writing Archive

Back to School Special: Thoughtful Imitation

Author: | Categories: Writing 1 Comment
I didn’t study creative writing as an undergraduate; it wasn’t an option. When I enrolled in the MFA program at University of Washington, what I craved more than workshop (which I’d experienced a few times in continuing education settings) was the elusive “craft” class: reading analytically not to make

Writers Do It Best: Robin McCarthy

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In the ‘Writers Do It Best’ series, contributors reflect on how their education and experiences as writers have uniquely prepared them for their lives outside the writing world. Today, we hear from Robin McCarthy, an MFA student studying fiction at Northern Michigan University.  You can follow Robin on Twitter

An MFA for the Rest of Us

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Writing 17 Comments
I’m in that small and shrinking group of writers who don’t have MFAs. Which I think makes me uniquely qualified to start my own MFA program. Haven’t most education reformers come from outside the system? My program will, for starters, involve napping and swimming pools. And the course offerings

The Ploughshares Round Down: 10 Times in Life When Writers Have the Upper Hand

Author: | Categories: Round-Up, Writing 2 Comments
I’ve interviewed a lot of entry level job candidates. I’ve had plenty of recent college graduates sent to a conference room to meet me with a strong thumbs-up from Human Resources. Bright, well-dressed, great resumes, and eager. This impresses the HR types. However, when I’d ask questions, especially follow-up

The New Generation of Gay Latino Poets

Author: | Categories: Reading 1 Comment
Some scholars say that Queer Latina/o writing is fast becoming a major core of the Latina/o literary canon. I say it’s the future of the canon altogether, with some of the most exciting, intelligent, and provocative American writing coming from the disciples of such luminaries as Cherríe Moraga, Rigoberto González,

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Fiction: Let’s Get Out of the Restaurant

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
“I need to tell you something,” he said. He twirled his spaghetti around his fork. She sipped her wine. “What is it?” “Well.” He shoved the tangle of spaghetti in his mouth and chewed. She fiddled with her spoon. Suddenly, the waitress appeared. She had a grease stain on

Retelling Tales: A Writer’s Guide

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So much of modern cinema and fiction revolves around the anti-hero and the sympathetic villain. Our culture seems to need our protagonists to be damaged or troubled in some way. It’s as if in some grand pursuit of Nietzsche’s rejection of absolutes, we can only accept shades of gray.

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Labels, Action, and Confidence

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
A couple weeks ago, author and marketer Ryan Holiday wrote a piece for Thought Catalog titled, “Can You Call Yourself a Writer?” In it, he argues that “[j]ust because you have done something, doesn’t mean you are something.” In other words, calling yourself a writer when the craft is a mere hobby

Huizache: The Biggest Little Secret in Texas

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing 1 Comment
As far as literary journal subscriptions go, I only maintain three. I’m one of those writers, and for my sins I mostly miss the great early pieces of writers I come to love years later. This is especially true of new Latina/o writers, who I think most people miss

A Checklist of Book Proposal Essentials to Go Through Before You Start Schmoozing Agents

In my wildest fantasies, an editor from Seal Press stumbles upon that personal essay I wrote about the awkwardness of babymaking sex—or the blog post I wrote about landing a husband despite being a crazy cat lady, or that other piece I wrote about my shifting body image—and feels compelled to email me,