The countdown is on for the CNFC’s annual conference in Toronto!

Banner for the CNFC Conference 2018 featuring photos of Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga

With stimulating panels, hands-on workshops, opportunities to mingle and share your work, and more, this conference promises to be one of our best yet.

See the full program here.

And if you need accommodation, click here.


First Page Event

You’ve finished a draft of your manuscript and you’re not quite sure about that opening. Your friends love it. Your dog loves it. Your mother loves it. But will it pass muster with a wider audience? Wouldn’t you like to know what the pros think? Find out from our panel of publishing experts at The First Page.

How: Submit the first page of a manuscript-in-progress, double spaced, in 12-point font to by April 22. Any sub-genre of creative nonfiction is acceptable.

You may also add a paragraph to give the necessary context. For example: “This is the opening of my biography of XYZ,” or “This is a memoir about living with cancer.” “This book uses case studies to ask questions about the environment.” Give us your three-sentence elevator pitch. Let us know what you aim to do and why the book’s important.

Please, no names or identifying information; entries will be judged blind and chosen on the basis of what a discussion of their strengths and possible weaknesses might teach us as a group.

What will happen: Our panel of publishing experts will read and evaluate your writing sample onstage for an audience of your peers. The page will be projected on a screen so all can read it.

Please come prepared for an honest, perhaps bracing, but fundamentally supportive conversation about your work, which will arm you with concrete suggestions for change and encourage you to dive into revisions.


Carte Blanche and the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society are pleased to announce the long list for our 2017-18 Creative Nonfiction Competition:

“Father’s Day” by Christine Barbetta
“Anne” by Beethina Clavette
“Passage” by Jennifer Delisle
“Lucky Number Seven” by Emily Kellogg
“East Vancrowver” by Jennifer Lori
“Estranged Magic” by Kim McCullough
“Laundry Day” by Christina Myers
“Descent into Darkness” by Nancy O’Rourke
“What’s Coming For You” by Julie Paul
“All There Was” by Bill Penner

Hailing from coast to coast, these ten writers have tackled a range of important subjects with distinctive voice, lively prose, and evident craft. Congratulations to all, and a big thanks to everyone who entered.

Thanks also to our preliminary readers, Joshua Levy and Monica Meneghetti.

The winner of the contest will be announced at the Creative Nonfiction Collective’s annual conference, May 4-6, in Toronto, Ontario.

Registration for the CNFC’s 14th Annual Writing True Conference is now closed.

Join us from May 4-6 for an exciting roster of Master Classes, panels, workshops, interviews, and opportunities to meet and share ideas with old friends and new, in the CNFC’s first ever conference in Toronto.

We’ll meet at Victoria University, within the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. A short stroll to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, Yorkville, Queen’s Park, and so much more, our venue is right at the heart of Canada’s most multi-cultural metropolis.

We’ve done our best to keep prices low for a big-city event.

Looking for ACCOMMODATION while staying in Toronto?

Registration for our upcoming conference in Toronto is now closed.

Thank-you to everyone who registered. We’re looking forward to meeting you in Toronto!

What’s Included

The regular Conference fee includes publishing and editing panels on the afternoon of Friday, May 4 followed by a light meal (with cash bar) and a keynote address by noted journalist and memoirist Kamal Al-Solaylee.

Saturday brings a full day of panels, discussions, workshops with invited speakers and member presenters, together with lunch, dinner, and our fabulous Literary Cabaret. We’ll round things off on Sunday with our annual general meeting.

Hoping to focus on questions of craft? Then consider signing up for one or more of our superb interactive Master Classes on Friday, May 4 for a small extra fee. ($25 for members; $40 for non-members) Note: Maximum 25 participants per class.

Join us also for free, on- and off-site events on Thursday, May 3 and the afternoon of Sunday, May 6.

Read the full 2018 program details.

And if you’d like to bring a guest, select individual events (Keynote address and Conversation with Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga) as well as evening meals, are also available for a small extra charge.

Follow this link for more information.



Need a place to stay in Toronto? We’ve got you sorted.

Knowing that many of you are coming from a distance, we’ve aimed to arrange accommodations at different price levels and affordability.

First, we’ve negotiated a conference rate at The Chelsea ($179+tax a night). The Chelsea is three subway stops or a 20-minute walk from the conference venue and offers the usual amenities, including free wi-fi, pool, etc. Please mention the Creative Nonfiction Collective conference when booking.

Book your room at The Chelsea Hotel (CNFC Conference Rate)

Looking for a less expensive option? Or maybe you’d like to stay even closer to the Conference venue or want to share a room with a friend. In that case, you might prefer the dormitory at Victoria University on the University of Toronto campus.

Victoria dorms offer single or double rooms (twin beds) and shared washrooms. Internet is available but you must have an ethernet cable. Breakfast is included.

Click here to book accommodation at Victoria University (within the University of Toronto)

Please include the conference name: The Canadian Creative Nonfiction Collective Society Meeting 2018.

Regular Rate 2018

$75.00 per single room / per night (+ 13% HST = $84.75)

$100.00 per double room / per night (+ 13% HST = $113.00)

Note that neither venue is the official conference lodging, and we encourage you to seek out other options if neither of these locations suit your specific needs.

Important dates and other information

Payment is due when you register. Pay through Paypal or by cheque. Please make cheques payable to the Creative Nonfiction Collective and mail them to the address below:

2046 East 4th Avenue,
Vancouver, BC V5N 1K4

The last day of registration is April 22. No refunds after April 22.

