Sonoma County author Nicole Zimmerman’s “The Nature of Beginnings” was recently published in Under the Gum Tree.
This Sacramento-based, reader supported, quarterly literary arts magazine publishes creative nonfiction and visual art in the form of a micro-magazine.
What does it mean to “tell stories without shame”?
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” —Brené Brown
Under the Gum Tree has been championing the mantra of telling stories without shame since 2011. We see our mission as sharing stories that remind readers of our shared humanity. Too much of the human experience gets hidden behind constructed facades based on what we perceive the world expects from us. Stop hiding. Live a story. Tell it without shame.
If you write true stories, also called creative nonfiction, (and literary nonfiction, by some) and you’re taking storytelling to a level beyond “I was twelve years old when my mother died,” then you might be ready to submit to us.
We publish personal essays, memoir, and creative nonfiction stories that:
reveal authentic vulnerability. These are stories that you’re embarrassed or afraid to share because you’re more worried about how people you know will react than what you learned and how it changed you. Those are the most powerful stories because you’re risking something for the sake of helping someone else.
provoke conversation. The stories that are the hardest to tell inevitably make at least one person say, “Wow. Me too. And I thought I was the only one.” The stories that are the hardest to tell give others permission to tell their hard stories, and it perpetuates a cycle of storytelling.
examine a universal truth. Most people keep the hard stories to themselves out of fear—fear of how others will react or judge them—but once a story gets shared, we finally realize how common the human experience really is. Sure, everyone’s individual experience is unique. (Isn’t that what makes a good story?) But we can always relate to things like love, forgiveness, perseverance—you know, the stuff that everyone encounters no matter their circumstances.
We consider submissions (2,000 words or more) for the following departments:
Features: Longer features may explore a department topic or any other unspecified topic.
Stomping Ground: This department is for stories about family—and we use that term liberally, because isn’t the friend you’ve had since you were eight, almost nine, years old, more like a sister?
Sound Track: This department is for stories on interacting with music and how it interacts with us. Is there a specific song, group or artist that has had a significant impact on your life? Have you had a meaningful live-music experience? Are you a musician who also writes about how music affects the human experience?
Fork and Spoon: This department is for stories, and even recipes, on how food, cooking, eating and drinking affect life. The dinner table means different things to each of us—it can be a comfortable place that facilitates intimate communion, but to someone else it might be an awkward place of forced conversation. These food interactions shape us more than we know.
24 Frames A Second: This department is for stories on film, perhaps one of the more powerful storytelling mediums. Is there a specific film that has changed you in some way—caused you to think differently or see the world from a new perspective? Are you consistently moved by the work of one particular actor or director?
Those Who Wander: Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Travels are from one neighborhood to another, one state to another, one country to another; on vacation or a pilgrimage, for family or for work, so many of these changes in our physical locations trigger meaningful reactions in us and the way we view the world around us. This department is for stories about travel and the individual ways moving around this globe affects us.
Flash: Every issue includes a flash feature, which is a short-short piece of creative nonfiction, under 1,000 words.
Visual Art: We consider submissions of visual art and photography. Every issue features two artists: a photographer and a visual artist. Art should be recent, no more than 2 years old, and should be previously unpublished in literary magazines or journals.
Under the Gum Tree accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, and all submissions will be considered for one of our quarterly issues. To submit writing, photography or art to be considered for publication, please read and follow the guidelines.
Please don’t email with questions until you have familiarized yourself with these guidelines and the details on this page.
With the submission fee, you receive the current issue (digital—a $7.99 value!) FREE.