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Filtering by Tag: writing resources

LiteriCity, DC

Jacquelyn Bengfort

I was Twitter messaging a delightful writer I met recently (Jada of Casual Tuesdays) to share some info about reading series and other literary happenings of which I am aware. Six chunks of 140 characters later, I thought I might as well compile what I know and throw it up over here for the benefit of all my writerly friends and acquaintances in the city. I must offer a hat-tip to this article, which I found on the Poets & Writers website just a few months before making the move to DC and which started me down a whole lot of right paths. In many ways, what follows here is an extension of that list.

Reading Series and Open Mic Nights

Kafe Bohem (600 Florida Ave NW) recently began hosting a reading series that takes place the last Monday of every month. Local author Eric Rekstein (My Life: What Not to Do, On Moon Square) organizes. I've been participating for the last two months.

Reading at Kafe Bohem (photo by Paul Angelo)

Busboys and Poets (various locations) boasts an intense events calendar.

Barrelhouse Presents is a reading series from the DC-based literary magazine Barrelhouse, held at the Petworth Citizen & Reading Room, a new pub on Upshur Street that I can't wait to visit. The next one is March 12.

the lowercase is a reading series for volunteers at 826DC, a tutoring program for students. It's held in their storefront, the Museum of Unnatural History, in Columbia Heights.

The Writer's Center in Bethesda hosts readings as well. According to their event calendar the next one is the last Sunday in March.

Book Readings and Author Signings

Politics and Prose always boasts an incredible line-up at the Connecticut Avenue location, and often holds off-site events for major literary stars. Their reading series is so legendary that it made an SNL skit not long ago. (I got to read there once. It was incredible.)

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle occasionally hosts signings as well.

Publishers and Contests

There are plenty of journals in the DMV: District Lines, Barrelhouse, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, The Baltimore Review, Gargoyle (closed to submissions until early 2015), Phoebe, So To Speak...I may be missing some, but you get the idea. I have personally had writing rejected by three of these (and, mercifully, accepted by one). As for contests, the Baltimore Playwrights Festival is open to DC- and Maryland-based dramatists.

Writing Instruction

Politics and Prose offers in-person classes, as does the Writing Center. Interested in something more formal? American University, Johns Hopkins, U of Maryland College Park, University of Baltimore, and George Mason all offer creative writing MFAs; Johns Hopkins also offers an MA with classes available right off Dupont Circle, and that last program is about to hold an open house.

What have I missed? Google searches conducted after I compiled my list revealed much more complete lists, like this one and this one. Which happenings are your favorites?


Jacquelyn Bengfort

2013: not my best, most productive year, writing-wise. Can I pull the new motherhood card? (Pulled.) But looking back was sobering. At the start of 2013 I had three forthcoming works--a story, a play, and an essay. At the end of 2013 I had only a couple of submissions out for consideration and had managed to have only one additional story accepted for publication. Worse? I had hardly produced any new material. Hard to submit when you don't have anything you love to send out.

But 2014 is a new year, and I'm employing a few new strategies.

Submissions. My goal is to submit to one place per week. Even if I don't do simultaneous submissions, and at the moment I haven't, I'll still have more writing out in the world, crossing desks, than I did last year. In fact, in January I sent out more work than I did in all of the previous year. I've got eight little soldiers made of paper and ink, or, less poetically, made of 1s and 0s rendered on a screen out there fighting on my behalf. Some of these soldiers came out of a bevy of writing courses I took--very helpful when you're feeling blocked. (I've also received two rejections, already.)

Rejections. While we're on the topic, I've decided not to wallow. Since I'm not doing simultaneous subs at the moment, my new method is as follows. 1. Receive rejection notice. 2. Re-read rejected writing. Patch up any shoddy bits newly obvious. That day. 3. Re-send rejected, remodeled writing out to another possible publisher. That day. It's likely healthier than my old response, which was to spend several hours watching television and eating ice cream.

Hokey butt-in-chair trick. I don't like the phrase "life hacks." I put it right up there next to "selfie" in the "IRONIC USE ONLY" section. But...somehow the internet gods directed me in early January to this old Lifehacker post. And, yeah. It took me until the last week of the month to actually set up my calendars, but now, I've got momentum. I write five days a week (I also work on my house five days a week, exercise five days a week, and spend time working on obedience training my dog every day). It's been a week. But I feel good about where this is heading. Life: hacked. (Ugh.)

And, yes, today this post counts for my writing.

How is your new year shaping up? Any hacks (ugh, again) you're employing or strategies you hope will make 2014 a better one than 2013 was?