Moira Peckham, BFR Editor

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              As I’ve gotten older, busier, and generally more stressed, I’ve noticed something sad about myself: I seldom read for fun anymore. When I was a growing up in the truly riveting hubbub of Morro Bay, California I would make a conscious effort to sit myself down and read a gosh darn novel or even just a few short stories every week. Eventually I didn’t even have to try because reading was the most wonderful thing I could be doing. There was nothing like getting lost in someone else’s world for a few hours and, to be honest, that’s still one of the most incredible things life can offer us. When I reached college, however, I found my time increasingly taken up by technical readings for my courses in anthropology, philosophy, or whatever I was taking that semester. And let me tell you, after a week of reading Marxist theory and critiques of cultural ecology, nothing and I mean nothing sounded less appealing than sitting down with and trying to actually understand the copy of Infinite Jest that’s currently collecting dust on my book shelf. And after several months of doggedly ignoring all the books I’d been collecting, I finally realized something: I would have to force myself to read for fun or face the reality that I would only be reading technical pieces for the rest of my life. And I was not cool with the latter option.

              The first strategy I utilized to make myself read for fun was by taking an English course. English courses are a lot of work and anyone who tells you differently is wrong and probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. But in spite of the work (or maybe because of it), English courses are also unbelievably rewarding. English 27: Introduction to the Study of Fiction allowed me to read seven incredible novels that I would never have picked up otherwise (as someone who reads mostly science fiction it was a trip to actually have to sit down and read Heart of Darkness for a grade but you know what it was great). I got to read amazing books for units! And write about them, which is a reward in and of itself. It was so amazing to be able to read and critically engage with literature that I never would have looked at before. Had I not taken that English course, I wouldn’t have even discovered how much I love Thomas Pynchon. So that particular experiment in forcing myself to read non-technical writings was a complete success. But alas, the summer rolled around and with it the time in which I could take classes outside of my major came to an end, so I had to think of strategy number two.

              Strategy number two was less about clever tactical course-planning and more about brute force. Amidst the balmy days of summer, my favorite author published an 880 page hard science fiction space odyssey and I vowed to finish it that summer in addition to about five other books that were burning a hole in my bookcase. So the strategy was basically to utilize my summer months to read as many books concurrently as I possibly could. I failed. But, boy, did I try. I got through probably about seven hundred pages of literature by the time summer ended just by sheer force of will, but it took me until the end of winter break that same year to finish the space odyssey. But that winter break introduced me to strategy number three: power reading.

              My first experience with power reading was with Camus’s The Stranger. If you aren’t familiar with that particular title, all you really need to know is that The Stranger isn’t that long. Maybe 160 pages, tops. One night after Christmas, I decided to read The Stranger but given my track record with actually finishing the books I start I knew that I needed to finish it all in one sitting or I wouldn’t finish it at all. So that’s what I did. It took me two and a half hours of non-stop reading but I did it. And it felt amazing. And so, I decided to try this tactic with something a little longer over spring break. (In between winter and spring break I didn’t read a single book; it was really sad.) Over the break, I went on vacation to a place with no Internet and I attribute this in part to the fact that I finished a 660 page book in four days. I was a well-oiled reading machine. I don’t think I had ever read anything as quickly and as thoroughly in my entire life. This too, is more an exercise in brute force rather than in self-control and cleverness. As of right now, however, power reading appears to be my most successful tactic for dealing with the fact that during the school year I have less and less time and drive to read for fun.

              Other strategies I’ve not tried myself but have seen others successfully employ include but are not limited to: having a book to read on your breaks at work, reading books of short stories, reading just before bed (I have tried this and fall asleep every time but other people do not), joining a literary journal (I actually do this one but some people don’t consider work fun for some reason), read poems, attempt to substitute Netflix with books at least sometimes, and many, many more!

              And perhaps this issue isn’t as universal as I feel it must be given my complete and utter lack of interest in staring at more pages full of words after spending my week doing just that, but maybe someone somewhere is struggling with this is very same thing. And if you are, hi there. I am here for you. Reading is the best and it is possible to find time to actually finish books, it just might take more effort than you’re used to. But stick with it because one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the ability to get lost, at least for a little while, inside someone else’s reality and to learn from it.

Regan Farnsworth, BFR Staff

There is a common misconception that a writer is a particular sort of person. That being a writer is something you’re born into, that someone either can write or can’t. There also is a second common misconception:  the idea that people have to want to read what you write for it to be “good.”

