Lauren Wilson: Writer’s Block While Traveling Abroad


It has taken me eight months, but I have come to the conclusion that there are three types of writer’s block when studying/spending significant amounts of time abroad. These three types come in stages, and even my non-writer roommates agreed that they went through these stages as well when it came to writing their own blogs to keep family and friends updated. I don’t think everyone experiences these, but I know at least a few people who share the same struggle, so I’m going to break them down and try to figure out how to get over them.


Street musicians at the Plaza Navona, Rome, Italy

The first stage is “I’m not writing because I am so overwhelmed by all of the new and exciting things around me” type of writer’s block. This stage can actually happen multiple times while abroad. It can happen when you first get to the place where you will be leaving for the next couple of months (in my case, it happened in both India and Ireland), but it can also happen every time you leave that place for a little while and go somewhere new (for me, it happened again in England, Austria, Hungary, Scotland, Greece, Italy, and Spain). It happens when there is so much going on and so much to see that you don’t want to miss anything because you decided to sit down and write about it. It happens when you tell yourself, “I’ll just write about it later.” Then that later turns into three weeks and you suddenly realize you forgot the name of the person you met at the Hungarian baths in Budapest, which is unfortunate since they’re the entire point of the essay you’re trying to write.


The Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

There are two ways to combat this stage of writer’s block, I believe. The first is to just make yourself sit down and write down a few quick notes—nothing too in-depth, but enough to jog your memory when the time comes. The second way is to occasionally pull out your smart phone (because we all know you have one) and type a few notes into that about what you’re experiencing while you experience it. I carry a paper notebook with me all the time, but sometimes I prefer to use my phone for little blurbs because it is not as obtrusive and obvious in some situations as taking out my notebook. For example, in a street market it’s a lot easier for me to type a quick line into my phone than it is to stop and use my notebook. If someone at a street market said something that stood out to you, jot it down and expand upon it later. Something as simple as “Falafel guy, ‘Hey princess come back… I give you good price and my number, too’” is more helpful than keeping no record of it at all.


A pedestrian street in Barcelona, Spain

The second type of writer’s block is the “I’ve been living here for a month and nothing is really that new or exceptional-seeming anymore” kind. It’s when you feel like you’ve explored everything there is to explore and are just living a normal life. It’s the stage where writing about the place seems like someone is asking you to write an exciting travel essay on your hometown and what goes on there. My solution for this stage of writer’s block is simple: find the seemingly ordinary things that make your place exceptional. Write about the everyday moments that aren’t so common anywhere else. In Galway, seeing someone have a beer after breakfast isn’t that unordinary. In Moorhead, Minnesota, that would be a little strange. To get past this stage of writer’s block, you need to regain the awe and excitement that you originally had about the place.


Low tide on the coast near Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

The last stage of writer’s block here is the “Wait I only have a month left and have to do all the things” kind. It’s what happens when you realize you are leaving soon and haven’t ticked off nearly enough boxes on your bucket list for this place, and you suddenly feel an intense panic and fear of missing out. You suddenly put everything else on hold to go to that one pub you’ve walked by countless times but never actually walked in to, or to take the long way home because you’ve always thought about it but never have. It’s what happens when you’re suddenly impulse buying bus tickets to places you’ve heard about, but just never made the trip to. It’s the kind of writer’s block where you avoid writing because you’re scared you’re going to miss something memorable.

This, I think, is the trickiest stage of writer’s block. In a couple of months I probably won’t think so and will have half a dozen solutions that I could rattle off easily, but right now I’m stuck in this stage of writer’s block, and can’t seem to find an easy way out of it. For now, the best I can do is copy my ways of dealing with the first stage of writer’s block, and hope that I don’t miss out on too much while I’m here.

Editor’s Note: All photographs by Lauren Wilson.



Editorial Assistant Lauren Wilson is a junior at Concordia College, double-majoring in English writing and global studies. After study abroad experiences to Scotland, England, and France, she’s pursuing her interests in travel writing. She’s spending her junior year abroad: Fall 2015 in India, Spring 2016 in Ireland, and Summer 2016 in Australia. She will be posting monthly about being a writer-in-progress abroad.


Our BAE Call for Submissions Explained: Submit!

