Special Programs

The Best of Creative Nonfiction Conference (2013 Archived Landing Page)

May 25, 2013 9:30 AM to May 26, 2013 4:00 PM
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center
805 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

A 2-day event dedicated to the art and craft of memoir, magazine writing, personal essays, and more.

Learn about the marketplace for creative nonfiction, explore techniques for keeping yourself motivated, and pick up concrete tips for polishing and submitting your work for publication. Plus, get individual feedback on your work in a small-group writing workshop on Sunday.

Presenters include: Lee Gutkind, Jane Bernstein, Theresa Brown, Hattie Fletcher, Anjali Sachdeva, and Leslie Rubinkowski.

Register for Saturday, Sunday, or the entire weekend.

$150 for one day / $250 for entire weekend (2-day & Sunday registration closes May 10)

Complete schedule below.
Traveling to Pittsburgh for the conference? Hotel and transportation info available here.

PLEASE NOTE: The last day to register for Sunday workshops is Friday, May 17th by 5 pm EST, and participants must also have their materials for the workshop (their own essay, chapter, or essay/book excerpt of 3,000 words or less) posted by that day. Instructions for posting materials will be sent after participants have registered for the conference.

ON SITE REGISTRATION: Conference registration for the Saturday talks will be available online until 5 pm EST on Friday, May 24 for $150 per person, and at the conference at a rate of $165 per person. No discounts or coupon codes will be honored for on-site registration on Saturday.

*Cancellation Policy*

Registered conference participants can cancel their registration any time until 5 pm EST on Friday, May 17th and will receive a refund minus a $50 processing fee. From 5:01 pm EST on Friday, May 17th until 5:00 pm EST on Friday, May 24th there is a $100 fee for cancellation. Participants can also choose to transfer their full credit (with no fees deducted) to a Creative Nonfiction online class, or to another person who wishes to attend the conference but has not yet registered. No refunds or transfers of credit will be granted after 5 pm EST on Friday, May 24th.

Saturday, May 25th

9:00-10:00  Check-in and breakfast
Join us for coffee and bagels and pick up your conference materials.

10:00-12:30  Why True Stories Matter
Creative Nonfiction editor and founder Lee Gutkind talks about the art and craft of creative nonfiction writing, and the power of narrative.

12:30-2:00  Lunch
Explore Pittsburgh's Cultural District. There are many restaurants near the conference venue.

2:00-2:50  Overcoming Writer’s Block
Anjali Sachdeva, Creative Nonfiction’s previous Director of Online Education, discusses the best strategies to keep yourself writing on a regular basis, and provides tips for getting over creative blocks in your current writing project.

3:00-4:00  The Literary Landscape: Creative Nonfiction Today
(panel discussion)

Lee Gutkind, Jane Bernstein, Theresa Brown, and Hattie Fletcher discuss the creative nonfiction market, from literary magazines to mainstream book publishers to newspapers. What are editors looking for? How can writers find their niche? With time for questions from the audience.

4:15-5:15  Why Memoir, Why Not?: Writing About Yourself and Others
Memoirist Jane Bernstein examines the techniques, philosophies, and potential pitfalls of personal writing for those sharing their own life stories or the stories of people close to them.

5:30-7:00  Literary Happy Hour
Have a drink on us as you unwind with your fellow writers and the editors of Creative Nonfiction.

Register for Saturday Only »
Register for Entire Weekend »

Sunday, May 26th

On Sunday participants can choose either a morning or afternoon workshop.** Participants who spend the morning in workshop will attend Hattie Fletcher’s talk on publishing in the afternoon, and afternoon workshop participants will attend the same talk in the morning. Workshop groups will be small, with a maximum of 8 participants, and each workshop member will submit a manuscript of up to 3,000 words for the instructor and other workshop participants to review prior to the conference. The deadline for sending manuscripts will be Friday, May 10.

10:00-12:00  Small Group Writing Workshops
With Jane Bernstein, Theresa Brown, Anjali Sachdeva, and Leslie Rubinkowski

10:00-12:00  Polishing Your Prose
Hattie Fletcher, Creative Nonfiction’s Managing Editor, discusses publishing from an editor’s point of view, and reviews some best practices for writers pursuing publication. She will also discuss practical techniques for polishing your work before submitting it for publication.

12:00-1:00 Lunch
Explore Pittsburgh's Cultural District. There are many restaurants near the conference venue.

1:00-3:00  Small Group Writing Workshops
Participants who did not participate in a morning workshop will attend an afternoon workshop.**

1:00-3:00  Polishing Your Prose
Participants who did not attend this talk in the morning will attend this session.

3:00-4:00 Special Reception for Creative Nonfiction Online Students
Past and currently enrolled online students are invited to join in casual conversation about their current projects and the writing life with Creative Nonfiction instructors Anjali Sachdeva and Leslie Rubinkowski.

Register for Sunday Only »
Register for Entire Weekend »

*Past Creative Nonfiction online students and those who enroll for upcoming classes before the conference begins receive a 20% discount on their conference registration.  Use code PGHCONF20 at checkout.
**Participants can choose to attend both a morning and an afternoon workshop for an additional fee, space permitting.  Please email Anjali Sachdeva for more information.


Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” is the author and editor of more than 25 books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication there.

Jane Bernstein is the author of the memoirs Rachel in the World; Loving Rachel: A Family's Journey from Grief; and Bereft: A Sister’s Story. Her essays have been published in such places as the New York Times Magazine, Ms., and Prairie Schooner, and she wrote the screenplay for the Warner Brothers movie Seven Minutes in Heaven. She has been awarded two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Fiction, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships, one in fiction and one in Media Arts, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Creative Writing, and a Fulbright Fellowship in 2004 to teach creative writing at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. She teaches at Carnegie Mellon University.

Theresa Brown, RN, is the author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between. She received her BSN from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in English from the University of Chicago. Brown is a regular contributor to the New York Times blog “Well.” Her essay “Perhaps Death is Proud; More Reason to Savor Life” is included in Best American Science Writing 2009 and Best American Medical Writing 2009. Brown is a board member of the Center for Health Media and Policy at the Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College.

Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction since 2005. She has been a coordinating editor for the Best Creative Nonfiction series, published by W.W. Norton, and is co-editor, with Lee Gutkind, of Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction.

Anjali Sachdeva worked for five years as a journalist in the United States and the Republic of Ireland before earning her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and is a regular instructor at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Her recent work has appeared in Sonora Review, Gulf Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. She has previously served as the Director of Online Education at Creative Nonfiction.

Leslie Rubinkowski is the author of Impersonating Elvis and teaches in Goucher College's MFA Program in Creative Nonfiction. She has also taught at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and worked for six newspapers over a twenty-year journalism career. Her essays have appeared in Harper's, River Teeth, and Chautauqua.