Given these misconceptions, only the published can stand out as “writers,” and even then only the commercially successful published are held as objects worthy of imitation.

But let’s not even complicate the matter of writing with questions of commercial success and whether one must win some sort of lottery at birth to have the “right stuff” to write what people want to read.

No. Instead, let’s look for a moment at personal writing. Writing for you, or maybe a close friend or two. This isn’t exactly the kind of writing that happens all that often – or, rather, you don’t hear about it happening all that often—because that’s precisely the nature of it. And the thing about this kind of writing is it doesn’t have to be “good” the way best-sellers or literary classics are “good.” All it has to be is yours. And as someone who exists, I understand there’s more corn in that sentence than in the global agriculture industry, so allow me to provide an actual example of this type of writing:

As a cripplingly analytical individual obsessed with the metaphysical, I found myself in the midst of an existential crisis based on the possibility of free will. Without going into details, the crux of the issue was that there can of course be no absolute resolution. There is no answer, yet I was desperate for one. Thus, the need for this one piece of fiction: a setting in which there must be a resolution regardless of my inability to know one. That is, in writing I could create the necessary circumstances to better understand myself.

Let’s be clear: this was probably the worst story I ever wrote in my life—and that includes those ones I wrote in second grade. It was a couple pages, done in an hour, and truthfully was such garbage even flies couldn’t stand it. But that’s not important, because neither you nor anyone else is ever going to read it. All it did was what it had to do: it resolved my cognitive dissonance.

Obviously there are more uses for writing than settling the inner turmoil brought about by an excessive need for agency; all this example set out to prove is it didn’t matter if it was good, or made sense, or had a solid plot or possessed meaningful character development or even had proper spelling. Sometimes writing is its own reward.

All I hope to express is that you don’t need to be a writer to write. If you’re an avid reader—and surely you are if you’re reading a column on a fiction magazine’s blog—there’s something you get from a story. Sometimes you can get it from your own story, too, even if you—like me—would sooner set it on fire than on a shelf.

Alyssa Rochelle White, BFR Staff

There are points in a writer’s life when the creative juices are not flowing. The juices have hit a block, a wall, and they say to the writer, “let us not be productive today.” The writer complies, justifying the lack of output by thinking that motivation will come later. Then the writer gets the idea to go search for that motivation. Stories have been found whilst watching people in the park and meandering through a pharmaceutical store, so the writer questions how difficult it can really be.

We’ve all been there with that hope that the story will just come to us out of thin air. I don’t mean to dismiss the figure of the muse, the fantastical expectation that ideas can appear from nothing, for the world would be a much bleaker place without that creative fall back. However, it is in the wait and the search for creativity that the writer becomes co­dependent on external modes of motivation, forgetting that the only true mode of writing is the act of writing itself. If we strip away the inspiration that every “Ten Steps to become a better Writer” tells us we need, we find that all we truly need is a writer with a will to write.

But with the need for motivation, the writer goes on the hunt. The writer’s mind is still constrained and will be constrained until the simplicity of a pen and napkin is taken up. Before that, the writer will search through writer manifestos, talks on writing, and even print out the fancy posters that say, “You are a writer!” This type of writing advice (and affirmation of one’s writerly status) can help when used in moderation and when molded to the writer’s own style. But the accumulation of tips and tricks that line the internet more often than not creates further boundaries to get through. The advice says, “No! Don’t do it that way! You won’t get published!” And the writer shall digress out of fear. Then the writer reads books about writing and blogs about storytelling and tweets from people that are supposedly writing. And this should all trigger . . . something? Some form of inspiration is expected to burst out of the writer’s chest with every word of a novel ejaculated in the course of one day.

That’s not how it works, though. So, what’s missing? Well maybe it’s the atmosphere. Coffee needs to be made, a rain dance needs to be done, and music needs to be played, matching the tone of the novel and emphasizing the emotion that will prompt the words forward.

And still, nothing.

Not even rain.

After all this is done, the writer still wonders why the words aren’t coming. And the answer is that the writer hasn’t taken the time to mess up, to fail, to create a horrible slosh of words that will need to be edited later. The life of the modern day writer has become a bag full of “when’s.” When I’m inspired. When I’m motivated. When I find the time. When I know the exact thing to write. When it all lines up.

But the art of spilling ink (even at the keyboard) is messy and in turn it’s productive.

