One of the ways my parents were able to send me to a Catholic high school was through a work-study scholarship. This meant that the school assigned me odd jobs in between my classes. My first job involved pumping liquid nacho cheese into portion cups for fellow students waiting in the lunch line. The job I loved most was cleaning the art rooms after school.

I felt, even in that repressed, repressive school with anti-abortion posters in the stairwells and a crucifix above every classroom’s door, that the art wing was a place of immense possibility. Often, there was another…

This is the second installment in an ongoing series of self-accountability posts about what I’m doing on a weekly basis as a writer.

Submitted and landed a pitch with a national publication | Posted a rejected op-ed to my Medium page | Submitted a poetry workshop proposal to a festival | Scheduled and completed interviews for an article | Met with an writer/student on Zoom| Wrote a book review | Pitched an article idea to a new publication | Gave feedback to students | Emailed with a writer friend | Perused publications and added some ideas to my spreadsheet| Publicized…

A Trump sign on the front of a home in Fort Wayne.

If you are a young person, especially if you are too young to vote, let’s talk. Voting is in the news right now, but ethics, politics, and healthy community are about so much more than voting. In fact, voting is the very least of it. If we vote and return to our lives as passive bystanders, we have done very little. So, how do we decide how to act and what to act on?

I often encounter adults whose actions have been poisoned by hatred, people who fear and suspect anyone who doesn’t fit a mold. …

I’d like to start a new series of self-accountability posts in the spirit of the writer Sassafras Lowrey’s tumblr series (I can’t find a link—not sure if ze does those anymore!). Anyway, I always enjoyed reading those posts which were essentially a list of the writer tasks ze had accomplished.

This will be a maybe occasional, maybe regular series where I post what I achieved during the week. Anyone who’s self-employed and trying to build a career knows that it can sometimes feel like you’re climbing up the down escalator of a large mountain. …

Coffee and a notebook: two necessary ingredients for your MFA application process

1. I wish I’d tossed away other people’s advice and suggestions unless they were actually useful.

2. Applying to a total of twelve MFA programs during two application cycles, I learned that if it feels like a program is the right choice on a gut level, do it. But if a particular MFA program is going to put you into tens of thousands of dollars in debt, don’t.

3. I am grateful for advice I received about how student debt follows you like a creepy zombie. I’m glad I found a program that paid me to go there. …

Attend any workshop, read any how-to book on writing, converse with any working writer, and you’ll inevitably end up talking about rejection. If you’re trying to get traditionally published, rejection is simply part of the game. We deal with it, we compartmentalize it, and we brag about how bad it is, but I don’t think any of us like it.

Rejection stings. It’s demoralizing, confusing, and seems to confirm our worst fears about ourselves: I’m not a real writer. Who do I think I am, sending out this creative work? I must quit. I’m not worthy. …

The best way to get your poems published is to send them out. That being said, you’ll end up receiving more rejections than acceptances, no matter who you are. The whole thing is just a numbers game. So why not reframe and welcome the reality of those inescapable rejections?

One way to do this is to aim for 100 rejections a year. You can read more here about this approach, one taken by numerous writers to remove the inevitable sting of the submissions process.

In 2018, I continued submitting poems, essays, and writing projects. Sure, I welcomed the publications and…

“Gold Medal Flour” sign

One morning earlier this week, I woke up early, had time to snooze, and thus ended up lying in bed typing a weirdo pseudo-mini-essay Facebook post on my phone about dead raccoons, the perils of Miami traffic, performance art, and my ambivalence toward social media.

Every time I post something on Facebook, I get an immediate response. People like it! Oh wow! But this, of course, is an illusion. It’s engineered. Nevertheless, for me, getting an immediate response on a piece of writing is like a drug. There’s something really satisfying about the immediate appearance of readers.

As I’ve quoted…

I recently sat on a panel of queer writers at Books & Books for Pride Month.

I feel sort of funny about writing two advice posts in a row, but I do want to share the list of tips the panel moderator asked us to compile for new writers. I tried to think about what I would have liked to hear five or eight years ago. I didn’t include some of the most common good advice out there like “write every day.”

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Don’t listen to other people’s advice unless it makes sense for you.

Stay in the poetry submissions world long enough and you’ll hear plenty of people say, “Don’t enter contests.” In my opinion, there is some truth to this. One must always be wary of scams. It’s also easy to put your hat in the ring before you’re ready (i.e. fancy residencies I applied to with delusion at 22).

But I do think that entering contests can be useful for poets, depending on their goals. Why?

You should be submitting all the time. You may have seen this great article about aiming for 100 annual rejections. This approach to publishing may be…

Freesia McKee

Poet, essayist, performer, teacher. Author of HOW DISTANT THE CITY (Headmistress Press, 2017). Micropublisher. Lover of radio.

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