What kind of writing is this?

I’ve been trying to think of how do I describe the kind of writing I do.

I share a lot of excerpts other people’s writing here. But the writing that I love to do (and to read) (both to write and to read) is the long-form essay–which according to Wikipedia ranges from 1,000-10,000 words. My sweet spot seems to be 4,000 words, but I’ve written both longer and shorter essays. Examples include the two-part essay series, “What if It’s Already Too Late” and “Die Early & Die Often”, and the follow-up, “The Yoga of Despair”, which was really the inception of this site.

The content of these and other essays is something called “creative non-fiction”. I came across this term when I was wrestling with the question whether what I do is “art”. Not to downplay what other artists do, but I do think what I do is artistic, because it has a creative element.

I found a description in the Wikipedia article on “creative nonfiction”, which incorporates characteristics proposed by literary critic, Barbara Lounsberry, in her book, The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction (1990), and tweaked it a bit. Creative non-fiction includes these five elements:

  1. A subject matter taken from the real world, which is written about in a factually accurate way
  2. Exhaustive research and the inclusion of verifiable references in the text to establish credibility
  3. A narrative form and structure, i.e., subjective storytelling, in contrast an objective journalistic style of reporting
  4. A personal element, like self-revelation, individual experiences, and a confidential tone
  5. Written with attention to literary style and technique

So there you have it: My preferred medium is the long-form creative nonfiction essay.

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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