What’s the Story #58

"There's an element of mystery to the weather; that's what keeps it interesting"

The weather is always surprising us; maybe that’s why we like to talk about it so much.

Of course, we can predict the weather, to some extent—probably more precisely now than ever before in human history—but as Al Roker points out in our interview with him in this issue, the weather is behaving in extreme and sometimes unpredictable ways as a result of climate change. There’s an element of mystery to it; that’s what keeps it interesting.

At Creative Nonfiction, we appreciate the importance of keeping things interesting. Of course, you want a magazine to be at least somewhat predictable, but I think one of the elements that’s helped us (ahem) weather the storms of the past twenty-plus years has been our versatility and adaptability. We’ve always published issues focusing on a wide and unusual range of subjects and themes, and juxtaposing the works of diverse and unexpected writers.

For example: this issue’s interview with Al Roker—who, as it happens, has a new creative nonfiction book out and who talked with Joe Fassler about the challenges and satisfactions of researching and writing true stories. He also talked about the connections between narrative and weather, and the importance of reporting accurately and not overdramatically in the age of pay-per-click. And, of course, he talked about the challenges of forecasting the weather in a changing climate.

Not surprisingly, most of the essays in this issue address our complicated relationship with our changing world. Sonya Huber writes on behalf of the “joint-diseased and chronic,” who can track barometric changes with their bodies; the essay prize runner-up, Ashley Hay, reports from a bus shelter during a sudden deadly storm in Brisbane, wondering, “When would we all—no matter who we were, or where we lived—turn and say, Things really are different around here?” Amaris Ketcham’s electric prize-winning essay—wait until you see it!—weaves together lightning facts and legends. This issue is a bit longer than usual, but that’s because the subject of the weather is so incredibly big.

To try to get a handle on just how big—and, often, how overwhelming—the subject is, we commissioned a special essay from Andy Revkin, the award-winning environmental reporter and founder of the New York Times’s Dot Earth blog. He provides a new and surprising perspective on climate change: “I find global warming doesn’t worry me.”
Speaking of diverse and unexpected writers, you might be interested to know that Andy Revkin is also a songwriter, who often performed with his friend and neighbor Pete Seeger. Andy released his first album of original songs a couple of years ago, and his writing has inspired two films.

One more thing about Andy’s essay is that it is being published simultaneously in another magazine, Issues in Science and Technology. Twenty years ago, who would have imagined that a creative nonfiction essay would find its way into the official publication of the National Academies of Science? But that’s the true story of creative nonfiction—the genre and the magazine. Like the weather, we are always surprising.

In the next year, we’re looking forward to issues on subjects ranging from childhood to marriage, and from learning from nature to joy. Our book projects in progress tackle living with mental illness, becoming a teacher, and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. And, of course, we’ve got lots of other surprises in store, too—stay tuned!

About the Author

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Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is the author and editor of more than thirty books, including You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction–from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, The Best Seat in Baseball: But You Have to Stand, Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather, and the award-winning, Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation.

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One thought on “What’s the Story #58

  1. The very term ‘creative
    The very term ‘creative nonfiction’ speaks volumes for the fluidity of the written word in ‘non-fiction’ contexts. For example, Arthur Frank’s The Wounded Storyteller makes a case for considering the wounded body holistically and as more than the sum of its medicalised parts – but is such a book, located in sound pyschotherapeutic theory, art, science or both? I have always believed that the two are not mutually exclusive and this idea also permeates the evolving field of creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP). In the UK, this can now be studied as a ‘crossover’ subject, students taking an MSc in CWTP (rather than the more traditional MA often associated with creative writing), with research dissertations establishing a social science context for work in the field of creative writing. For a more detailed explanation, do check out http://www.metanoia.ac.uk/training-programmes/special-interest/msc-in-creative-writing-for-therapeutic-purposes/

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