Last week we wrote about some cover letter don’ts, including the importance of doing at least a minor amount of research before submitting to a literary magazine. Today we’re offering a quick roundup of a few more no-nos.
Because again, while you’re unlikely to be rejected based solely on your cover letter, a crappy cover letter leaves a crappy first impression, and you don’t want an editor, upon entering the world of your beautiful writing, to be carrying a crappy first impression.
Equate your cover letter with the first few seconds of a job interview
Your resume and bona fides, your verbal eloquence, your brilliant time- and money-saving ideas for the company–all of this can be undone before it’s even done if you show up late, unkempt, with a turkey ‘n’ pesto sandwich on your face and a string of TP stuck to your shoe. Your resume, communication skills, etc.–in our case, your writing, the submission itself–is what gets you hired, but if your first impression (cover letter) sucks, well, you ain’t gettin’ the job. read more
During the five or so years I worked at Fringe Magazine I was the only dude on staff. Fringe was created by an immensely talented band of women who were tired of, among other things, the attention heaped on the writings of so many white male writers (particularly the dead ones).
Fringe’s first theme issue was Feminism.
So when a literary journal is staffed almost exclusively by women, and is particularly interested in matters related to gender, addressing a submission to “Dear Sirs” is like shooting yourself right in the ol’ onions.
But that’s what many, many dozens of writers did during my tenure there. I don’t have hard evidence to back up the following assertion, but I’m fairly confident in saying that we accepted 0% of them. read more
In response to our latest email, which itself was a response to WriteByNight writing coach Steve Adams‘ recent Talking Writing essay “Money is Random,” several of you addressed our sign-off question, “What do you think makes a writer legitimate?” We’ve selected a few of these to share with you today:
David R. reflects on the moment he sensed his own legitimacy confirmed:
I dunno. I wrote for free for years to get my name out there and was quite prolific. I thought of myself as perfectly legitimate then, but when I got my first advance that sealed it for me. I understand writing is an art form and writers should do it because they love it, but in my opinion that’s what everyone should do … what they love doing.
Meanwhile, for Jackson M. the answer boils down to two simple, but often elusive, attributes:
I’ll go with honesty and compassion. I think those are the two most important elements to making a writer “legit.” read more
Last week we introduced you to new writing coach/consultant Tatiana Ryckman. Today we welcome to WriteByNight Resa Alboher, founding editor of St. Petersburg Review and lecturer at the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia, and at the American Center of the Russian State University for the Humanities.
Below is a Q&A with Resa, followed by a bio.
How did you get your start as a writer?
When I was three years old and up until the age where I could write by myself, I dictated stories to my mother, who would kindly and patiently write them down, first in expert shorthand and then translated into her lovely cursive script to accompany my illustrations which mostly were composed of stick figures with faces and shocks of curly hair, a yellow globe with radiating spikes to depict a sun, another green globe on a stick of brown serving as a tree, a square with a triangle that was the house where the stick figure people lived, and where the globe of yellow shined down upon its roof. read more
Today, please join us in welcoming Tatiana Ryckman to WBN. Tatiana, an Austin-based editor and writer, is the author of the story collection Twenty-Something and has run writing workshops for UT-Austin and Badgerdog.
Below is a Q&A with Tatiana, followed by a brief bio.
Where are you from?
Cleveland, Ohio. A friend of mine once called it the New Jersey of the Midwest . . . and that feels true. read more
Today I forced myself to reread some of my first published writing. I say forced because that’s what it takes; I absolutely cannot stand to revisit my early attempts at trying to sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s difficult enough to reread recent work—I only do it if I have to. I despise everything I wrote yesterday. I hate this post already.
I’m certainly not alone: reading your own writing seems an almost universal difficulty. We asked on Twitter and Facebook if other writers feel the same as we do, and with only one or two exceptions, the response makes it clear that most writers struggle when revisiting their old work.
WBN coach Kirstin Chen says that, like me, she despises her own writing and doesn’t read it unless she has to. “I haven’t even listened to the audio version of my book,” she tweeted. “And I don’t think I ever will.”
(Reminds me of that scene in Seinfeld where George has to listen to the audiobook version of a risk management textbook but then discovers that the voice actor sounds exactly like himself.)
About her own published work, Austin’s Alyssa Harad tweeted that she’d “prefer to forget about it entirely.”
I would too, especially judging by its placement on our bookshelf, the photo of which you can see atop this post. read more
Oregon writing boasts of eminences such as Richard Brautigan (Trouth Fishing in America); Vladimir Nabokov (he finished Lolita and began Pnin while living there); Sarah Winnemucca, known as the author of the first autobiography written by a Native American woman; legends Ken Kesey and Raymond Carver; and Gina Ochsner, who was born and went to college in Oregon, and who once won a writing contest I entered, which means, of course, that I will never forget her name.
Presented in no particular order, here are 15 Oregon writing resources, from conferences to local critique groups to literary magazines. If you are a beaver stater or are planning to become one, these are some organizations you might want to take a peek at. read more
Oklahoma, the Sooner State, is up next in our State Writing Resources series. Its motto is “Labor omnia vincit,” which means “Work conquers all,” which means “Get your ass out of bed, slacker!” Oklahoma achieved statehood on November 16, 1907, the same day that actor (and Rocky trainer) Burgess Meredith was born in … drum roll … you guessed it! Ohio. Ugh, so close.
Oklahoma writing features a cast that includes such greats as Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man), Sarah Vowell (The Wordy Shipmates is my favorite of hers), Blake Edwards (the Pink Panther guy), National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Thomas, poet John Berryman, and, OK, Chuck Norris, who apparently can kill you in every way possible, and in many ways impossible.
Presented in no particular order, here are 10 Oklahoma writing resources, from conferences to local critique groups to literary magazines. If you’re an Okie or are planning to become one, these are some organizations you might want to take a peek at. read more
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