Back in October, folks here at GWA shared a writing habits quiz that I, being a Buzzfeed quiz junkie*, couldn’t help but take. Turns out I am pencil/paper, no desk indoor, pantser, edit later, early bird, and slow variety of writer. As a slow, edit-later, no-desk writer flying by the seat of my pants, the fact that this is my twelfth entry to a monthly blog is cause for celebration. That, and it’s the holidays.
So to celebrate, I’d like to take a break from my usual solemn approach to this blog and, like a true millennial**, give you a listicle of resources where you might find inspiration, technical guidance, or some combination of both as we continue along this creative nonfiction pilgrimage.
Some of these resources you might know about, though I’ve tried to avoid suggesting the obvious, like the New Yorker or your local library. Hopefully some are new. Given that GWA is a Georgia thing, some resources on this listicle are local or regional. And finally, the content you’ll find at some of these resources matches the tone of the rest of the blog, while the content of others is the kind of thing Jack Skellington might leave under the tree. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.
For fun, I’ve structured this list as a subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month Club. If you don’t get that reference, either ignore the structure or, better still, do some googling. The jellies do not necessarily correspond to the resources they’re listed alongside, as nothing can be perfect, though I have purposefully paired some. Do feel free to make your own connections as you see fit.
With no further ado, here’s my gift that keeps on giving, twelve writerly, creative nonfiction jellies to get you through 2020:
Blackberry preserves: On Being | This list is in no particular order, and I’ve made no effort to sequester the technical from the inspirational, as some of these resources have both. But I am starting with my favorite. Blackberry preserves is (are?) my favorite of the jelly family; On Being is my favorite website.
Muscadine jelly: BrainPickings | Okay, I lied. The rest of this list is in no particular order. But muscadine jelly is my second favorite jelly, and BrainPickings is my second favorite website. Are you fascinated by the ways things are connected to other things and need some fodder for exploring these connections in your own writing? BrainPickings is for you.
Strawberry jam: Poets & Writers | This one gets the job done on multiple fronts, from the technical to the inspirational. Hard to go wrong with this one, no matter the occasion. I particularly recommend their “The Time is Now” weekly prompt collection.
Blueberry preserves: CRWROPPS | Poet, editor, and all-around good person Allison Joseph curates this regularly updated list of various writing and submission opportunities, now in blog format.
Orange marmalade: Entropy | More submission opportunities, posted every other month. I often forget it exists, but it’s good to check in on every so often.
Bourbon plum jam: Sundress | A cool outfit based in Knoxville that does a little bit of everything.
Grape jelly: Creative Nonfiction | Maybe you were expecting this one. It’s a little cliché. But you can’t like jelly, as I do, and not turn to grape from time to time. Same with being a creative nonfiction writer and Creative Nonfiction.
Fig preserves: Bitter Southerner | I’ve got a love/hate relationship with this one. My great-grandmother made perfect fig preserves, not too sweet. Some things in BS are like this—just perfect. But some things are not. Just like you can ruin fig preserves (or any jelly, for that matter) with too much sugar, you can mess up a publication with too much nostalgia (preaching to myself here, too). Be that as it may, this is a good one. I’d rather suffer the occasionally too sweet or overwrought jar of fig preserves than have no fig preserves at all.
Gourd jelly: McSweeney’s | If you’ve never tried this one, might be worth a look—maybe more for commiseration than inspiration, but still. Google “McSweeney’s writing” and you’ll get a trove of relatable material, like one of my recent favorites, “If Other Professionals Talked about Their Jobs the Way Writers Do.”
Boysenberry jam: Literary Hub | A little like BrainPickings, a little like On Being, a little its own thing.
Peach butter: The Tenderness Project | “An experiment in radical empathy curated by Ross Gay and Shayla Lawson. It recognizes the tendernesses that appear in the margins and lights the tiny spaces.” Check it out.
Dandelion jelly: Your own thing | Inspiration, information, and motivation exist everywhere. Find yourself some.
* I’m Fozzie Bear, and, I swear to God, a peanut butter jelly sandwich.
** I identify more as an xennial, caught between generations, but I am technically a millennial—albeit of the Oregon Trail variety—and if forced to choose sides, that’s who I throw in with. Okay?