Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 1

It’s been a whirlwind of a semester. I had six textbooks, so today I’m going to share my thoughts on the first three. These are from the Art of series by Graywolf Press, edited by Charles Baxter roughly 14 years ago. Since an MFA student first recommended The Art of Subtext to me, I’ve beenContinue reading “Fiction Seminar Textbooks: Part 1”

Three Literary Journals I’m Reading Right Now

One of my Accessible MFA assignments this semester is to read more literary journals. It’s a no-brainer: If you want to publish, you should read outlets where you’d like to see your work printed. But it’s also something I’ve just never got around to. Mainly because there are just SO. MANY. GODDAMN. LITERARY. JOURNALS. IContinue reading “Three Literary Journals I’m Reading Right Now”

Fiction Seminar Syllabus

Half the fun of doing an Accessible MFA in Creative Writing is planning it. It’s been a blast to put together this latest course, and I think it fits well with the rest of my program. So today I’m sharing my plan for this semester. Of course, with chronic migraines, my semesters are all outContinue reading “Fiction Seminar Syllabus”

Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA

CONTENT WARNING Now that I’ve finished my literary theory class, it’s on to the next course in my Accessible MFA: a fiction seminar. Full disclosure, I copied a lot of this from novelist Lily Hoang’s syllabus, which she generously shared on HTML Giant. Of course I chose my own textbooks, set up my own schedule,Continue reading “Spring Semester Scandal at My MFA”

What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?

Literary theory is a trip. I just spent a year studying this for the first semester of my Accessible MFA. I watched Professor Paul Fry’s 26 introductory lectures at Yale. I created a JSTOR account (for free) so that I could read most of the assigned readings. And I bought The Norton Anthology of TheoryContinue reading “What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?”

Literary Theory: The Class Everyone Loves to Hate

Different institutions give it various names. Narrative Strategies. Textual Strategies. Literary Theory. Readers and Writers. But whatever you call it, it’s usually one of the first required classes. It’s also the class I’ve heard the most MFA graduates groan about. What’s the point? I’m never going to use this stuff. So, here I am, making upContinue reading “Literary Theory: The Class Everyone Loves to Hate”

Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment

Lately, I’ve been reading through elite literary journals, and I have to say I’m disappointed. Thanks to #MeToo, Hollywood had a reckoning, and now viewers and producers alike cringe at male characters pursuing women who have directly asked them to stop (Parks and Rec, The Office, all Star Trek before the exceptional Discovery, The Big Bang Theory, etc.).Continue reading “Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment”

The Hazards–and Rewards–of Literature for the Feminist

Nothing like old love to remind you of who you have been, and who you have become. So I just picked up my favorite novel for yet another re-reading. At 17, when Mr. Hansen assigned All the King’s Men for my Honors English class, it was love at first sight. The first-person narrator, Jack Burden, ranks among AmericanContinue reading “The Hazards–and Rewards–of Literature for the Feminist”

Responsible Fiction: Toe to Toe with Difference

Writers have to get outside their own skin. But sometimes I get overeager to inhabit differences. And I write about characters I have no chance of understanding. So I just finished revisions on a short story about an Ethiopian immigrant who runs into his past. At the grocery store, he comes across a woman who witnessed anContinue reading “Responsible Fiction: Toe to Toe with Difference”

Revenge and Justice

It seems I write mostly about revenge. All my characters are exacting some kind of revenge. Or think they are. Yet I feel ambivalent about it. Is revenge justice? It can feel that way. But it’s a retributive justice. A justice that retaliates. And it always seems to cost something. Mattie, in True Grit, losesContinue reading “Revenge and Justice”