Every decision we make, whether as individuals or as a society, involves some risk—whether physical or emotional, economic or legal, social or spiritual. Our comfort level with uncertainty defines not only our choices in any given situation, but how we live.
For a special issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we’re seeking true stories illustrating the ways we balance the threat of loss against the promise of gain.
Possible subjects could be big or small, personal or public. We’re interested in intersections between deeply personal decisions and those that affect larger communities.
- How is risk intertwined with life decisions like entering relationships, starting or ending a pregnancy, or revealing a sexual or gender preference?
- How do the risks associated with social interactions, whether online or in person, affect people’s behavior or speech?
- How does risk relate to deeply held religious and/or political beliefs, especially within a pluralistic society?
- Why do some people actively seek risk, and how does this affect their quality of life?
- How are emerging technologies such as gene editing and artificial intelligence changing the nature of the risks we face?
- How do we think about and approach potentially catastrophic risks such as a large asteroid colliding with the earth, nuclear war, or the possibility of artificial intelligence superseding human intelligence?
Above all, we are looking for vivid narratives—true stories, rich with scene, character, detail, and a distinctive voice—with unique insights into these questions.
Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for best essay and $500 for runner-up, and all essays submitted will be considered for publication.
Guidelines: Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process, and editors may ask for sources and citations.
There is a $20 reading fee, waived for current subscribers.** You can also submit and become a subscriber, extend your subscription, or give a gift subscription by submitting $25 to include a 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction (US addresses only). Multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay, becoming a subscriber is recommended instead) as are entries from outside the United States (though due to shipping costs the rate will be higher if you choose to include a subscription–$43 to Canada or $60 elsewhere).
To submit by regular mail:
Postmark deadline: Monday, November 6, 2017. Mail essay plus a cover letter and entry fee to:
c/o Creative Nonfiction
5119 Coral Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
To submit online:
Deadline to upload files: 11:59 pm Eastern Time, Monday, November 6, 2017.
**Please note that we will check all free submissions against our subscriber database. If you are not an active subscriber, you can become one by submitting through the $25 option (which is a 25% discount off our regular subscription rate). Submissions uploaded through the free option by non-subscribers will not be read.