Month: January 2015

Getting Back Into the Submission Swing of Things

Towards the end of my fall semester, I started submitting to journals. I hadn’t submitted anything since last spring and it felt like the right time to start putting my new work out there once more. It’s hard; anything that involves possible rejection is hard. Some places have told me flat out no, others have said no thank you but please consider submitting more in the future, and a few have sent me acceptances. Rejection is strange. You receive enough and you start wondering if you’ll ever publish anything again. And then someone says yes and you feel silly for ever entertaining the thought. I used to love when my Duotrope list was long. Now the more submission responses I tick off, the better I feel. Getting rejections means getting the opportunity to send my poetry out to more places and to discover some new lit. magazines along the way. A couple of weeks ago I had a submissions party with a few friends. It was fun distracting each other, offering up journals where we thought …

Watch Your Step!

A couple of weeks ago, I did this really cool thing where I stepped off a curb into a storm drain. The drop was further than expected and onto an uneven surface and I double sprained my ankle (I simultaneously sprained the inside and outside of my ankle). I missed class. Which I can’t stand to do—no pun intended. I can count on one hand the number of classes I missed in 4 years of undergrad. The members of my cohort really came to my aid from taking me to the student health center, taking me to class and assisting me with my grocery shopping. My professor whose class I missed reached out several times to check-in on me. I felt well cared for and am ever grateful. Fortunately, I’m a writer and not an athlete, so I’ve still been able to get my reading and writing done. Although, not as much of either as I had planned. There’s something about being marooned on your bed that will drain the motivation from you to do …

January

Image: Emmanuel Keller So it seems always I am forgetting to include things in my posts and so I have to pick them up the following month. So I’ll bring up two such topics today. First, in November, I attended my first-ever thesis defense. It was for my friend Vicky, who was finishing her MA in English. Her thesis was on the use of video games as instructional tools within the composition classroom, and, in particular, with how she used the game Portal in her class. I was surprised at how a thesis defense actually looked. About 25 of us crammed into a conference room, around a table, with Vicky and her committee at the head. I had always envisioned this sort of thing as being much more formal, with a lectern and rows of audience and the committee sitting like a panel. And the committee asked her a handful of questions about her thesis, and she responded. This took about forty-five minutes. Then we all hung out outside the conference room to await the decision, …

Now What?: The Waiting Game in the Application Process

There is a reason why things happen the way they happen, and you might think I’m full of crap for saying that, but it’s true.

So let’s go through all the scenarios to assuage your fears.

The Writer of Color’s Agenda & How to Champion Your Otherness

You will get accepted into an MFA program. You might get accepted into several MFA programs. You have spent a lot of money on applications. It’s time you decide how to make this transition possible. With no money, so much is possible in the sphere of dreams. But you’re a writer of color. It has taken you so much effort to get here. You’re in debt. You’ve spent weeks, months, or years explaining to people in your community why you’ve decided to pursue this route. You have translated what an MFA means into Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Mandarin, Bengali, Arabic, Somali, Yoruba, and Private Language. The future will often appear bleak, like a crow that has to dream before it can fly. How many synonyms can you come up with to describe race politics, linguistic diversity, heteronormativity, public aid, or “I, too, have the right to be here”? You will either own a car or take public transportation. On the bus, you might learn more about yourself than if you spend that much time in …

Semester Two Starts with Snow Days

This semester started with a blizzard. Or, at least the threat of a blizzard that was serious enough for classes to be canceled. In the end, those of us living in NYC were spared the brunt of the storm but classes were still cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. My colleagues at the Southampton Stony Brook campus also had classes cancelled Wednesday due to snow clean up. Strange way to start the semester – snowed in or shoveling out – but there you have it. Over the break I spent a few weeks visiting family and, truth be told, I didn’t write a word for weeks. Didn’t even open my laptop for nearly three of the six weeks off. And it felt good. I think I needed to have the break and just focus on people I hadn’t seen in far too long. Now that I’m home, however, I’m finding it harder than I’d expected to get back into the swing of things. Most certainly my writing mind will take over again once we’ve started classes …

Let’s Break Things: New Year, New Workshop

Last night, I had my first workshop of the semester. Manuel Gonzales is teaching this time around. Because our class didn’t meet until so late in January (most classes started on the 14th), we spent half an hour introducing ourselves and our work, then jumped straight into two focused hours of workshop. An upbeat atmosphere, but no nonsense either. And let me tell you, I am really excited about this semester. Manuel has been communicating with us since November about his workshop philosophy and how the class would be organized. Since we started two weeks late, essentially, he also gave us some reading to do over winter break. We read five books: Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee, I Am Not Jackson Pollock by John Haskell, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, and Open City by Teju Cole. All of these were to be read by the first day of class. We also have a packet of essays and short stories to read by the …

The Waiting Game

It seems fitting, since my last post went up on the eve of the Full Moon, to check back in with my January goals and to-do lists today–the day after the New Moon. I should preface this by saying that I’m no hardcore astrologer. Not even close. But I do think there’s something comforting about the patterns, the signifiers, the very literal ebb and flow that moves us like clockwork from one month to the next; and at a time like this, when life is so very full and also so very much on the cusp of big change, I find myself a little more inclined to factor in things like moons and signs, intentions and Mercurial wanderings. So here we are: January 21, 2015. Yesterday was a Super Moon, the New Moon in Aquarius; and today, Mercury goes retrograde (thank you, Mystic Mamma, for the update). I confess: I’ve become something of a Mystic Mamma junkie. Not that I read every single thing posted to this particular astrology blog…but I DO keep coming back …

2015 Notifications

If you’re wondering whether applicants have heard back from programs, check out GradCafe. We’d recommend searching for “creative writing,” “fiction” and/or “poetry.”

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With Sarah Abbott

For the next two months we’ll be asking some of our first year contributors to talk about the post application period and how they dealt with it last year. What did you do to get through the post application period? I signed up to take a self-defense class. It was my last semester of undergrad, so it was an “easy” credit hour, but it conveniently allowed me to punch and kick things every time the waiting got to be too much, or when I got another rejection from a dream school. The physical activity helped clear my mind and press reset. Staying busy with other things, as hard as it may be, is much more useful than researching when your schools notified over the last ten years or checking Draft for the millionth time. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? I was lucky enough to have several great mentors. They all independently told me not to pay for an MFA. Fully funded or bust. I know this is standard advice, but the fact …