We’re home from #AWP16! It was great to meet so many of Assay’s current and future writers. If you can believe it, Editor Karen Babine and Managing Editor Renée E. D’Aoust met for the first time in person at #AWP16. Here’s a picture of them following their panel (with Michael Steinberg, Philip Lopate, and Mimi Schwarz) “Old Neighborhoods, New Locales: How Place Shapes Our Writing and Our Literary Identities.” (One highlight of the panel was what Karen called “converting people to the cult of Paul Gruchow,” and the rumor is that the Milkweed booth sold out of Gruchow after our panel.) Many thanks to all who attended.


In addition to being on a panel, Contributing Editor Taylor Brorby hosted signings and an off-site reading to celebrate the publication of the anthology, which he edited, “Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America” (Ice Cube Press).


We continue to read submissions for next year and spoke in person with many of you at #AWP16 about what we’re doing with our BAE focus. Here’s the lowdown:

We’re concentrating on Best American Essays in our Fall and Spring issues and looking specifically for work that addresses it. For two years (nearly since the beginning of the magazine), our intrepid editorial assistant Nick has been working on a BAE data mining project to make the entirety of the Notables and reprints into a searchable database. He’s graduating in May and we should be able to release the project not too long after he recovers from graduation. The project opens up even more space to discuss Best American Essays.

There are a lot of conversations about BAE we need to put into print, because we as nonfiction writers place a lot of value on BAE and we often simply accept its place in our genre. We talk about in in the fall around water coolers and via social media when the issues appear, but extended discussions need to be considered and put into print.

How do we teach with it–and why? What’s the pedagogy of BAE? This could take the form of scholarship or it could be in the form of an extended lesson plan or assignment. Most of us have favorite essays that have been reprinted—analysis, love songs, etc. of those are most welcome. We want to see work on individual essays; analysis of trends across issues; consideration of the introductions, which are often seen as proto-criticism in a genre that doesn’t have much.

Is the value of BAE in the snapshot of a year that it offers? Is the value in the reprints? In the Notables? Karen keeps thinking back to Stephen Jay Gould’s introduction to the 2002 issue and his observation that he could have filled the entire issue with 9/11 essays, but chose not to. It’s great that online journals are now counted among the journals eligible for BAE—and that’s a necessary shift it’s been interesting to witness in the issues. Does BAE truly represent the best of what’s published in the year?

How do we think about the issue editors, especially as they demonstrate that there’s a divide between nonfiction inside and outside the academy (obviously none of the editors/founders of the main nonfiction journals have ever edited an issue). Nonfiction already represents a divide between disciplines (between composition and rhetoric, literature, and creative writing), as well as between popular magazines (like The New Yorker) and literary magazines. There’s a lot to talk about and our goal is to represent as much of this as possible.

Deadline for full consideration for the Fall issue is 5/1! Click here for the submission guidelines.

The Travel-Writer-In-Process by Lauren Wilson

[Editor’s Note: Though you’ll notice that Lauren wrote this prior to her travels, we’re posting it after her trip, so we can include Lauren’s photographs from Vienna and Budapest.]


Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

There are few things I enjoy more than visiting a new city. The new sites, smells, flavors, and languages all give me an electric feeling. I buzz with excitement. I love the blank canvas that is an unexplored city.

But, if I had to choose something I love more than my first time in a city, I would say the time leading up to getting there. The time spent learning as much as I possibly can about that city, finding any travel writing people have done about it, figuring out where I’m going to stay, what I want to see, what kinds of food I will get to try. I love the anticipation it builds, and also the background knowledge it helps me to have of the places I visit. When I haven’t yet been to a place, everything is completely open to my imagination and what I can find online or in a book. I don’t yet know how suffocatingly hot it gets in the middle of the afternoon, or how the fish market smells, or how beautifully green the parks really are. I don’t know for sure how much I will or will not like the place.

In less than a week, I will be heading off on a five-day trip to Vienna and Budapest. I have never been to either city, the list of people I know who have been is pretty short. So I’ve had to turn to other resources for what to do/see/expect while I’m there.


Museum Quarter, Vienna

I first got the idea for this trip in the European history class I am currently taken. I’ve never taken European history before (small town public school problem, I suppose), so this was my first real introduction to the pre-World War I Austro-Hungarian empire. We didn’t talk about the culture of the place at all, but the fact that this region of the world—which I had never thought that much about before—had once ruled so much of it. I decided I had to see it for myself. So I booked a couple of plane tickets and one bus ticket and started to plan my trip. I got in touch with the few people I know who’ve been there and heard everything they had to say, and then I took to the Internet.


