"This past fall, I went with seven other third-year nonfiction MFA students from the University of Pittsburgh to New York to pitch editors and agents. Incidentally, we are all women. All young women. Not a single one of us was pitching a memoir or personal essay: one of us was writing a biography of Alexander Graham Bell, one a true crime story about a coal town murder, one immersion journalism about gay square dancing, one narrative nonfiction about a highway in Peru and its impacts, one a profile of a small-town filmmaker, and finally, in my case, literary journalism about Mexican migrants returning to Mexico after years in the U.S.
"We would sit around a table in a Midtown office with a generous view, and we’d each give our prepared pitch–Peru; Mexico; Alexander Graham Bell; Henry Ford and square dancing; Braddock, PA. And then the listener would sit back, digest, and say,: 'So, this is a story about a young girl…''
Read more of "It's Not Personal." If you're a woman writing literary journalism, this is required reading. If you're a man writing literary journalism, this is doubly required reading. And if you're an editor, memorize it.