Writing a book takes the time that it takes, and that means it takes three weeks or three months or three years. Let it take the time. But don’t let time be something that escapes you. Don’t be the writer that says time cannot be found. Time is everywhere. And when you do find time, don’t be the writer who says, “Well now that I’m here, I have time to write, but I don’t know what to write about.” Write about anything. Write about the fear of writing and go from there. Fail and fail hard because among twenty horribly written stories, blogs, and novels comes a well­-written piece of work. Failure provides powerful lessons. It affords insight. You can feel good about failure. Failure means you did something. And you could do it with all those modes of motivation mentioned above; I know I’ve resorted to using them countless times over my life. But it is important to know that you are not a lost writer without them.

Jenna Lee, BFR Staff

A writer, above all other professionals, ought to be self-aware. Nothing is more detestable than writing that is hypocritical. To prevent hypocrisy, a writer ought to walk the talk. She ought to wield truth like a sword and hack away at herself—especially at those parts of herself that would inspire ridicule in any reasonable reader.

What might inspire ridicule? For one, arrogance. Arrogance is a most dangerous thing for a writer to nurse. Those who are arrogant should take care to be perfect, for the slightest slip of tongue, slip of the pen, slip in reputation would be greeted with delight, rather than sympathy, laughter instead of sadness. An arrogant writer has no friends—and those friends she has are like herself, so respect is scarce in her midst. Arrogance is the antithesis of respect, so a writer should never pander to herself when the seeds of arrogance sprout in her breast. Hack away at those sprouts! The pen is only as mighty as the writer who wields it.

In that vein, it is imperative that a writer bring a fresh perspective to things. Banality is unforgiveable in writing, as in life. People will put up with satire, with something that inflames their passions and anger, but will rarely, if ever, put up with writing (or speech) that bores them. A reader’s attention is a precious thing, and should never be squandered. Risk saying too little rather than saying too much. Brevity conveys meaning better than a superfluity of words.

And the final thing that inspires ridicule is anger. A writer must not write from a place of uncontrolled passion. If a writer can be lucid about their passion, put words to their rage, that is one thing, but uncontrolled anger is something ugly to behold. Few people will applaud such an exhibition of unbridled angst. If you must be angry, find the appropriate words to explain your anger. Articulate anger is something to be respected.

Of course, I have done all of these things myself. I have been arrogant, boring, and angry. So of course I agree that writers deserve some leeway to grow and make mistakes. But writing is ineffectual unless it contains seeds of truth. Journalism lacks purpose unless coupled with character. And the character of a writer is doubly important, for she is a ledger for a section of humankind. Writers ought to be their own worst critics, to an extent. While the act of writing should be playful and spontaneous, subsequent readings should be done with an intent to “kill our darlings.”

Let us not pander to our egos. Let us see the negativity in the world as an indication of internal negativity that we could work through in ourselves. Let us not blame others. Let us seek to take responsibility for our own feelings. Let us find happiness and confidence in ourselves, so we can be a light illuminating, rather than a sound and fury signifying nothing. Words, in their most exalted moments, take on the importance of deeds.

Georgia Peppe, BFR Editorial Staff

We all know the drill: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action. This is the formula for basic stories and a successful plot line, proven to be effective and hard to stray from as a writer.

And yet, in attempting a climactic moment, writers often get stuck in the mires of melodrama, falling prey to contrivances and tropes, even the dreaded cliché.

So how can one experiment with getting out of cookie cutter plot construction?

Try using bathos.

What exactly is bathos?

It’s an anti-climax device. (To see it for yourself, I recommend reading some of James Salter’s short fiction in Dusk and Other Stories and Last Night, especially the story Dusk, which was my first encounter with the literary device.)

Here’s how it works. You take your readers with you, through your world, through your character’s lives, through their thoughts, feelings, and desires; you present the conflict, the rising action, the triumphs and failures, all the elements of your story, the people, places, plot; you have all of that seeming ready to coalesce in one moment: your climax.

And then you have that moment not be there.

No climax. Instead you have a place holder that occurs in your novel/short fiction where the climax should be. But what is there now? A let down. A moment of quiet. Stagnancy.

Going out without a bang.

You whip away from your readers all the greater purpose of the story hinted at throughout the writing, all the promise of some greater resolution or conclusion. Readers hang in the air in a moment of suspension, waiting for the great reveal, but instead are sent back down, sent home with nothing to show.

This is not to be mistaken for an easy fix to a not-quite-there story. It’s not the ultimate psychological twist either. Bathos has a tone it carries about—a rather despondent one, at that—which may or may not be the perfect ending to your story.