Wiener Eistraum, Vienna

Travel essays are a traveler’s best friend. It was easy enough to find writing on Vienna. “Return to Vienna: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again,” by Janna Graber is my favorite so far about that city. The way she describes the culture, and the way Vienna became her home while she was there, has filled me with an ache to experience the same things. I won’t have the time she did, but who knows, maybe I will feel something similar?


St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest

Budapest, on the other hand, was a lot harder to find essays about. It took a piece published in The Telegraph, for me to find anything that wasn’t a tourist guide to the city. “Just Back: Check Mate in Budapest,” by Ally Gale is a short blurb that won The Telegraph’s travel writing competition back in May of 2015. In less than 500 words, Gale paints a short, vivid picture of the tiniest piece of Hungarian society. Even though her essay tells nothing of the culture of Budapest, it makes me want to do nothing more than sit at the train station and see if someone will invite me to a game of chess. Her story could have taken place in any city, but now it is inextricably linked to Budapest and it has flavored the way I look at the city, and the way I will explore it.

With those essays stuck in my head, and a few Wikipedia searches on what to eat and see saved on my phone, I’m ready to go and explore. Maybe I’ll even add to the limited travel writing on Budapest.


View from Buda Castle, Budapest


LaurenWilsonEditorial Assistant Lauren Wilson is a junior at Concordia College, double-majoring in English writing and global studies. After study abroad experiences to Scotland, England, and France, she’s pursuing her interests in travel writing. She’s spending her junior year abroad: Fall 2015 in India, Spring 2016 in Ireland, and Summer 2016 in Australia. She will be posting monthly about being a writer-in-progress abroad.

CFP: Assay 3.1 and Beyond!


At Assay, we’ve dubbed Year 3 “Year of Best American Essays.” Our intrepid assistant editor Nick Nelson, who’s been with us since the beginning, has been working to make the reprints and Notables of Best American Essays into a searchable form, and his project will be released in the next several months. He started the project in the fall of 2014, before Assay published its first issue, and the scope has grown considerably as he has pursued it. The project is truly exciting, a wonderful and useful piece of work for our genre, and we are thrilled to share it with the world. Stay tuned for the release date.

2016 is the 30th anniversary of the Best American Essays series and we can’t think of a better gift than attention paid to this institution that forms so much of who we are as a genre. Essay Daily started things off so well with their Advent project in December–and if you haven’t checked it out, you’ll want to. Best American Essays, as a literary series and foundational element of our genre, is such a rich source of conversation. As we also celebrate BAE’s anniversary and Nick’s project, we will devote a section of the magazine in both 3.1 (Fall 2016) and 3.2 (Spring 2017) to interrogating BAE as the standard bearer of the genre, the pedagogy of teaching with it, analysis of individual pieces, and any other place creativity strikes.

imageWe’re looking for full scholarly articles, we’re looking for informal discussions, we’re looking for pedagogical theory, lesson plans, assignments, and more. The introductions to BAE have long been considered the beginnings of nonfiction theory–where does that put us as a genre? If you’re not sure what you’re working on is something we’d be interested in, please ask us!

We continue to read and accept general submissions, so even if your current work isn’t on BAE, we’d love to see it. Deadline for full consideration for the fall issue is May 1, 2016; deadline for the Spring 2017 issue is December 1, 2016.  Click here for the link to the full guidelines.

The Travel Writer-in-Process by Lauren Wilson


For a 21-year-old from Fosston, Minnesota, I’ve done a lot of international travel. I have seen plenty of places and spent time in Asia, Europe, and Central America. One thing I have never done though is go back to a place I have visited before. Since I’m in Europe for such an extended period of time this spring, I’m going to change that. In one week, I’ll be revisiting London—the site of last year’s spring break trip—and two weeks from then I’ll be in Scotland, retracing part of my hike up the West Highland Way.

I have written about my experiences in both Scotland and London. I’ve revisited my photos and journal entries from those trips time and time again, looking for something more I could write about. So far, I haven’t found anything new calling out to me. That’s why I’m returning to both places. I’ve been to each place once, so now when I go back I know what to look for, and what to not. I know that the walk from Leicester Square to the Victoria theatre is much, much farther than it looks on the map of the tube. I also know that I should make that walk again, but this time without the deadline of a show looming over my head. I know that the British Museum has the Rosetta Stone and the crowds that inevitably flock to it. But there again I know that there is also an extensive clock exhibit that draws a very select group of people to it. Let’s just say the room isn’t very crowded. I know where to get fish and chips in Scotland and where—if I ask nicely—a bartender will teach me how to play the bagpipes. I also know that it’s not necessary to take a picture of every waterfall I see.

