Why creative nonfiction?

These days everyone is a writer, an author and a publisher. That’s the beauty of technology.

But what if you’re looking for a story that’s more moving than your everyday blog post? What if you’re looking for a story that’s more empowering than your friends’ Facebook status updates? Or a story that goes deeper—WAY deeper—than your Twitter feed? Creative nonfiction (also called literary nonfiction by some) is a genre that takes storytelling to a level beyond “I was twelve years old when my mom died.” Instead, with creative nonfiction, we meet that twelve-year-old and watch him cope with the pain by playing with his sister’s Barbie dolls. It makes us feel like we are twelve years old again, and makes us imagine what it’s like to grow up without a mother. And maybe, even if both our parents are still living, we’re moved to share our own story of loss. Under the Gum Tree finds those stories and presents them in a quarterly digital magazine.

Specifically, we’re looking for personal essays, memoir and creative nonfiction stories that:

  • reveal authentic vulnerability. These are stories that you’re embarrassed or afraid to share because you’re more worried about how people you know will react than what you learned and how it changed you. Those are the most powerful stories because you’re risking something for the sake of helping someone else.
  • provoke conversation. The stories that are the hardest to tell inevitably make at least one person say, “Wow. Me too. And I thought I was the only one.” The stories that are the hardest to tell give others permission to tell their hard stories, and it perpetuates a cycle of storytelling.
  • examine a universal truth. Most people keep the hard stories to themselves out of fear—fear of how others will react or judge them—but once a story gets shared, we finally realize how common the human experience really is. Sure, everyone’s individual experience is unique. (Isn’t that what makes a good story?)  But we can always relate to things like love, forgiveness, perseverance—you know, the stuff that everyone encounters no matter their circumstances.

 

Departments

We consider submissions (2,000 words or less) for the following departments:

Features

We also consider submissions (2,000 words or more) as the featured piece for any given issue. 

Visual Art

We consider submissions of visual art and photography. Every issue features two artists: a photographer and a visual artist. Art should be recent, no more than 2 years old, and should be previously unpublished in literary magazines or journals. We do not consider an exhibition or gallery show as previous publication.

Submission Guidelines

Under the Gum Tree accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, and all submissions will be considered for one of our quarterly issues. To submit writing, photography or art to be considered for publication, please read and follow these guidelines.

Please don’t email with questions until you have familiarized yourself with these guidelines and the details on this page. Sorry, but we can’t answer emails that ask us to “please send more information about what you’re looking for.” Also, please don’t email us asking whether we have read your submission or if we’re going to publish it. If we decide to publish your piece, you will hear from us. Promise.

Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be eligible for consideration.

  1. Under the Gum Tree does not accept queries. Only complete manuscripts or complete bodies of visual art sent digitally will be considered. We are a digital publication, after all.
  2. Simultaneous submissions and work previously published on your own blog or website are both okay. We do not consider work that has been previously published. Under the Gum Tree contributors retain all the rights to their own work.
  3. Submit only one piece at a time.
  4. If we have accepted your piece, please wait at least one year before submitting again.
  5. Contributors receive one complimentary print copy of the issue in which their work appears.
  6. We accept digital submissions only. Click here to submit.
  7. Yes, we charge a nominal submission fee. This helps us do things like pay our contributors (a goal we are working toward), send complimentary print copies to our contributors and offer a cash prize for our contests.
  8. Do not include any identifying information (name, contact information, email, location, etc.) in the file that you submit. Doing so will mean your submission is automatically declined.
  9. If you would like to submit art or photography, the guidelines specified here apply. Use this link to submit.
  10. For art and photo submissions, you should submit a complete body of work that you would like to see published in Under the Gum Tree. We need to see 15-20 images to consider your work. Send us a link to a web page, a link to download images or low-res images by pdf. If you are selected for publication, we will be in touch to ask you for hi-res images, which must be 8.5″ x 11″ or 11″ x 17″ jpegs at 300 dpi. If you cannot provide digital images at this size, please do not submit.
  11. We’re currently accepting submissions for departments, features and visual art year-round.