That expectation of—or even sense of entitlement to—the moment of clarity when the meaning of a story becomes clear, and the rejection of that expectation, are what make the let-down that much more powerful.

To achieve bathos the writer must turn back to the mundane, must leave behind the satisfaction of resolution, must opt to subject their readers to unfinished business, denying the sublime for the trivial.

Ultimately, it must be purposeful that there was no greater meaning all along. No message or greater truth. We build and build only to walk away empty handed.

So why does bathos leave its readers so uneasy? How does it devastate us so entirely?

Maybe, it hits just a little too close to home.

Evan Bauer, BFR Editorial Staff

In judging this year’s flash fiction contest entries, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Yasunari Kawabata, a master of the form.

Yasunari Kawabata was a Japanese writer who, in 1968, became the first Japanese author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. While he is likely better known for his novels, such as Snow Country and The Sound of the Mountain, Kawabata worked on short stories throughout his career. He calls these stories “Palm of the hand stories,” likely because they could fit in the palm of one’s hand. Each story often comprises only a single page, with longer ones ranging from three to five pages, yet all of them reach beyond their limited confines.

Kawabata was a master of concision; he knew exactly what to include and what to leave out. The brevity of these stories results from this careful craft. The stories contain only the necessary, and these necessary components guide the reader’s imagination in exploring what is left out of the stories.

In “Canaries,” in just over one page, we read a man’s letter to his former mistress. The affair happened long ago, and the man’s wife is now dead. All that remains of the man’s past love affairs is a pair of canaries gifted to him by his mistress, and these canaries, along with the question of what to do with them now, guide the man’s letter. Though the letter is remarkably brief, readers learn a novel’s worth of information about the man’s relationship to his wife and mistress. This effect is characteristic of Kawabata’s tight control; by attaching abstract concepts—grief, regret, the nature of memory—to something both concrete and unique—the canaries—Kawabata was able to craft an evocative story of astounding brevity that lingers in the mind far longer than the time taken to read it. The story presents a limited amount of information, but its presentation kindles the reader’s imagination, allowing the reader to explore perhaps why the man cheated, why the affair disbanded, why he let his wife care for the canaries, and so forth. It is this style of carefully selecting what to leave to the reader’s imagination, I believe, that allows Kawabata’s stories to function so powerfully while breaking from the more traditional story form of having a clear beginning, middle, and end.

With regards to concision, another aspect of note in Kawabata’s stories is his treatment of names. On the whole, characters’ names are withheld; instead they are simply “the man,” or “the innkeeper,” or “the hairdresser.” Only when the number of characters warrants the use of a name for purposes of differentiation do characters receive names. This authorial choice ties back to Kawabata’s tactic of boiling a story down to only the essentials. For example, in “Her Mother’s Eye,” the kleptomaniac nursemaid is referred to only as “the nursemaid”; a name would not be relevant, but her profession is. Similarly, the story’s innkeeper is simply “the innkeeper,” and the maid simply “the maid.” This tactic achieves two effects: it establishes the characters’ relationships to one another in few words, and it gives the characters an ephemeral, ghostlike quality. This second effect is slightly less subject to critical analysis, but there is something to the namelessness of characters that makes them simultaneously more and less memorable. It is as though each story occurs in a rolling fog, unveiling itself during a reading, then dissolving back into the fog once the page is turned. The specificity of each character’s role in a story leaves a lasting impression, but the reader’s incapability to attach this impression to a name, as though it could have been any man or innkeeper or hairdresser, gives these stories their ethereal, dreamlike quality. And this effect, I believe, is one to be admired.

While I think it can be inauspicious to try to emulate another writer’s style too closely, I find that there are a few valuable tips to be gleaned from Palm-of-the-Hand-Stories for the aspiring short fiction writer, especially in terms of flash fiction. First, when envisioning one’s story, one should consider what the absolute essentials are, and in this process, one should not be afraid to reevaluate how these essentials are determined. Things that may seem essential, such as a clear story arc or character names, may in fact not be, as can be seen in Kawabata’s stories. Having determined the essentials, one should boil down the story until only the necessities remain. Leave the story on the burner, leave and return, switch to a different burner and let it simmer, leave and return until it has been distilled into its most concise form. Once the story says the most it can in as few words as possible, then one can at last turn off the stove.

