Author: Cady Vishniac

How Not to Follow Up

Hey, writers, let’s talk submissions again! It’s been a while. I’ve previously written about what cover letters should look like, what stories you should probably not show litmags, other stories you should probably not show litmags, etc. I’d like to add to this a list of behavior you should never ever indulge in when following up on a submission, from the no-bullshit perspective of someone who spends a lot of time reading slush. If I reject you, please don’t write me back with some snide remark about how I’d like your work if only I were smarter or nicer. Why would you do this? All you have accomplished is that now you are on my permanent blacklist, and if I’m having a really annoying day, I will forward your mean email to your MFA program director or whichever magazine most recently published your work. Stop. Accept that you didn’t get in this time. I don’t get into places all the time. It happens. Please do not wait TWO DAYS and then email me to ask …

The Only Cover Letter Template You’ll Ever Need

Once, in undergrad, I submitted a story I wrote for my sophomore workshop to n + 1 and got a positive response, an interest in putting the thing in their next online issue if I could only revise it enough. I couldn’t revise it enough, because I was secretly the newest of writers, and anyway, I was busy working a job and an internship while carrying a full-time undergraduate course load and also raising a small child. Eventually, the editor who had expressed an interest stopped being as interested and moved to The New Yorker instead, and I published the thing in the print issue of a far less well-known magazine. It happens. That story was not my mature work, it was written before I’d had a good long sit-down-and-think about the politics of my art and my person, and I’m sort of (read: very) relieved it doesn’t exist on the internet. So there’s that. But at AWP this past week, I went up and retold the story to the current n + 1 staffpersons …

How to Win Contests, and Why

So I’ve won some contests. This started at the tail end of undergrad, and has continued into the present day. In the past year, I’ve won contests at New Letters, Mid-American Review, and New Millennium Writings. I placed second at Wag’s Revue immediately before that magazine shut down forever, and placed third in Glimmer Train, which was a pretty sweet get. I’ve been a finalist often enough that I no longer remember how many times that’s happened and where. I am currently, so far as I can tell, in second readings rounds at a couple places, and will probably, G-d willing, win some more contests in the future. But I actually have some mixed feelings about contests, and this is as good a place as any to discuss those feelings. First off, what kind of work wins contests? Highly polished work, sure, and good work, yes, but I think there’s more to it than that. This summer I attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. We ended up discussing contests during one workshop, and our instructor, …

What I Learned in Year One of an MFA Program

In this post I’m supposed to be wrapping up my academic year, only I’m in the odd situation of having no year to discuss. Which isn’t to say I haven’t, you know, been alive and attending an MFA since August. It’s just that I’ve used my platform here to give out advice about publishing and applying, because probably that’s the most helpful thing I can do for anybody reading this blog. And I don’t like to mention the inner workings of my program, the glory and the drama, because I’m trying to be discrete. Chill. Classy. As the great Amy Poehler once wrote, “I don’t want people to know my shit!” But fine, let’s discuss what I’ve been doing, and if y’all glean any lessons from it, then good for you. *** First, the boring professional stuff. The application story from my undergrad writing workshop at UMass Boston, which I submitted in order to get into this MFA, won a contest at New Letters. The first story I wrote was a huge floop that needs …