If you’re interested in honing your writing skills outside of the traditional classroom you have a lot of options. I’ve been cobbling together my own DIY MFA curriculum over the past several years through a combination of reading craft books, taking online classes and in-person workshops, and attending writing conferences and retreats. My path has been less a strategic plan of attack and more a meandering exploration. It’s worked well for me, but I have some tips and thoughts to share that are useful even if you prefer a direct route.
At the beginning of this year I mentioned in a post that I had recently submitted something to a literary journal after an unplanned break in writing:
Brevity, a journal and website I thoroughly enjoy, was seeking submissions for an upcoming episode of their podcast. They were looking for ‘One-Minute Memoir episodes,’ pieces up to 150 words (on paper) and up to one minute (recording time). On the day submissions closed, I pulled something together and sent it off with an hour to spare.
As someone very new to submitting my work, it was an amusing ride on an unfamiliar roller-coaster and an embarrassing peek into the ego of a writer. What follows is a play by play of my experience with two recent submission from beginning to end.
Shift perspective to the perspective of a 5 year old. The perspective of a perceptive 5 year old who knows how to fly. Not like a superhero. No fist punching through the air. More like floating. 2-3 feet off the ground, max. 5 year old forced perspective on high alert.
Pink flamingos bending into pink flowers, popping out of dull drippy fog.
Shadows sharp at a particular time of year, month, day, hour, minute, second.
I’m not into superheroes, but I do enjoy a good origin story. I like to know where people come from, how they ended up where they are, and what led them to their areas of interest—professional and personal. And if you’re a writer, I especially want to know how you got started. Were you one of those kids who kept a daily journal starting in second grade, never missing an entry? Or was it encouragement from a beloved middle school English teacher? Did you have the support of parents? Or was writing almost an illicit activity, something you hid from friends and family?
This piece was previously published on shakeyourcookie.com, my weird blog, on 1/9/2018 with the title “Order to Chaos—A Tiny Rant About Why Cooks Mmmmmmmight Be Crazy.” I got super bored with it being a food blog so, I started to tell stories about life and cooking and other stuff so that I would start posting again and so it would be fun to write. It’s so much more fun.
*Disclaimer: not all cooks are crazy. that’s not true. all cooks are batshit*
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that most professional cooks are a fairly broken bunch of folks.
One could even say “mentally ill” if one was to forgo diplomacy. Having worked in kitchens for many years and living with myself for even more, I cannot debate this theory. I am, however, going to try to defend it. Or, at least myself.