Month: February 2016

Generosity in the Workshop

  Image: Ignacio B. Peña In the last few weeks I have been reminded of one of the most important lessons when approaching our fiction workshops: it is crucial never to forget to be generous to your fellow writers. When I began the creative writing course here in Edinburgh, we met in a big room where all the masters students, fiction and poetry, were given the rundown by the lecturers of the program; and at one point our course director (pretty sure it was our course director) said something along the lines that “the workshop is the centerpiece of why we are here.” And so while our course is essentially divided into thirds each week (one day for our writing workshop, one day for our lit class, one day for our fiction seminars), we are here to write, and so each day is structured with a focus to what we produce for our workshops, with an aim to better our writing. At this stage in the academic year, we’ve crossed the halfway mark in our …

Lessons in Lasagna For MFA Applicants

Tis the season for hearing back from M.F.A programs. Not only are people hearing back about fall but they are still applying to  workshops and fellowships for Summer. The next few weeks will determine where cohorts of people land, where people move, what they will pack, where they will live. Anywhere from the next few months to the next three years are being decided in these moments. I know it seems silly to give a lasagna recipe in the midst of all the decision making, chaos and motion so I won’t. To quote Lil’ Wayne “real G’s move in silence like lasagna”.   Granted this is not the best line in music, in my opinion it’s not even the best line that Wayne has said. The point is that there is a value to silence, and keeping some things close to the vest. There is value in not letting excessive opinions, and agendas into the process of how you live the next months and years of your life. It should go without saying that those …

What Now? A Prospective Student Guide

As applicants receive long-awaited decisions from schools, some may suddenly find themselves in the enviable yet excruciating position of having to decide between two or more programs. I remember the days of making pro/con lists, justifications to best friends, logical deductions that flew out the window once another factor (money, location, teaching load) added itself to the mix. In 2013, I didn’t have that luxury; I had only been admitted to one graduate program in another discipline and been waitlisted at three MFA programs. I waited out those waitlists as long as I could, even visiting my current program because I was next in line. Although I was upset at the time that I didn’t get off any lists, the final decision was made for me if I wanted to go to graduate school that year. 2015 was a different story. I applied to only two of my favorite programs and subsequently forgot about them a bit (probably a coping mechanism from my first go-round), focusing hardcore on getting a job. When I got the …

Dealbreakers: Reasons I Vote Not to Accept a Story

Hello hello, Cady again. How are you? Want to hear something neat? My post from last month has garnered thirty-six comments (more actually, but some of those comments were unhelpful and got deleted) along with about 4700 views. Clearly y’all like to get the inside scoop on literary magazine submissions. That’s cool. Always happy to oblige. Especially because many of you, who started reading this blog for help with your MFA applications, are probably thinking about sending out those application stories. So the important lesson with submissions is not to be wasting your time and effort (and Submittable fees) the way I did in undergrad, throwing stuff at whatever literary magazines you’ve maybe heard of and seeing what sticks. Don’t submit the same story forever and tell yourself it’s getting turned down because you’re too innovative, or because you don’t have an MFA, or because the process is just so random. Probably none of these things are true in your case. Really. And more importantly, believing any of these things is a way to hurt …

Don’t Speak

Image credit: Miki Yoshihito I don’t talk. At least not in class. I am the person in the back corner of the classroom diligently taking notes who always knows what’s going on but doesn’t say a word. And I’m more than comfortable in that role. I like that role, especially since coming back to school. From that first day about two years ago on I got it in my head that I was behind the rest of my classmates somehow in education and ability. Listening to the discussions around me was my way of catching up to them. Plus, I’ve always been a better writer than speaker. I knew I could show my knowledge through the papers and essays assigned. I was more than fine trading in class participation grade for not embarrassing myself in front of everyone. Back in January, before the start of my final semester of undergrad, I made it a goal of mine to speak more, to participate more, to not just be the girl in the back of the room …

THERE IS TIME IN A TEPEE.

THE BRUTAL REALITY OF TIME-MANAGEMENT Facing the sixth week of term two, if I had a dime for every time I said, “man, this MFA-thingy is really getting in me way of me ole’ writing” I’d have, say, twelve sixty. Today I was told I have a comma problem. I said I’m Canadian. The cowboy-prof laughed, chaps ajangle. They don’t use Oxford commas in Oxford and slipping non-existent punctuation into quotes is as stupid as owning a gun. When Trump gets my vote, I might change my mind, if it still works. Tax time approaches, I’m afraid to log into accounts. But the G-men are docking my funding at thirty-five percent. Emails go unanswered. Deadlines and deadline and deadlines are met or discarded or cussed. I’ve stopped counting words and running. Now I count the minutes. I’ve started the William Shatner diet—a burrito a day at 9am. Keeps the healthcare away. I’m taking editing and style, fiction and non. I’ve started reading in the shower. Of course, my eyes are bigger than my belly and my …