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10 creative writing graduate degree programs in Los Angeles (PhD, MFA, MA)

10 creative writing graduate degree programs in Los Angeles (PhD, MFA, MA)

The issue of whether or not writers should get an MFA is one fraught with controversy — and I won’t tackle that here. But if you’re interested in getting a graduate degree in creative writing — without leaving the beach, the palm trees, the great weather, and diverse population of this city — here are 10 local programs to consider. For this list, I defined Los Angeles widely — and included programs that you could conceivably drive to while living in the city of LA proper. That said, I left out San Diego. I realize some people are willing to make that commute, but I personally think it’s kind of crazy — I tried to give some idea of the funding available (fully funded means the school will cover your tuition and give you a stipend — either in the form of fellowships or teaching assistantships — for the duration of your time in the program) — but I didn’t list actual tuition costs, which vary very widely. I also tried to distinguish core faculty (full time and dedicated to the program) from adjunct or visiting faculty that teach one-off courses — but in the case of the low-residency programs, […]

11 reasons to attend the Tin House Winter Workshops

11 reasons to attend the Tin House Winter Workshops

Thinking about a writer’s getaway this winter? Read on to see if the Tin House Winter Workshops — which I attended early this year — might be a good fit for you. 1. You need a vacation. A weekend away spent on a gorgeous beach sounded like a dream to me. And at $1300 for the hotel, all breakfasts, a five-course dinner, plus cocktail parties in the evenings — not to mention the actual writing program itself!! — the price felt alright (I realize opinions will differ on the reasonableness of the price). 2. You’d like to see the Oregon Coast. Once I got to the Tin House offices in Portland, I quickly met the other workshop participants — before we piled into a van and headed up up to Newport. There, we were dropped off at the hotel, located on a gorgeous 45-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific. 3. The idea of staying at a literary-themed hotel makes you happy. Each of the 21 rooms at the Sylvia Beach Hotel are individually themed around a famous author. I got the Dr. Seuss room! Most of the rooms are more — sedately decorated — if the bright yellow’s too much for […]

5 important resources for women writers

5 important resources for women writers

Every year we see articles bemoaning the dearth of women writers — on award lists, bestseller lists, magazine bylines, and more. But feminist lit groups are working to change that! Here are five moving things forward to get involved with: Bindercon. Described as “the conference and community for women and gender noncoforming writers,” Bindercon hosts two conferences a year — one in NYC, one in Los Angeles. The two-day events are full of keynotes and panels, tackling everything from basic writing advice (how to pitch articles) to larger political issues (writing about reproductive rights and justice). I moderated a panel on creating a writing community at Bindercon LA earlier this year, and loved taking part in the exciting and warm conference. The next conference happens in NYC Oct. 29-30, and is currently seeking volunteers! VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. This feminist nonprofit’s best known for its annual VIDA count, a report that studies who’s getting published in literary journals and whose books are getting reviewed — then crunches the numbers to give us some concrete stats showing current gender imbalances in publishing. The group’s larger mission is to draw attention to literary gender disparities — and to address them by […]

5 must-read self-help books for writers that aren't about writing

5 must-read self-help books for writers that aren’t about writing

There are hundreds of books out there about improving your writing — but if you’re like me, the challenge comes a little before that, in getting yourself to write in the first place. It is strange: Why do I so often resist doing that which I say I really want more time to do? I have friends who marvel at the fact that I read 100+ books each year, but the main reason I read so much is because it’s my favorite “productive” way of procrastinating on writing. In fact, I read a lot of self-help books, which I used to be kind of embarrassed about but have now just learned to embrace by calling them personal development books. Here are five fantastic personal development books that are NOT directly about writing — but that nonetheless got me to write more, edit more, submit more, and just generally do more of the writerly things I really do want to do: 1. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp. The title kind of reveals why this book might be relevant to creative writers. Twyla Tharp, dancer and choreographer extraordinaire, argues in this book that creative […]

5 things to look for in a writing residency

5 things to look for in a writing residency

Life getting in the way of your writing? If you’ve been thinking, “My book would be finished already, if I could just get away somewhere quiet and write for a few weeks — away from work, responsibilities, everyone I’ve ever met, sushi restaurants, Pokemon Go….” — then it might be time to consider a writing residency. Writing residencies, for those unfamiliar with them, basically give you a place to get away from your regular life for a little while, so you can focus on your writing. To get a residency, you generally need to put together an application with a writing sample, artist’s statement, work proposal, CV, and/or other materials. There are hundreds of different writing residencies offered around the world (Poets & Writers keeps a good, if incomplete, list), and they all have different application processes. Each application requires time, effort, and money (there’s usually an application fee) on your part — So it’s a good idea to pick wisely the places you decide to apply. I’m actually in the middle of a writing residency at The Anderson Center at Tower View right now — in a tiny town called Red Wing in Minnesota! Here, I’m living in a […]

7 Steps I took to find my literary agent

7 Steps I took to find my literary agent

It’s gotten a bit better now, but I used to be a really terrible procrastinator. I did everything I didn’t need to do while procrastinating on the one thing I purportedly really, really wanted to do: write. Then I complained about how I had no time to write. Best way to procrastinate on writing while clinging to your identity as a writer: Do things vaguely related to writing that don’t actually require you to write. (Remember that Ze Frank video? Take on tasks that give you “the illusion that you’re getting closer to the thing you’re trying to avoid.”) Which is to say — Long before I’d even written a publishable manuscript, I’d read everything I could on publishing. This included a whole bunch of personal stories and how to articles on finding an agent. The experience left me more confused than empowered, because the advice varied so much. Many writers had found writers through connections in the literary community: a friend or mentor’s agent had taken them on, or a story publication got the attention of an agent who reached out. But I had neither a robust literary network nor list of publications to brag about at that point. […]