As I approach the final few classes of my MFA program, I find myself panicking. How does a writer keep producing in the shadows, in the absence of the light and accountability of the MFA workshop? Former Butler U classmate and MFA-wielding goddess Eliza Tudor was kind enough to share her 7-point survival guide, to be published in installments here on Writerly. Part 1 . . .
A Survival Guide to Bridge the Worlds of MFA-Candidate and MFA-Wielding God/Goddess
Make sure you are reading. Books, literary magazines—in print and online, newspapers, ANYTHING…but make it NEW. You have to be a consumer of new writing as well as your oldies but goodies. About halfway through the program I had a mad case of MFA-burnout and began asking writer friends for suggestions. This helped. I began reading new magazines, new writers, listening to new podcasts and visiting new sites.
It does make me want to get a little smacky-smacky when I hear writers say, in whispered tones, “I don’t really read literary magazines.” Well, that’s a problem. The fact is there is a lit mag for everyone—slipstream, genre-based, anything and everything. Look online!
Also backtrack: find a writer you love and see where their work was published—then look for another story in that mag that you like—then look and see what other mags that writer was published in. Ask your program for a stack of magazines. Ask a mag you like for back issues. Get subscriptions for your birthday. We all get in reading ruts, but the thing is you can’t stay that way. Read something new. Think of it this way if it helps: NO ONE WILL PUBLISH YOUR WORK UNLESS YOU SUBSCRIBE TO AT LEAST THREE LITERARY MAGAZINES (and you must read them).