Cancellations up to April 22: $30 administration fee.

Master Classes: Please register for master classes separately. Registration for our master classes is limited.

Guests: You may register one guest for Saturday night’s dinner. Guest registrations are also available for Friday’s keynote address and light dinner, and Saturday morning’s “In Conversation.”


Creative Nonfiction Collective Society 14th Annual Writing True Conference PosterPlans for the CNFC’s 2018 Conference at the University of Toronto are well underway! Featuring Kamal Al- Solaylee, Lee Maracle, Dinty Moore, Carol Off, Evany Rosen, Naben Ruthnum, Tanya Talaga, and more, with workshops, interviews, and panels on topics ranging from writing humour to grappling with difficult material, this weekend of lively conversation and craft will offer plenty of prompts to writers of all levels.

The conference kicks off at 2 pm on Friday, May 4, with a publishing panel featuring three highly experienced Toronto professionals, followed by “First Page” — an opportunity for volunteer members to hear how the pros respond to their work.

Award-winning journalist and memoirist Kamal Al-Solaylee, author of Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) will deliver our keynote address on the evening of May 4. Saturday will include a whirlwind of fascinating panels, interviews, workshops, and opportunities to network, and the gathering will culminate in our annual AGM and a literary Jane’s Walk through the Annex on Sunday, May 6.

Join us earlier for a book launch on Thursday evening, and Master Classes (at a small extra charge) on Friday morning!

Stay tuned for more details here and on Facebook.

‘Creative nonfiction is about looking at reality from an original angle’

Joshua Levy was the winner of the 2017 CNFC/carte blanche creative nonfiction prize and will be one of the readers selecting the 2018 shortlist.

Below he offers insight into the power of the CNF genre and words of encouragement for those hoping to submit this year.

‘I find the translation of reality into prose to be deeply satisfying’


My piece is about sitting in a park and reflecting on whether to stay broken-up with my girlfriend. On its surface, it has no plot, virtually no dialogue, and no movement (95% of the story takes place with the protagonist sitting mute and motionless on a bench). And yet, the short piece is packed full of everything under the sun: riots, extinction, Nazis, family history, etc.

I think what made the piece stand out is that the story takes the conventional writing maxim of “show, don’t tell” to the extreme. The protagonist actually spends the entire story doing everything but directly reflecting on whether to stay broken up with the girlfriend.

While he seems to be purposely avoiding addressing the central issue of this story, his subconscious is in overdrive attempting to glean insights and draw parallels between his present, past, and desired future. Because the story plays with these relationships in time, the very short piece feels more epic in scope than its humble plot would suggest. This is why I named it “A chaotic jumble of infinite possibility.” Even mundane moments are packed with spectacular possibilities.


Creative nonfiction is about looking at reality from an original angle. The topic is irrelevant; it’s how the story is told. I will be looking for stories that move me, plain and simple. I will also be looking for authors who fully understand what their story is ultimately about, and who make tough editorial choices to protect their truth from the distractions of superfluous facts.


I don’t think so. Compared to fiction, creative nonfiction has the pesky added responsibility of not misrepresenting what actually happened. However, CNF gives ample cover for creative solutions.

Many creative nonfiction pieces can also be submitted to the fiction genre. In this sense, it doubles the opportunities for writers to submit their work.


Until a couple of years ago, I wrote exclusively fiction, and I still employ many of the literary techniques of fiction writing to my nonfiction. The positive reaction to my creative nonfiction has made me realize that there are endless true stories waiting to be told. I find the translation of reality into prose to be deeply satisfying. It has opened up many doors for my literary career.

For example, I have recently written commissioned CNF pieces for literary journals, been asked to tell CNF stories on CBC Radio shows, and been invited to tell CNF stories at live events, festivals, and even for a museum.


I love the Paris Review “Art of Nonfiction/Fiction/Poetry” series. They have been conducting extended interviews with the best writers in the world since 1953. It’s a treasure trove.

I also really enjoy the New Yorker’s fiction podcast. Each episode has a famous writer reading another famous writer’s short story and then analyzing what they think makes that piece work so well. I wish that the podcast included nonfiction writers, too, but the mechanics of great writing transcend genre.


You won’t win any competition that you don’t enter. So, enter! Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t win. My winning entry was rejected by other competitions and magazines before it won a grand prize. The final ingredient to success is, unfortunately, luck.

The solution? Keep submitting! Each time you submit your story somewhere, you’re increasing your chances of getting lucky. Your talent should eventually get noticed — but only if you’re willing to play the numbers game and absorb a pile of rejections. Stay strong.

Joshua Levy is a storyteller. He and his wife split their time between Montreal, Toronto, and Lisbon, Portugal.

CNF tip of the week: lyric essay

Lyric Essay

A lyric essay uses the techniques of poetry, including compression, sound play, white space, formal innovation, non-linear narrative, and juxtaposition to explore an idea or an experience in the writer’s life. Lyric essays may be structured as collage or mosaic, as braided or woven narratives, as “flash” snapshots, or wedged within the carapace of other forms such as instruction manuals, rejection letters, lists, or maps, and they may also make use of images. They often rely on research in addition to personal experience. Typically, they make greater demands on the reader than other types of creative nonfiction, so for some, they are an acquired taste—but those who love them can’t get enough!

A few examples

Brenda Miller: “36 Holes.”

Nicole Breit: “Spectrum.” (CNFC award winner!)

Eula Biss: “The Pain Scale.”

Judith Kitchen: “On the Farm.”

To learn more