By going back, I’m not just giving myself a good dose of nostalgia, I’m giving myself a chance to slow down and look for the things I missed. What was it about the man’s accent that made it so hard for me to understand his directions to the theatre? The clock exhibit is huge and expensive and beautiful, but why does it only draw a few people? And why these people? What about the clocks interests them? Are these really the best fish and chips, or am I just so hungry after walking that anything would taste like “the best” of its kind? How does one actually play the bagpipes? Is it hard to learn? By going back and looking for the things I missed the first time around, I’m opening up the opportunity for a new story (or two, or three..). I am going back to see the details, to see what I didn’t see the first time, to enrich my experience in each place by adding a little more to the picture that I already have in my head.

Not only am I going back with a bit of previous experience behind me, I’m going back with some new resources and a different frame of mind. Living in the U.S. and traveling to Europe from there is a hassle and a half to say the least. Now that I’m in Europe though, the worst part of the trip will be the bus ride from Glasgow to Dublin. The ease of travel here not only makes it more convenient to get to a place, but keeps me from feeling like a zombie for my entire trip as I try to fight off jetlag and general travel exhaustion. Also, my roommate introduced me to an app called CityMaps2Go. It allows you to download a map of a city to your phone and (without using data) it tracks where you’re at so you don’t have to get lost if you’re not trying to. Armed with that and a map to all of the privately owned bookshops in London, I’m set to wander the streets of the city like never before. As far as a new frame of mind goes, when I was in both Scotland and London I was on a strict schedule. Be here by this time on this day for this long. I had the mindset of a tourist who is trying as hard as possible to not act like one. Now, I’m returning on my own terms. I don’t have to do anything but sit in a bookshop or pub the entire time. I am free to experience these places as I want, and to experience the things that matter the most to me. And then, I’ll write about it.



Editorial Assistant Lauren Wilson is a junior at Concordia College, double-majoring in English writing and global studies. After study abroad experiences to Scotland, England, and France, she’s pursuing her interests in travel writing. She’s spending her junior year abroad: Fall 2015 in India, Spring 2016 in Ireland, and Summer 2016 in Australia. She will be posting monthly about being a writer-in-progress abroad.

The Travel Writer-in-Process by Lauren Wilson


I used to think that spending two weeks at home is more than enough time for a Christmas break—I’m usually more than ready to go back to school and my friends and enjoy the freedom that college allows.

That was before I had spent four months living in India though, and long before I had wrapped my head around the fact that I was about to leave for Ireland for another five months. With those facts looming over my head, two weeks was a terrifyingly short amount of time. Between the holiday celebrations, shopping trips I needed to make to get the necessary gear for Ireland (I somehow still managed to get to Galway without a rain jacket though…), and all of the different relatives I had to see, it felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of time for anything—much less writing.

I have now been in Ireland for a little less than a month and I haven’t written a single thing. Nothing about India, Ireland, or the holidays. I haven’t even done proper journaling. My poor little red moleskin journal who has followed me so faithfully around the world hasn’t seen more than a few quick scribbles here and there, much less any formulated notes on my experience. There are too many new things to see, too many bookshops to visit, pubs to try out, too many streets to wander down. The lure of Galway’s Latin Quarter with cobblestoned streets and musicians at every turn is one that I am unable to ignore. I have finally got a normal class schedule again (I’m back to lectures that take place twice a week, rather than four hours of the same class every morning), but none of my classes require writing until the end of the semester. Even then, none of it is creative writing. So it would seem as though I’m in the same situation as last semester—stuck with no incentive to write while I’m in Ireland. So I’ve had to come up with a few reasons of my own.

With stable access to Internet comes the ability to look for journals looking for student submissions. Some of them even pay, and Lord knows any college student could use that. So, to help give myself some incentive, most of my time spent on the computer is used looking for where I can send my next piece, and especially what topics editors are looking for submissions in. Even if nothing gets accepted, having a deadline to work with and a new topic that someone wants me to write about is enough of a challenge for my overly-competitive self to sit down and get to work. Even if nothing gets published, it’s still a good way to make myself write about new things and even look for new ways to do so. So far, I’ve found two that look like something I can do (if anyone has any ideas on others, I’d love to hear about them), and in addition to that, I’ve set a goal to fill the new journal I brought with. I might not specifically write about everything I’m experiencing here now, but if I can write it all down now, then I will be able to write about it all later. My journal has found itself a new home inside my purse, and if I have a few minutes between classes all start to catch up on things I haven’t jotted down yet. Also, I have no shame in pulling out my journal when sitting in a pub. I’m working on getting details of all of my favorite pubs and cafes while I’m sitting in them. Who knows, it could make an interesting essay someday.

