Here's a little Christmas present that was waiting for me in my mail box today from a reader, extolling the wisdom of blogging agent Kristen Nelson. Here's what the note says:
FYI, You write: I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction
Kristen Nelson at Pub Rants writes: "Several attendees posed a question about their 'creative nonfiction' work. This, of course, puzzled the agents and editors sitting on the panel. Why? Because there is no such genre as creative nonfiction. All nonfiction (and fiction for that matter) is creative by nature so calling something 'creative nonfiction' doesn’t really define it. And then I remembered. This is a term often used by universities and writing programs but in publishing, we don’t use it. If you are writing a memoir, it’s called a memoir. If you are writing a collection of essays, it’s called a collection of essays.If you are writing a prescriptive nonfiction self-help book, then that’s what you call it. No agent will ever call and editor and say, 'Yo Jane, I’ve got a creative nonfiction project to send your way.' So I would exorcise this term from your writing/publishing vocabulary (and if you head a writing program, see if you can get that terminology changed). It’s actually a disservice to writers trying to break into the publishing world. Now, don’t worry. It’s not like I’m going to delete every query that uses it but it will raise an eyebrow and show you up as a novice right when you are trying to demonstrate your savvy and professionalism."
It apears that Nelson has never heard of the most prestigious nonfiction journal around, which is entitled, hello, Creative Nonfiction. (Incidentally, I am proud to report that I have had the good grace to be chosen for publication by Lee Gutkind and the editors at CN.) I also will continue to call my nonfiction work creative because I think the above reasoning is ridiculous puffery used to fill up a blog. BTW, I very much doubt that the term "creative nonfiction" has ever been responsible for any of my esteemed rejections. (Raise an eyebrow all you want: me no care.)