Reblog: What The New York Times ‘Guest Essay’ Means for the Future of Creative Nonfiction

When I tell people I’m a writer, they usually ask, “What do you write?”

When I answer, “Creative nonfiction,” or “essays,” here’s the typical reaction:

In a recent post at Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, managing editor and essay teacher Zoë Bossiere celebrates the rebranding of The New York Times “Op-Ed” section. She suggests the newspaper’s small change to “Guest Essays” is an important step “to provide readers a window into the proposals, interpretations, and aspirations that shape our diverse world.”

Bossiere’s brief explanation (after all, she edits Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction) of the essay is one of the best I’ve read. I especially like, “the essay speaks to those quintessentially human parts of ourselves that colder, jargon-laden editorial and journalistic articles can’t quite replicate.”

As I work on the final stages of my forthcoming book, Writer in a Life Vest: Essays from the Salish Sea” (Homebound Publications, 2021), I’m anticipating quizzical looks when I describe it to potential readers. Bossiere and The New York Times affirm for me the importance of the form and why I’m drawn to it.

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