First Person

First Person

Creative first-person essays written by CATALYST readers

CATALYST Magazine announces the resurrection of First Person, a monthly collection of creative non-fiction essays written by our readers. Pick a topic and write about something from your life. Each month we’ll print a few, and give the authors a small gift: our way of saying “thanks.”

First Person essays are, like the title suggests, written in first person, and are non-fiction. These are essays about yourself, about your life. While actual writing style isn’t something we’re too concerned with, attention to detail and a sense of poignancy are paramount. Think about the story you want to tell, and reflect on the deeper meaning behind it. Topics are left broad in order to allow for a full range of expression: don’t feel constrained to a literal or specific interpretation of the topic.

The best words to describe these essays are:

  • Concise
  • Concrete
  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Poignant

The closest definition of the type of writing we’re looking for is “creative nonfiction.” Check out the Wikipedia entry about this genre for more info: Brenda Miller’s book, Tell It Slantis an excellent resource, too.

If you feel the need for anonymity, let us know, and we can publish your story as “Name Withheld.” Please let US know who you are, however. If we feel the piece is of an especially sensitive nature, we might decide to withhold the name, or use a first name and last initial. Please refrain from referring to other people specifically by first and last name, as this could potentially cause issues of libel. Let us know if you’ve already changed the names of those involved in your essay.

*** Length of submissions isn’t set in stone, but typically we’re interested in shorter pieces — around 100-400 words (500 maximum, with few exceptions). ***

We edit pieces, but will give you the opportunity to approve or disapprove of edits before publication if we’ve made significant changes.

Please mention which topic your essay is written for!

Please send submissions to:

Upcoming Topics Deadline
Nothing Like It December 20th, 2009
Losing Control January 20th, 2010
Inner Light February 20th, 2010
Hindsight March 20th, 2010
The Right One April 20th, 2010
Saw It Coming May 20th, 2010