As you probably know, the host David Barr Kirtley is my boyfriend and all, but, I mean, he’s got some pretty tough podcast guest standards to meet.
One of the standards for Geek’s Guide’s writer guests is that they be actively publishing and/or building significantly toward their writing careers. And this past year, I guess I did just that. On top of writing new stuff, revising old stuff, submitting to literary magazines, and getting a piece accepted by Joyland, I also applied to 20 (yes, 20) creative writing MFA programs across the country. And because of this intense experience of eating, sleeping, and breathing MFA program research and applications for all of October 2018 through March 2019, he thought we should share all that knowledge with his listeners—especially concerning the current reception of speculative fiction in MFA programs.
My hope is that this list eventually becomes unwieldy and unnecessary as more and more MFA programs come to accept students based on the quality and craft of their writing alone, no matter how speculative or “genre” it may be.
Update: I appeared on episode 365 of WIRED’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast to talk about the reception of speculative fiction at MFA programs, along with Chandler Klang Smith (Columbia MFA grad, creative writing teacher at Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, and Sarah Lawrence College, and author of The Sky is Yours) and John Kessel, (co-founder and director of the North Carolina State University MFA and author of The Moon and the Other).
A while back, a former high school teacher of mine reached out and asked if a student of hers could send me some questions about being a writer. I felt like a hack since I haven’t really gotten too far in my writing career yet, but said yes anyway. I pretended to know a thing or two—and thought I’d share my answers publically in case there are any young writers out there who want some advice from a slightly less young writer. Continue reading “Emails to a Young Writer”→
I wondered if the fact that I’ve never been sexually assaulted might mean that I shouldn’t post. I figured that the small amount of harassment and bullying I’ve experienced, in the grand scheme of things, is not shout-worthy. I thought about all of my friends, both women and men, who have endured much, much worse.
Disturbing. If there’s “nothing wrong” with him, a boy who mercilessly killed nine African Americans at a Charleston church ceremony, then clearly there’s something wrong with the culture he was brought up in, the culture that allowed him to become this way. I suspect it’s both—he’s psychopathic, but also adopted his views from an abhorrent white supremacist undercurrent that is clearly still present today throughout the United States and on the internet.
There’s no denying that racism, unfortunately, exists. Which is why movements that tell the truth about people of color’s experiences, movements like #BlackLivesMatter, MATTER. If you oppose these sorts of movements, I think it’d be smart to re-think your own worldview and try to understand that your opposition aligns you much more closely with the views of monsters like Dylann Roof than you’d like. And if that statement gets you mad or disturbs you, then that’s good. But that means you’ve also got to become more conscious of your own biases that are making you opposed to people of color coming together and telling their side of the story.
Being any shade of racist is lazy—it takes work and patience to build your own compassion for people not like you. But working hard to achieve something, especially equality and freedom—for all—is the American way. If you’re a true patriot, it’s worth the effort.