Editor Spotlight: Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is founder and editor of, Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary journal to publish nonfiction, exclusively.   He is editor of Best Creative Nonfiction, an annual anthology and author of Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, both published by W.W. Norton.  In all, Gutkind has written 15 books, and edited 18 collections and volumes in the past 25 years.  In celebration of his impact on the genre, In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, was published in 2004 by W.W. Norton.  Book List called In Fact “an electrifying anthology . . . an exciting and defining creative nonfiction primer.”  Lee Gutkind is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University.

How does being a writer inform your role as an editor and vice versa?
I believe I understand more thoroughly how writers work.  This is especially essential in nonfiction, for the demands on a writer are more three-dimensional.  Nonfiction writers invariably must research and/or report; interaction with the outside world is essential.  Memoirists have their own special demons to confront–more immediate because they are writing from truth.
Do you have a writing routine? What is it?

I get up every morning of my life at 500-530 a.m. and drink coffee and type away from there.

If you could give only one piece of advice to writers submitting to CNF, what would it be?

Read the magazine first to make certain it is the kind of piece we are seeking–and then put the piece in a drawer for three months.  And when you look at it again and you are absolutely certain it is the very best you can do and you are exceedingly proud of it–then send.

How do you think CNF stands up to the latest VIDA report on women’s representation in literary magazines?

If you look at our published pieces, the majority come from women. In fact we had an intern do our count yesterday, and–not that this is surprising–our numbers run way in the other direction. Overall for the 3 issues of the redesign, we’re at about 50/50, but the numbers get more interesting beyond that (though of course it’s a relatively small sample, which is a factor). Most interesting is our submissions rates–we counted recent contests and what’s around the office, and they all skew really female. Which, apparently, is not the case at other places.

(See CNF’s count HERE)

What excites you most about the latest issue of CNF?

Every issue excites me more than the previous one.  Starting and continuing to publish CNF Magazine for 17 years is, for me, a great triumph.


Thanks so much to Lee Gutkind for taking the time to answer a few questions. For more information about Lee, visit his website. Below are a few links for subscribing, submitting and getting introduced to Creative Nonfiction. Happy reading!

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