So for now, I’m going to write what I can, read as much as possible (you have to read good writing to write good writing, according to Concordia’s English department), and have as many new experiences as I possibly can. I’m already planning adventures for the coming months (Greece for Easter break? Sounds good to me!) and my reading list for the classes I’m taking is long enough without adding my own books to the list. Between genre studies and a class on modernist/postmodernist writing, I’ve joined a sort of Book-a-Week club. AroundtheWorldcvrOn my shelf I currently have The Time Machine, Around the World in Eighty Days, Hamlet, The Driver’s Seat, Silas Marner, Mrs. Dalloway, Pale Fire, Herland, Ten Days in a Mad House, and Alice in Wonderland.

The list of my own books is a little shorter. The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman is there, along with Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino, and I have my eye on Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold, and a book on maps and how they affect our lives. It’s only a matter of time before I cave and pick those two up to add to my collection. With all of this going on, I’m going to focus on enjoying my time here, and I’ll write about it all eventually.


LaurenWilsonEditorial Assistant Lauren Wilson is a junior at Concordia College, double-majoring in English writing and global studies. After study abroad experiences to Scotland, England, and France, she’s pursuing her interests in travel writing. She’s spending her junior year abroad: Fall 2015 in India, Spring 2016 in Ireland, and Summer 2016 in Australia. She will be posting monthly about being a writer-in-progress abroad.

Writers to Read: On Compression by Taylor Brorby

As Polonius reminds us in Hamlet, “brevity is the soul of wit.” But when dealing with geological time, this might seem oxymoronic. When reading about earth’s time periods millennia need dozens, if not hundreds, of pages—and let’s not even begin to discuss the amount of pulp needed to begin writing about millions of years. Yet compression seems to be the best ingredient in Barbara Hurd’s compact 712 word essay, “Fracking: A Fable.”

Hurd’s lush and vivid language put Earth’s time into human language:

“Rain fell for centuries, and millions of years after that, the ancient Appalachian Basin just west of what is now the East Coast spent even more millennia becoming a sprawling, shallow bowl. And then nothing much happened. Another million years passed.”

Hurd takes our understanding of time and, like rolling a piece of play-doh, condenses it and presses it smaller. Millions of years are rendered in short sentences. With a flick of a phrase, time—time beyond human understand or concept—is whisked away:

“More tens of thousands of centuries passed while the water sloshed and the undersea mud thickened, and in all that time, no human ever stood on its shores, no blue crab ever scurried in the ooze.   There were no witnesses. And even if there had been, who could have stood the boredom of watching that slow, barely breathing world?”

What many readers might consider monumental in Earth’s history, Hurd renders in pithy sentences: “A few continents collided, some peaks rose, some valleys sank.” No big deal. And part of the reason the movement of time is no big deal in Hurd’s piece is that the main focus is on the precious energy source our lives depend upon: oil. Hurd’s piece is not strident, doesn’t chastise, and is not what we might call typical “activist” writing. Yet there is a lurking concern in her layered approach—subtly, Hurd urges the reader to think of time, what the scale of time looks like—the reader might dig deeper to understand how humans have manipulated Earth’s processes for our own benefit, our own dominance.

Halfway through the essay, Hurd’s pacing shifts. The sentences pick up tempo, and we start to blaze across the page at lightning speed. Look at this:

“We developed with lightning speed—geologically speaking—our brains and vision and hands, our fast and furious tools, our drills and ingenuity, and all the while that ooze-become-rock lay locked and impenetrable, deep in the earth, farther than anything, including anyone’s imagination, reached, until in the split second that is humankind’s history on this planet we pushed a drill with a downhole mud-motor a mile deep and made it turn sideways and snaked it into that ancient rock speckled with evidence of another eon, and a few minutes later we detonated small explosives and blasted millions of gallons of slick water—sand and water and a bit of biocide in case anything was alive down there—into what hadn’t seen water or light for four hundred million years.”

