Columns > Published on May 19th, 2020

The Gabino Iglesias Online MFA: Third Semester

Original image by mentatdgt

You started this MFA with certain preconceived notions and now here you are, transformed into someone who knows what's what. We are proud of you and it fills our hearts with joy that you completed/survived your first two semesters. However, we're only halfway there. Welcome to the third semester. This is where we get serious. Here are the classes you'll be taking in the coming six months.

How to Submit: Follow the Fucking Rules 

Too many writers think "I know they're asking for horror, but my romance story is so great they will probably publish it anyway." They're wrong. Others think "Oh, these suggestions are nice and whatnot, but Comics Sans and triple spacing is more my style, so I'm going to submit it my way" or "Well, it says 3k words, but my story ended up being 9k words and I'm not about to butcher it, so this is what they're getting." They're also wrong. Very wrong. When you're sending someone your work because you want to get paid and get published, you follow their rules. If they want Times New Roman, size 12, double space, that's what you give them. If they say no stories over 4k words, you don't send them 7k words. In this class, we will teach you to follow the rules. You can save up all your rebelliousness for shit that matters. You know, like when someone doesn't pay authors or when a press only has straight white males on their roster or when someone attacks your friends online or sends them unsolicited pics of their junk. 

Navigating Social Media

Want to be a writer? Write. That's it. That's all you have to do. What's that? You also want to publish and sell books and make money and have a platform and all the other stuff? Oh, well, then social media is now also part of your job. What you say on there is for public consumption now. Even all those messages you think you're sending in private could be made public in three seconds. In this class we will show you how to develop a persona as a safety/coping mechanism while also being yourself. Sounds tricky, right? Don't worry, you'll be an expert by the time this class is over.  

Agents: When? Why? How? 

Save up all your rebelliousness for shit that when someone doesn't pay authors or when a press only has straight white males.

Do you need an agent? Yes and no, it depends. Is every agent equal? Hell no. Now that you know not to ask famous writers to hook you up with their agents, we will teach you how to go about getting your own, learning to fire one that's not working for you, how to have real expectations, etc. As a bonus, we will get agents to talk to you during the course so you develop an understanding of what they hate and why they hate it before you learn what they love, why they love it, and why sometimes them loving something does not mean you are going to become a millionaire. 

Genre Isn't a Thing (Except When It Is) 

When you're marketing, it sometimes feels like genre is everything. When you're writing, you should be thinking about the story you want to tell and how to tell it to the best of your abilities. This means you shouldn't be writing with genre constraints in mind. Don't let genre get in the way of your storytelling. Ever. In this class, we teach you all the rules of every genre so you can break them. Genre elements are great to use, but paying too much attention to them leads to formulaic writing, and formulaic writing is always bad. 

The Science of Ass In Chair 

I know you have a life. You have a job. Hell, maybe you have three jobs. You have kids and a husband or wife or boyfriend or two partners who live with you or seven cats or a ghost in the basement that demands constant attention. I know you have bills to pay and people who want pieces of you and you also want to read. I know all that, but here's a truth that won't ever go away: the only way to get a book done is by putting your ass in a chair and writing. In this class, we show you how to prioritize. Family needs you? Go to them. You really want to watch that show? Well, if the show matters more to you than your writing, go ahead. WARNING: This class shows people they have more time that they ever thought they had...and they get angry at us for showing them the amount of time they waste on things like doing nothing, arguing with strangers on the internet, watching shows that will do nothing for their career, and cycling through the same three or four apps on their phones. 

Nothing/Zilch/Nada: The Benefits of Complaining

This is one of those classes that students describe as "cathartic." You sit in a room with your professor and they ask you this: "What's wrong? What do you hate about writing today?" As soon as you start answering, they yell at you "No once cares! Now shut the fuck up and get some writing done." That's it. That's the class. 

They Have Money and You Don't: Not All Writers Are Created Equal

If I have to explain this one to you, you probably have money...

Stay tuned! You're almost done checking out all our classes. The last semester is just around the corner...

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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