Featured Essays

Essays in Anthologies

River Teeth: 20 years

Editors Dan Lehman and Joe Mackall chose “Going Back to Plum Island,” about returning to a place of trauma to reclaim beauty and safety, for River Teeth: Twenty Years of Creative Nonfiction (University of New Mexico Press, 2020).

The Best of Brevity

Editors Zoë Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore chose “The Sloth,” about grief and the temperature of blood, for The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction (Rose Metal Press, 2020).

Not That Bad

Editor Roxane Gay chose “Slaughterhouse Island,” about a long-ago houseboat rape and the continuing epidemic of campus sexual assault, for Not That Bad: Dispatches from a Rape Culture (HarperPerennial, 2018).

Editor Erin Wood chose “Burned Images,” an excerpt from Darkroom: A Family Exposure about a childhood accident, for Scars: An Anthology (Et Alia Press, 2015).

Editor Lee Gutkind chose “The Eleven-Minute Crib Nap,” about a baby who wants to be held and a mother who wants to write, for Oh Baby!: True Stories About Tiny Humans (In Fact Books, 2015).

Editor Joy Castro chose “Chewing Band-Aids: One Memoirist’s Take on Telling the Truth,” about the dangers of a kept secret, for Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family (University of Nebraska Press, 2013).

Editor Kate Hopper chose “Three Takes on a Jump” and “The Allergy Diaries,” about memory and fear, respectively, for Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers (Viva Editions, 2012).

Editors Dana Sullivan and Maureen Connelly chose “Weaning Ella,” about—you guessed it—weaning Ella and the changing shape of intimacy, for Unbuttoned: Women tell the truth about the pains, pleasures and politics of breastfeeding (Harvard Common Press, 2009).

Selected Essays

Jill began writing personal essays twenty years ago and since then she’s had the opportunity to work with some of the best editors in literary nonfiction, publishing essays in places like Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Iron Horse Literary Review, River Teeth: A Journal of Narrative Nonfiction (a magazine where she now serves as a senior editor), TriQuarterly, and many others. She’s also written for glossy magazines like Wondertime, Scholastic’s Parent & Child Magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Jill’s first full collection of essays, If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays will be released in the American Lives series from the University of Nebraska Press on September 1, 2022. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of some essays you can find online:

If you’re in the mood to have Jill read or talk to you …

Review of Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways

Check out my review of Brittany Means’s Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways.

If This Were Fiction

My new book is out! I’ve been writing essays for over fifteen years, and it’s been a glorious ride, but I’d never put out a collection of just Jill Christman essays between two covers …

If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays

If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays

If This Were Fiction is a love story—for Jill Christman’s long-ago fiancé, who died young in a car accident; for her children; for her husband, Mark; and ultimately, for herself. In this collection, Christman takes on the wide range of situations and landscapes she encountered on her journey from wild child through wounded teen to mother, teacher, writer, and wife. Published in the American Lives series from University of Nebraska Press September 2022.

“Mr. Cosmos” at New Ohio Review

The title character of “Mr. Cosmos” is my fifth-grade science teacher from Newbury Elementary School in Massachusetts—a man so wonderful he would leap on his desk and do interpretive dances …

Spinning: Against the Rules of Angels

Spinning: Against the Rules of Angels was Creative Nonfiction Magazine’s True Story. Issue #12, 2017. For years, Jill Christman has been waiting for her long-lost lover to communicate with her from beyond the grave. Finally, he walks into her early-morning exercise class, setting her world awhirl.


In teaching news, Ball State honored my work with a group of students dedicated to raising awareness and providing resources around the issue of sexual violence on our nation’s campuses with a 2021 Immersive Learning Faculty Award. If you’re a member of a university community, I hope you’ll check out the details of our project at IndeliblePodcast.com …


“Falling”—a longform essay—won the 2021 Iron Horse Literary Review Long Story Contest and was later released by IHLR released in a beautiful, illustrated, e-single that you can download for free. The essay’s core narrative chronicles the writer’s son’s fall from a sugar maple tree and explores how we navigate the scariest things and most profound losses.

Darkroom: A Family Exposure by Jill Christman

Darkroom: A Family Exposure

Winner of Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction, Darkroom: A Family Exposure is Jill Christman’s gripping, funny, and wise account of her first thirty years. Although her story runs the gamut of dramatic life events, including childhood sexual abuse, accidental death, and psychological trauma, Christman’s poignant memoir is much more than a litany of horrors; instead, it is an open-eyed, wide-hearted, and good-humored look at a life worth surviving.