Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Top 5 Necessary Follows for Reading and Writing

Source. Downtowne Books, Riverside, CA.

Source. Downtowne Bookstore, Riverside, CA.

While I was in undergrad, it felt stupid-easy to keep track of important readings, literary goings-on, and overall Creative Writing drama because I was surrounded by people who knew all the info I didn’t know. I could smile and nod as professors spoke about things like “Pushcart nominees” and “National Book Awards” and “a big reading in LA.” I was, for all intents and purposes, a literary leech, but it worked.

This leeching completely shifted once I graduated; all of a sudden, I felt like this literary conversation was still happening, but three blocks away from me and on the nicer side of town. And, as is true for most things after college, I had to figure out how to get information on my own. For the sake of entering that conversation, here’s my list of resources I’ve used over the past year to stay in the loop and learn new things about writing, reading, and publishing.

1. Literary Hub’s newsletter. Oh, blessed be this list. Aside from hosting tons of great features, Lit Hub compiles articles of note from around the web and delivers them to your inbox on the daily. The links range from interviews to articles about writing, and span the gamut of websites emerging writers should know (The Millions, LARB, and The Rumpus, among others). The best part: in case you forget to check out a link, or accidentally delete a daily as you’re frantically clearing all the potentially virus-heavy spam from your Gmail, Lit Hub sends a weekly aggregate of the biggest stories.

2. Electric Literature’s Recommended Readings. On the whole, Electric Literature is a wonderful website to have bookmarked, favorited, and frequently viewed, but its Recommended Readings Tumblr specifically features beautiful (and weekly) new stories recommended by editors and writers. Featuring both familiar and emerging authors, each story is accompanied by an in-depth editor’s note. It’s a lit journal without the commitment, and if you’re an inbox-happy person like I am, you can subscribe to get an email every time a new story is published.

3.  Short Story Thursdays. New fiction is vital, but keeping up with the classics is also a necessary part of being a well-read and decent human being. Short Story Thursdays follows a simple philosophy: email shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com to join, and then read the classic story that is sent to you every Thursday. Each email is prefaced by a beautiful, meandering, and occasionally violent intro from founder Jacob Tomsky, which adds to the charm of each story and potential shame of not reading them.

4. The Nervous Breakdown’s Book Club. It’s super easy to fall into a rut of reading the same type of fiction, especially if you’re like me and think literary fiction is a huge and stupid label and how do I even find what’s happening from smaller presses? TNB’s book club sends its members a book every 30 days for $10 per month. It’s an endlessly easy way to read a diverse range of authors and genres (fiction/nonfiction/memoirs/everything), and you can become that cool person who lends books out to people because “It reminded me of you, yo.” As an added bonus, each featured author is later interviewed by the website’s founder on Otherppl, a literary podcast that has become a staple of my otherwise non-literary commute.

5. Twitter. Yes. Twitter. All of it. When I graduated, I went on a frenzy and found as many literary magazines/organizations I could find, and followed the hell out of them. If you lurk your Twitter feed and infrequently tweet like I do, there are so many benefits to this act of frantic lit following: not only do you get to keep track of any open submission periods, but it also exposes to you to the variety of journals available as other journals become recommended to you and, occasionally, cold-follow you. The Reject Pile is one such follow that I’m super excited to track once it gets up and running, primarily so I can submit all my future rejections in a show of “I’m okay, I’m a writer, I’m okay.”

Those are the resources I’ve grown to love since I graduated — what websites do you use to keep track of new releases and the latest lit news? And yes, it feels strange and awkward to write that as a question into a blog article. But you should tell me anyway, so I can check it out. Yes? Do it.

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5 Ways Postgrad Life is a Series of Interconnected Ironies

Photo by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS

Photo by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS

  1. You have the means and motivation to buy Poptarts in bulk, but exercise enough self-control to only buy small boxes at a time. You understand, on some level, that this habit is more expensive over time, but it shields you from the judging eyes of perceptive cashiers who can tell, somehow, that you are not buying that family-sized pack of pastries for a family of four.
  1. You filed taxes this year because your mom set up a Turbotax account for you, and then on April 14th when she asked how they went, you groaned sonorously from the couch. She ended up filing everything for you and getting a decent return because, as she said, you filed as an independent this year, a statement that carried such a great amount of irony that you laughed and laughed and laughed.
  1. You applied for a service industry job to get some “life experience in the trenches,” and expected to work with some high school punks slinging coffee beans like they’re hot, or whatever. Instead you were faced with mirrored images of you — other postgrads who had applied years ago, back when the largest drink size was a venti, and remained because the benefits were good and pay was decent. You also work with a few punks who are actually reasonably good kids trying to get themselves through college and out of, and then back into, this spin-cycle of minimum wage perpetuity. You actually enjoy your work until around the third month, when a kindly customer asks about your future plans and you say you’re getting ready to go to graduate school/a salaried job/the Peace Corps soon, even though you haven’t done much more than click over to Stanford.edu and glare.
  1. You visit your college and grab a drink with friends who have yet to graduate, and when they ask about postgrad life you sip slowly from a dark beer and ponder the question. A cigarette (lit or unlit, nothing matters anymore) is in your hand. They repeat the question because you haven’t said anything for a solid minute. You sip again and cough because that sip was all foam. Instead of replying you get up, drop a number of bills on the table that may or may not have equaled your total, and consider the idea that everything is ahead of you, that you’ve studied and graduated without quite knowing what you were preparing for, that your entire life is composed of a series of choices that rest largely on your shoulders and that you either need to start choosing now or remain behind the register forever.
  1. You buy a family-size pack of Poptarts and eat them in your car because you goddamn can.

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