forget our upcoming submission deadlines: Experiments in Nonfiction (Jan 11) and New Nonfiction by Older Writers (Feb 22). 

Stay safe and healthy, friends. And here’s to the New Year.
Hattie Fletcher
Managing Editor

P.S. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and know a teen who is interested in writing nonfiction, I hope you’ll help spread the word about our upcoming Writing the Tough Stuff workshop series, running virtually on Thursday evenings in February and March and led by Sarah Shotland. This is a free opportunity for students in grades 9–12; applications are due January 15. 


True stories, well told.

Creative Nonfiction #74: "Moments of Clarity" out now.

Our new issue, Creative Nonfiction #74: "Moments of Clarity," features stories of sudden realizations, things that can’t be unsaid, and power dynamics laid bare: a seventeen-year-old flirts her way into trouble; a daughter’s offhand remark shatters a family’s fragile peace; an employee quietly decides HR’s focus on diversity is actually kind of racist, and more. 

Also in this issue: epiphanies in nonfiction, legal advice for writers, and tiny truths.

Subscribe today →

Current calls for submissions

Other opportunities for writers



Connect & learn

CNF's webinars and self-guided courses can help you get motivated, find a writing community, and more. Here's what's coming up:

Registration closes 24 hours before each event.




Join CNF's growing online writing community

Since 2011, our online classes have helped thousands of writers tell their stories better. Our 5- and 10-week classes offer firm deadlines, a flexible schedule that fits your needs, and feedback to help you keep writing and improving your work.

This winter, we're offering 11 different classes designed to help you achieve your writing goals. Here's how we can help you:

FUNDAMENTALS—open to all levels.

ADVANCED courses.

YEARLONG writing tracks.

[Note: The Advanced Flash Essay; Foundations of Creative Nonfiction; How to Write Angry, Honestly; Pathway to the MemoirThirty-Minute Memoir; Writing the Lyric Essay; and Writing the Personal Essay classes are full.]


Winners from CNF’s ongoing micro-essay contest

Our daily Twitter contest is a great way to get your work into Creative Nonfiction. To join, follow us @cnfonline and tag your submissions #cnftweet.

Here are a few of our recent favorites:

@evorbachcollins: Her 3rd grade teacher took them into the woods to learn about survival. Brought deer meat to school and taught them to render fat, scraping the hide with crude tools. For as long as she lived, my daughter never again ate meat.

1:43 PM · Dec 10, 2020

@WilliamReagan: With nearly a year of games cancelled, mother nature is steadily reclaiming the infield of the local park's baseball diamond, second base slowly sinking into the moss and weeds.

10:02 PM · Dec 12, 2020

@lindseydjones: I had forgotten how, as a teenager, I crawled from my bedroom window at night onto the roof eave overlooking our swimming pool, that undulating square of aqua lit up under warm Georgia sky. I understand now the way I wanted to get out of our house but still touch it.

9:00 AM · Dec 21, 2020

@ChrisGNguyen: A friend says she'll leave a Christmas card in my mailbox so I make one for her to find there too. I pen wishes for health and happiness, underlining "health" 3 times. Later, I open the card from her. "Joy and health in 2021," she's written, with 3 lines under "health".

2:42 PM · Dec 22, 2020


What we’re reading

+ Lit Hub: Lauren Martin on Realizing Writing Advice Applies to Life, Too
+ Brevity: Your Mother Is a Real Character
+ CNF Podcast: Lee Gutkind on Magical Moments, the Rope Test, and My Last Eight Thousand Days
+ Lit Mag News Roundup [Email Newsletter]

From the Sunday Short Reads flash essay email

+ "Decomposure" by Adriane Tharp
+ "Let’s Say" by Ona Gritz
+ "O Holy Night" by Jess D. Taylor
+ "Family Portrait" by Laura S. Distelheim

Staff recommendations

+ Check out books we're enjoying over at


FREE MASTERCLASS. Finish Your Nonfiction Book in 2021: 3 Shifts You Need to Make. Lay the right foundation and accomplish this milestone goal. Hosted by Janna Maron, editor of Under the Gum Tree literary magazine. - Sign up here.

Take your writing practice to the next level in part-time MA/MFA programs at Northwestern University. Learn from celebrated writers such as Rebecca Makkai, Juan Martinez, and Ed Roberson. - Learn more. 

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The Creative Nonfiction Foundation inspires and supports writers of true stories by providing publishing venues and educational opportunities for a diverse range of creative nonfiction writing and writers; serves as a strong advocate for the genre, helping define the ethics and parameters of the field; and aims to broaden the genre's impact not only in the publishing world but also in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

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