What’s Our Incoming Nonfiction Editor Looking For?

Michelle Gurule, Nonfiction Editor

I am thrilled to take on the role of Blue Mesa Review’s new Nonfiction Editor during such a special time. If you didn’t already know, 2019 marks the 30th year of our literary magazine. What an accomplishment! This year, our staff wants to reconnect with our roots and celebrate what it means to distribute art from the Southwest.

This isn’t a disclaimer that says I’m looking only for Southwestern writers—BMR is fortunate to reach an audience far and wide—but I do want to encourage my local artists to submit, too!

I’ve spent the last year as a Graduate Reader and had the honor of falling in love with the Nonfiction contest winners straight out of the submission queue. I have such fondness for this genre because it is so personal. I know that all genres leave room for exposing some part of our inner-selves, even if it’s hidden in a fiction text as a monster under the bed, or the color of the sky in a poem, but how cool is it to read about someone’s real life experiences in their own voice?

Speaking of voice—I’m obsessed with it! A great way to pull me into a piece is by giving me a good narrator right off the bat. I love humor. I really like it when the speaker is playful, but I’m also a fan of dark, mysterious, intellectual, somber, etc.  I’m pretty open, just as long as you write honestly. If I trust you as my narrator, then I am in for the ride.

I have to admit I’m a fan of narrative, plot-driven pieces. I love when a nonfiction submission reads so story-like that I have to go back to the Submittable page and double-check the genre. I want something to be happening. I want to be engaged with your piece. I want to feel connected to our narrator and other characters through the events taking place on page.

Also, here’s the most overstated writing tip that I can give you: show, don’t tell. If you’ve taken any creative writing class, I can presume that you’ve heard it before, and yet I will tell you once more, but this time nicely, please show rather than tell. I should be doing a little bit of work when I’m reading your submission. I want to be reliant on the information you’ve included in your essay to gauge the specifics of how you felt about it all. Make every line in your writing do the heavy-lifting for you.

Everything I’ve mentioned here focuses on my personal preferences, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to work that falls outside of that framework. The Nonfiction pieces that will sing to me will remind me of how human we all are. They will make me laugh, or cry, or spend the next three weeks in my head wondering about what it means to be a person in this world.

I am so excited to dive into all of the submissions! To all the writers, thank you for sharing your work with Blue Mesa Review. I am honored to read these pages from your life stories.

PS—Fun fact! I have terrible eyes, so please be considerate of the way you submit your work. Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced submissions are the easiest to read, which allows me to focus solely on the quality of your work. Follow our submission guidelines.

Michelle Gurule