And for those who simply enjoy reading short fiction, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Palm-of-the-Hand-Stories. Savor one of Kawabata’s delicate, poetic pieces each night and let it whisk you into its foggy, dream world as you fall asleep.

Ben Rowen, BFR Managing Editor

Like most college students—and like all who wear lens-less glasses—I entered freshmen year entirely assured I was uniquely well-read. My first year taught me three important things (in addition to imparting on me the wisdom that lens-less glasses picked me out as uniquely unlikeable):

First, my taste in books was not unique (however at the fringe the Beats wished they were, their stuff certainly became lame-stream).

Second, I was not well-read.

Third, point #2 did not matter because I could pretend to be.

Discovery of point #3 opened up the floodgates for my mind’s growth—the entire literary canon became my oyster. I did my best Pacman impression, consuming bullet-points of book plots from novels I could never dream of reading. A brave new world full of fresh ideas unfolded before me.

I learned some books are not written in English. I learned what resides in foreign–language idiom is entirely inaccessible to any English translation. And I learned saying ‘to translate is to betray’ was amongst the safest, best ways to prove I was a Deep Thinker, in lieu (trying to prove I can read French!) of actually being one.

And now, like many college students, I enter senior year entirely assured that I am uniquely well-read when it comes to Wikipedia synopses of famous books. Or in other words, that I am functionally well-read.

Although I’m desperate to feel unique, the truth is that most people lie about reading books all the time. According to The Telegraph, 62% of people pretend to have read classics to appear smarter.

Next-level pretend readers are even didactic about their views of these books they have not read. They assure you calling so-and-so a “classic” is a misnomer that denigrates the veritable distinction itself. (A book about psychology that I didn’t read estimates this special group makes up 85% of all English majors.)

Within the collegiate context, it’s no surprise people lie about reading things. College practically teaches doing so. Social science classes, in particular, assign too much material to possibly get through. The assignments end up being about how to best to pretend to have done all the reading, not actually doing it.

On a wider scale, people lie about reading books because it makes them seem smarter. This is intuitive, but certainly does not holistically explain why people fake reading resumes.

To demonstrate the explanatory-insufficiency of such a reason, I ask you to try enumerate the books someone you know has read. If you can, I ask you to think about someone who you think is smarter for having read a certain book.

Even if you can complete task one, I bet you can’t task two. This is because none of us is keeping tabs on others’ reading lists, outside of those of us in book clubs (although, even those people find far more interesting things about which to gossip).

And so, ultimately, outside of the specific conversations about a given book in which we are immediately engaged, seeming to have read something won’t get us far. People are not keeping track.

In fact, even within those specific conversations, lying probably won’t get you far. Saying you’ve read something is a remarkably boring soundbite. We all understand this, at some level.

So, more than simply trying to appear smart, we say we have read something we have not because doing so bestows us some comfort. Each successful faking convinces us that we have acquired enough intellectual clout to pass as such a reader.

The lying can even be aspirational. Someone affirming our status as an appropriate reader of a book convinces us that, perhaps, we should read that book. At the very least, when we lie about reading something, we may feel compelled to read a bit of it to be able to support that lie.

And yet, whatever benefits lying about reading may afford, we all realize it’s not something we should do, and we do so guiltily.

The problem with faking, of course, is not that you’ll get caught. You won’t. Any fool with a smartphone can covertly google things mid-conversation. Anyone will believe said fool because ultimately no one else cares; revelation of reading habits means little—we aren’t in second grade anymore. Your best friend is not going to talk about reading a “great book,” which he or she has actually made up on the spot. Your friend won’t then ask you if you have read it. You’ll never have to say “yes”; you’ll never have to eat lunch in the bathroom stall that day.

Simply put, if you fake reading a book, you’ll likely escape unscathed.

Rather, faking is bad, aside from its pretension, because it prevents one from truly learning. SparkNotes and Wikipedia are good ways to submerge oneself in seemingly unapproachable reading material, but they give a one-dimensional reading. Fluency in plot structure and vague, abstracted themes, as we all know, is not equivalent to mastery of a book.

Further, if one could simply own up to having not read something, one’s acquaintances would feel the need to explain the reason behind name-dropping a work, when they do. Conversations would not proceed vapidly, full of unexplicated referents.

Faking, in contrast, stops others from sharing their knowledge, because it does not give them a chance to. Others assume the faker knows everything already, so there’s no point in sharing.

As such, everyone faced with faking having read a book confronts one question: would you rather learn, or pretend to have?

