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’ve been meaning to post this one for a while. A few months back, my friend Lia Ryerson sent this drawing of me out of the blue, and I just love it.
I’ve always, always been fascinated by illustrations and caricatures of real people—and it’s still on my half-existent NYC bucket list to get one done in Central Park one summer. In the meantime, Lia’s interpretation of my hair as spaghetti wrapped around a fork and a spoon is exactly what I needed.
This image is part of a series of “Anatomical Deviant” drawings Lia has done as an amuse bouche for her novel-in-progress, Bear Left, which is about a man named Nancy Critter who wakes up one morning to find that his two front teeth have grown overnight to reach below his chin. The drawing series includes me and my “pasghetti” hair, but also someone with a mushroom for a nose, someone with a boat for a mouth, and someone with camels for ears. Lia is an MFA creative writing student at The New School and is always up to something really cool, both in her life and in her writing. Keep an eye out!
Thanks to the talents of Madison Square Garden graphic designer and up-and-coming musician Brian Chin (who is also my good friend and former roommate), I now have a new banner for my website! He literally sent it to me yesterday, just in time for the beginning of 2017.
The new banner combines everything I love—the printed word, the handwritten word, sketches, and water color. If you look closely, you’ll see that Brian hand-drew the font and sketched not only books, but also a laptop, a spiral notebook, a coffee cup, and even a pencil. And that text in the background? Yeah it’s the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, one of my all-time favorite books.
You’ll also see a new image on the right side of this page that lets you sign up for my newsletter. As one of my goals in 2017, I’m going to start using MailChimp to update my subscribers whenever I have a new post on my site or any news to report (which means you’ll get an email maybe once a month, tops, since I’m pretty lazy). If you’re interested, please sign up for my mailing list by clicking that shiny new image! (Or just click here.)
And as is customary for a new year’s blog post, I suppose I should comment on 2016. I have a lot of friends who had the worst year of their lives. I have a lot of friends who had the best year of their lives. And I have a lot of friends who, despite their shock at what has become of the U.S. political scene, their sorrow over the loss of so many childhood heroes, and their horror at the many calamities happening around the world, still somehow managed to have a pretty good year both personally and professionally. This gives me hope that there’s always a spectrum, that a year can’t necessarily be summed up by one feeling or one event.
I was among those who had a pretty good year both personally and professionally. The biggest things, of course, involved getting back on the horse and saying “giddy up” to my writing productivity. I’m still working on sticking with good habits, but luckily I’m at the point where if I go for more than two weeks without doing any form of writing I start getting really uncomfortable and existential, and I start to berate myself. That’s healthy, right?
In summary, here is my 2016 year in review by the numbers:
60 submissions to literary and mainstream magazines and contests, which resulted in: