Columns > Published on April 15th, 2020

The Gabino Iglesias Online MFA: First Semester

Original image by mentatdgt

I got tired of seeing writers take classes they don't need, so I'm opening an MFA program. It will be online because nothing's worse than a workshop where you have to look at the faces criticizing your work... especially when theirs is atrocious. In any case, I know grammar, syntax, and worldbuilding, to name a few, are elements that writers need to learn about, but I think you can get really good at all those by writing and reading like your life depended on it. (If you're a writer, your life depends on it, so READ.) Instead of tackling those standard topics, which you can learn elsewhere, my MFA program will focus on giving you useful knowledge you won't get in any other program. Here are some classes that will be offered during the first semester.

Writers Write

I once wrote a funny list for a website about things that don't make you a writer. I received hateful messages and replies for weeks. No, having a cat or drinking coffee or owning a typewriter don't make you a writer. The only thing that makes you a writer is writing. In this class you will learn to shut the fuck up, sit down, and put words on the page. That's it. Everything else is irrelevant. NOTE: This class is painful. You actually have to do work. Tweeting about how hard the class is doesn't count as writing.

The Art of Rejection

Rejection is part of the game. In fact, I've received twenty rejections for every acceptance (you know, guesstimating here). Agents will say no. Editors will say no. Venues will say no. Readers will say no. Your mom will say no. Everyone will say no. If that will crush you, maybe this isn't the best career for you. In this class we will teach you that every rejection is an invitation to send your work elsewhere. We will also teach you that rejection is best left in the past. They say no, you shrug and move on. You keep writing. You keep submitting. Eventually, someone will say yes, and that only means you have to keep doing what you've been doing because sooner or later someone else will say no again.

Writing Doesn't Make You Special

Tweeting about how hard the class is doesn't count as writing.

Wait...are you a writer? Oh my god! Guess what? No one gives a shit. You can walk out of your house, go to the local coffee shop or pizza joint, and you'll find a writer there. Writing doesn't make you special. No one owes you anything. Writing is what you do. Some people drive taxis. Some people teach high school. Some people do landscaping. You write. That's it. In fact, maybe you do something else and then write when not doing that other thing. That's my story as well. See? Nothing special. Sorry. In this class we will cry and bemoan the fact that writers don't get special treatment. Then we will help you get over it so you can get back to writing.

Poetry and Pulp

These two belong together. I know you've heard different. I know you think there are these boundaries for genres and that some things can't be mixed. In this class we will teach you that there are no rules and genre is something the marketing folks should worry about, not you. By the end of the semester, you will probably smack anyone who tries to waste your time with "literary fiction vs genre fiction" debates.

Do Some Research

Don't know something? Research it. Unsure about a topic? Nothing ten hours of studying won't cure. The world is full of things you ignore. That's why research is crucial. Also, if you are going to write about experiences, places, and cultures that you don't know, hours upon hours of research are the only thing keeping you from a monumental fuckup. In this class we will show you how to go above and beyond those top five results on the first page of any Google search. You will be a much better writer afterwards, and you will end up with a plethora of new ideas for stories.

Hustle or Die

This is the simplest class: Hustle or Die. No one will come find you and ask if they can publish you. No one will discover your books by browsing through Amazon for hours. No one will know you have something new out in the world if you don't tell them. No one will hand you a built platform. No one will offer you freelance work just because. Everything you get will come from you going out there and getting it.

Getting Fucking Used to Editing

Oh, you hate editing? Then maybe writing isn't for you. Sure things in life: taxes, death, and you need to edit that shit. Yes, again. Editing is showing your work love. Editing is how you demonstrate you care. Editing is the difference between the amateurs and the professionals. Editing matters. In this class, we show you how to accept editing, to embrace the opportunity to make your work better.

Haters Ain't Shit

Haters don't pay your bills. Paying attention to haters doesn't get you published or put words on the page or money in your pocket. When you go for a walk, you don't stop to interact with the dog turds on the street, right? Well, haters deserve the same attention: none. In this class, we show you how to breathe deeply for a few seconds and move on with your life. Gonna put down a thousand words? You should add them to your novel, not waste them on an internet argument that will bring you nothing good. NOTE: There will be another class focused on destroying editors and publishers who don't pay you as well as abusers, harassers, and racists.

No One Made You Do This

The last class of the semester! We will remind you that no one is forcing you to write, so complaining about it makes no sense. That's like eating green beans and then complaining about it... except you went to the store, bought the green beans, cooked them, and then ate them. This shit's on you. Always. No one made you do this. The final exam for this class is standing in front of a mirror and repeating "No one made me do this" a hundred times.

This is only the first semester! We have three more to go. Stay tuned. If you want to sign up now, look me up on Twitter and I'll send you my PayPal info.

Purchase Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias at Bookshop

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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