All posts tagged: First year contributor

Rachel Heng Introduction (Michener Center for Writers ’20)

Image: Nick Page In two days I will fly to Austin to start my MFA, but for now I find myself in the living room of my flat in London, surrounded by very large piles of clothes. Turns out shipping things across the Atlantic is eye-wateringly expensive (duh, what did I think), so I’ve spent the last few days trying to give away/donate/throw out most of my belongings. I am an unapologetic hoarder. I own movie stubs from 2008 and cut-off shorts from 2003 (that I have last worn when I was literally 14. 14.) and pebbles plucked off a beach in 1999. My husband’s wedding vows contained the line, “In the past 8 years, I have watched you collect about 1 million items.” All my other international moves had been for work and therefore paid for, so I’ve never had to throw anything out before. Every last half-used notebook, every last ticket stub came with me, from Singapore to New York, New York back to Singapore, Singapore to London. But now, for the first …

“I Think You Have More to Offer As An Author.”

This sentiment was said to me twice regarding my first assignment for my workshop class. I decided to make a comic deconstructing the Dirty Harry/Judge Dredd type of protagonist in Hollywood action movies and ’90s superhero comics: violent, brutal enforcers of authoritarianism and fascism masquerading as relatable anti-heroes. I was trying to critique the manipulation of sympathy in these stories by way of revealing these characters to be the kind of unsavory maniacs they would be in real life. The first time, it was said by my professor who utterly failed to understand what my story was doing. But I admit that my execution fell short in the first draft and she was trying to be encouraging, after a fashion. It was a backhanded compliment, but still a compliment, so I took it in stride. I heard this phrase again after a round of revisions, but from one of my  classmates. This time, it was less compliment and more backhand. He didn’t like reading a story with such a cynical tone and unsympathetic protagonist, saying …

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 …

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Week One: Laziness and Me

Image: Tom Gill For my first semester, I opted not to take any writing workshops. I wanted to get back to the basics – language, sentences structure, form. I’m taking three classes:  Intro to Graduate Writing, Forms of Non-fiction: The Essay, and Forms of Fiction: The Short Story. Next week, I’ll tell you a little bit more about each, in addition to how I’m making ends meet, and attempting to be a full-time daughter, girlfriend, and friend. But, right now, I want to tell you about what I’ve learned. After one week of classes, I’ve learned two things: I do not have a writing process, and I have never given much thought to the process of writing, and I am more concerned with what writing is doing for me, as opposed to what it’s doing for the reader. These facts make me a terrible writer. The reason I do not have a writing process is because, for a while, writing came naturally to me. Characters, stories, and scenes came so easily I could barely contain …