Earlier this year, me and several other Syracuse MFA alums, returned to our alma mater to discuss this very subject at a panel organized by our beloved professor, Arthur Flowers. Is there life after the MFA? What is the nature of “literary success”? Not surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones puzzling over these questions. In fact, faculty and students in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Purdue have put together a website, The Writer’s Job, to address them. The site, though still new, has among other things, a section on submitting work to literary journals, a post about the benefits of subscribing to Duotrope, a series of power point slides on finding a literary agent, and a section on making a living (its categories include teaching, publishing, journalism, business writing, nonprofit, freelance, and other jobs). Regardless of where you are in your writing career, this site is definitely worth exploring.
I often caution students not to go crazy with creative writing contests — unless, of course, said students happen to be independently wealthy. Maybe one contest every six months, I usually say. Be selective. But maybe that’s just me. I know writers who love submitting their work to contests, and let’s face it, there are many great contests out there to choose from. For those interested, Places for Writers, is a good site to explore.
Sometime last spring, I subscribed again to the CRWROPPS-B group/mailing list (http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/crwropps-b/info). It’s got a wealth of information for writers. To avoid dozens of e-mails in my mailbox I get a daily digest. I think in its early days, the list mainly had posts on writing contests. Now you get calls for regular submissions (to literary magazines and anthologies) and even posts about job openings. Just to give you an example, today’s digest includes an assistant professor in poetry job at SUNY Geneseo and a three-year fiction job at College of Wooster. This is one of the best and long-standing resources for writers that I know of.