It’s a gorgeous piece, and the standard to which I hold any submission that, on the surface, is about dealing with a medical issue.
This piece about a harrowing rescue mission brings readers inside the world of Search and Rescue teams—we love stories about unusual jobs like this because they allow readers access to an experience they might otherwise never get to know.
I’m always looking for new writers for Narratively’s Memoir section. And by “bigger” I don’t necessarily just mean longer (though sometimes that too), I mean more ambitious.
If you’re interested in submitting your work, it will make both of our lives much easier if you’re crystal clear ahead of time about what exactly I’m looking for. Intellectually ambitious, emotionally ambitious stories that come pouring out of your depths — not the pithy anecdotes you scrape off the top like a pudding skin.
So, here’s a detailed run-down of everything you need to know about sending me your work — everything I’m dying to see more of, and everything I never want to see again: There’s a slew of publications out there that publish 800-word personal essays about every small interaction and realization in your day-to-day life; parenting anecdotes, romantic mishaps, chance encounters that all wrap up neatly with a hard-earned lesson at the end. I want the stories you’ve been trying to figure out how to tell for your whole life.
The complicated, messy, human stories that bring the reader deep into your life.
Here are a few of my favorite Narratively memoir stories, to give you a more specific idea of what I’m looking for: In this reported memoir story, the writer goes searching for a specific Nazi that was a part of her family’s lore.
This is an epic, investigative family story that required real out-in-the-world research.
This is what I mean by something I haven’t seen before. There are no particular subjects I’m most interested in, though I do tend to enjoy a good “my secret past” or “dragging the family skeletons out of the closet” story.
In case you’re wondering, here are some other done-to-death tropes that I never want to see again, with a few rare exceptions if you can really turn them upside down and make them new again:-How a cancer diagnosis changed everything-Parenting a sick child-Death of a parent-The story of your abortion-The story of your time in the Peace Corps-Your “Eat, Pray, Love” story about finding yourself while traveling-The dissolution of a marriage you were sure was going to last-How a certain food always reminds you of home That’s not to say that you can’t write about any of those topics (or that they’re not incredibly important and meaningful experiences), but know that they’ve each been written about approximately 17 million times, and you’ll need to work extra hard to make them feel fresh and surprising. What draws me to a piece is not just the category of the subject matter, but how clear it is that you have something to say.