A Northwest Based Literary Journal

Five Reasons We Love Nonfiction

When Joe and I first launched TLR, writers and readers shared enthusiasm for what we were doing, but one question they continually asked us was, “why aren’t you publishing nonfiction?” First, we’d always had nonfiction in mind, but we wanted to start with a smaller genre pool as we worked to prove that our collaborative, transparent model would thrive in the literary marketplace, and second, we wanted to wait until we’d found the perfect person to edit nonfiction. The overwhelmingly positive response to TLR’s vision has made it possible to bring nonfiction into our literary mix for our second issue (we open our reading period June 8), and we’re happy to welcome the multitalented Yi Shun Lai to the editorial table. Below, Yi Shun tells you what makes her love nonfiction. If you love it, too, we hope you’ll consider sending work for our second issue (read what Yi Shun is looking for here). –Kelly Davio


Hi. Yi Shun Lai, Tahoma Literary Review’s nonfiction editor here.

So many people have asked me over the years why I choose working with words for a living. The answer is probably the same many of you have: I’m always interested in a good story. Beyond that, writers want to know what other people have to say, and what their experiences are. We also work in a profession that allows us to know what it feels like to always believe that a great story could happen at any given time, around any corner, so long as you keep your ears and eyes peeled for it.

Nonfiction has a special place in my heart, though. From the time I published my first-ever narrative nonfiction essay (about baseball peanuts!) I was hooked on the idea that there was a paying market out there for folks who wanted to hear me tell stories about the day my brother left to be a Peace Corps volunteer; about the day the water pump broke at my friend Julia’s, about the week I spent with my dad in our home country. Of course, these stories are about shared human experiences, aren’t they, and maybe that’s why I like nonfiction so much: It gives us common ground, reason to feel not so alone.

But there are more reasons to love nonfiction. Here are five I can think of:

1. You always run the possibility of learning something you didn’t know.

2. Every person’s recollection of an event is unique.

3. The piece you start to read or write usually doesn’t end the way you think it will .

4. You get to share something important to you with someone you might not ever meet.

5. You get to eavesdrop for the sake of your work. Snort!


I can’t wait to learn, recollect, share, eavesdrop, and be taken by surprise with and by you. Send your best work in to me via Submittable, starting June 8.


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