Sometimes insight hits me when I least expect it. Like last night, tired from not sleeping the night before and finishing my read of Creative Nonfiction, Spring 2012 edition. I've posted on this publication before – it's a good one, and open to N/F writers of all persuasions and reputations.
But one thing I realized from the reading: the essays they seem to like are written in disparate modules, subjects seemingly unconnected, but drawn together by writers' insights and skill in writing. But the editors seem to conceptualize each edition, drawing together essays in similar fashion – seemingly unconnected.
My insight: If you're a writer and aspiring to be published in CNF magazine, or any other, the writer's reality is that it's not enough to write in the mag's accepted style, or to write exceptionally well. You're subject to the whims of fate, because CNF – or any other mag – will have enough submittals for any edition to establish at least a tenuous concept for the issue. Such is always out of the writer's control or ability to anticipate.
Advice: For this reason, don't take rejection personally, and keep submitting to a variety of publications. Soon you'll hit the writer's lottery and submit a piece exactly along the lines a given mag is looking for in an issue.