In light of many people choosing the latter, here’s an easy rubric for determining what books someone has read:

  • How do you know someone has read Huck Finn? They went to a high school in the U.S.
  • How do you know someone has read War and Peace? They tell you they have (i.e. they namedrop like it’s hot).
  • How do you know someone has not read Infinite Jest? They tell you they have.

With this rubric in mind, and potential fakes exposed, I urge anyone considering pretending to reconsider.

Rather than posing as knowledgeable, everyone should just follow Hal’s lead in Infinite Jest, and should enter a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.”

Alagia Cirolia, BFR Editorial Staff

College writers are desperate creatures, yearning for attention and audience. Hungry for praise, popularity, and even infamy, we all seek that fix—the sweet glory of publication—to validate those hours upon days upon weeks spent with head bent in humble supplication to whatever god may grace us from within the void of the blank, white page. The arduous journey from intangible thought to published work is wrought with rejection, and yet we must march on. Often, much of this rejection comes from publications that are merely mirages, beautiful traps designed to depress us with their authorial exclusivity. I say, enough of those nights spent checking my email to see if maybe, just maybe, I might be the next up-and-coming college writer published by The New Yorker. Let us march down different roads, all leading to publication.

While it’s still an excellent idea to submit work to traditionally renowned publications like The New Yorker or big names like Huff Post, consider expanding your pool of places to submit, as well as your body of work. I encourage you, my dear peers, to do a little dabbling. Write a short story, write a poem, write a heart-warming personal essay or comedically spiteful political commentary. Write more, and submit more. Cast more lines, follow more paths, and grow. And in the great empathy we all share on this NewYorkerforsaken trek across the hilly terrain of making a name for oneself, I share with you some strange (and familiar) places to take detours as a writer.

  1. Clickbait

As I’m sure you’re aware of, since you’re reading this, clickbait articles are all the rage on social media. Ranging from quippy and provocative to mind-numbingly cute, a good clickbait piece is one of the best ways to get your name on a popular piece,  and is particularly accessible to freelance writers. Although I say “clickbait,” many of these articles are admirably well-versed in pop-culture and artfully crafted with different styles of humor. In an age where cultivating an online personality is an art, writing successful is indeed an envied skill. Consider submitting to places such as Buzzfeed Community, Vice, College Humor, and Cracked. Now, these are pretty big names because, well, social media is everywhere. But they’re an interesting and ultimately valuable exercise in drawing from experience, testing your originality, and becoming internet famous. See: this article on eating steak with G-Unit, written by a boy who goes to Columbia. That could be you, man.

  1. Essays and Nonfiction

As preached in my school’s required 4th grade reading of Dear Mr. Henshaw, though fiction is a wonderful outlet for imagination and fantasy, it is just as important to write what you know. Drawing from experience is always a wonderful tactic, and writing personal essays and nonfiction pieces are an excellent way to hone that skill. Many holistic literary magazines include a non-fiction category, like the famed Emerson publication Ploughshares, which holds an emerging writer’s contest in poetry, prose, and nonfiction every year. Rookie is another site–an online zine by and for young women and teens–that accepts almost all forms of media pitches and encourages personal, intimate pieces. And finally, I suggest the Modern Love College Essay Contest held annually by the New York Times. This contest is begging for your torrid sophomore-year-club-retreat-turned-aching-3-year-sexual-engagement tale, and speaks directly to the principle of turning your personal experiences into art.

*Another mode of nonfiction to consider is science journalism; the scientific community desperately needs poetic writers like you to communicate its ideas!

  1. Non-traditional, Non-college Based Magazines

As a college student, it’s pretty standard to submit work to college publications. However, there are many excellent magazines to publish with that aren’t college affiliated and will add some variation to your published portfolio. Many of theses magazines also deviate from the cut and dry literary magazines produced by most colleges. For example, Brevity specializes in flash fiction that’s only 750 words or less. Or, you could follow in the footsteps of Shel Silverstein and become a Playboy contributor through this college fiction contest. Beyond your local college publication, there are a million amazing independent ones like Word Riot and Drunkenboat that also accept everything from poetry to flash fiction to small press literary reviews.

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So come on my wonderfully ambitious peers, branch out a little. Give The New Yorker the bird and use other publications, other genres of writing, as training wings. Your work is worth more than a two year wait for a response from the Big Guy. Get your name out there and support yourself through social media, support small press, support the transformation of experience into expression, and don’t wait around for an answer from an intangible entity—get published.