One sentence. Compression does not necessarily mean short sentences; it can also mean rapid, quick-moving, and lucid thinking—this, undoubtedly is one of the hallmarks of Hurd’s piece (which writers might also turn to for vivid language, rich imagery, or the play of mind-bending concepts of time). In this way, Hurd mimics the geological compression throughout Earth’s history. The writing condenses, is layered, and has staying power like a geological period.

By the end of the essay Hurd alludes to the risks of fracking—not by commentating on spills or radioactive material—but through our understanding of story:

“And when the slick water was withdrawn from the fissures and small slither-spaces and that prehistoric bedrock was lickety-split forever changed, no one could predict the impact, not even we inventive humans whose arrival on this planet is so recent, whose footprints, so conspicuous and large, often obliterate cautionary tales.”

Eventually, Hurd’s sentences do shorten. Her final two paragraphs are each single sentences: “And soon the unpredictable, as always, occurred.” Disaster? Biocide? The reader’s mind is left to its own devices. “And now, in no time at all, not everything takes forever any longer.” The reader, pushed along a continuum of time, now understands just how quickly we inventive humans have compressed the timescale of the world.

Like a smooth river stone, Barbara Hurd’s “Fracking: A Fable” is smooth and round, something to carry in your pocket, pull out, examine. It is bedrock. Enjoy the language, the imagery, but enjoy too its precision, it’s compression. After all, it speaks to a practice that places us and the future of ecology in peril.


ContributScreen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.07.44 AMing Editor Taylor Brorby is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. A fellow at the Black Earth Institute, he is currently working on a poetry collection related to the Bakken oil boom, as well as an essay collection and editing an anthology of creative writing on fracking, “Fracture,” for Ice Cube Press, due out this winter. Taylor is a regular contributor to Assay’s “In the Classroom” series, and he is the book review editor at Orion Magazine.

Assay’s Call for Submissions and “In the Classroom” Review

imageEditor’s Note: I want to be sure that regular readers of “In the Classroom” have seen Assay’s call for our spring issue.


Assay Call for Papers: Diversity in Nonfiction

Our spring issue will take up issues of diversity in nonfiction, so please send us your articles, conversations, and pedagogy that address diverse nonfiction texts, underrepresented authors, and varied educational environments. Deadline for full consideration is January 1, 2016.


Thank you for spreading the word and submitting!

Our “In the Classroom” series will continue next Monday (and wrap up our fall series) with a piece from Jen Palmares Meadows. You can read Jen’s super Assay panel post about “The Beasts Amongst Us” from NonfictioNOW here. You can also read a Jen’s great NonfictioNOW posts about “The View from the Slush Pile” over at BrevityPart I and Part II.

We’ve had a super year with our “In the Classroom” series, covering “Favorite Essays to Teach” and “Writers to Read.” A few examples: we started this fall with Jessica Handler writing about Joan Didion, continued with Sophfronia Scott writing about Robert Vivian (“dervish essays”!), and last week Stacy Murison wrote about Brian Doyle. Erin Davis wrote about teaching Jess Walter’s “Citizen Vince” and Dinty W. Moore wrote about teaching Debra Marquart’s “Hochzeit.” There was all that and more.

We’re grateful to all who contribute to what we trust is a valuable resource for teachers, students, readers, and writers. As you finish your fall grading and make your holiday writing plans, keep Assay in mind!

Call for Submissions!

imageWe’re just coming down from the high of our fall issue and we’re already reading excellent work for our Spring 2016 issue, which will go live on March 1, 2016. We have some special things in store for our spring and we hope you’ll join us.

The first is that we’re concentrating on Diversity in Nonfiction in our spring issue. We’ll feature a Spotlight on the subject, but we also are looking for general submissions that represent the full diversity of writers and ideas in nonfiction, whether that is race, gender, ethnicity, class, neurodiversity, ecodiversity, or any other distinction you can think of. We’re looking for underrepresented writers and texts, new readings and interpretations. We’re looking for submissions that address diverse populations, especially in terms of educational institutions.

We will still read and accept general submissions to Articles, Conversations, and Pedagogy, though we’re specifically looking for work in this vein. Click here to read the submission guidelines and click here to query us with your questions. Can’t wait to see what you send us!

Assay Annual Report: Year 1

It’s hard to believe that Assay’s first year of publication is in the bag, with two spectacular issues forging new paths in nonfiction conversation. We returned from AWP and the panels we heard confirms our mission as a magazine: we’re having these conversations, truly excellent discussions of what our genre is doing, and those conversations need a permanent home. We’re glad to be a part of that work. Here are some of the successes we’re most proud of from this year: Continue reading