Jack of All Trades: A Case for Studying and Composing in Multiple Genres

I wrote an alumni guest post on reading and writing in multiple genres and mediums for my MFA program’s blog. Check it out!

MFA & Beyond

BookshelvesPhoto Credit: lydia_x_liu via Compfight cc

While there is certainly value in immersing yourself in the study of a particular style or genre of writing, as the old saying goes,

Jack of all trades, master of none,
though oftentimes better than master of one.

The second half of this couplet rings true especially for writers. As someone who has presented on a multi-genre pedagogical approach to writing at local and national writing conferences such as those held by the Florida College English Association and the Association for Writers & Writing Programs, I’d like to share how you may benefit from studying and composing in “all trades.”

You’ll best set yourself up for success if you’re able to devote a chunk of your time being exposed to literature in a variety of genres and mediums. While pursuing my MFA at UCF, I was especially lucky to be able to…

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Special Edition: So You Want to Write a Sex Scene? by Leslie Salas

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of considerations to craft the perfect sex scene for your writing. Enjoy this guest post featured on 5writers!

Five Writers

5Writers.com welcomes guest blogger Leslie Salas to the site!

Leslie Salas

Leslie Salas holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is a graduate of a Publishing Institute. By day, she helps students in higher education master the art of effective communication and storytelling at an entertainment, media, and arts university. On nights and weekends, she writes in multiple genres, including poetry, prose, screenwriting, and comics. Her work has appeared in The Southeast Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Burrow Press’ 15 Views, Volume II: Corridor, and more. She also serves as graphic nonfiction editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection, and frequently contributes to The Gloria Sirens. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


So You Want to Write a Sex Scene? 

Whether you’re writing a plot-driven or character-driven narrative (be it fiction or creative nonfiction), poetry, scripts, comics, video games, or any combination of the above, chances…

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Learning Balance

Photo Credit: mikecogh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mikecogh

Things have been pretty quiet here on the LeslieLearnsLines blog, despite some recent interest in my list of literary journals that also publish comics. (Welcome, new readers!)

While I’ve been updating my Twitter feed regularly with content relating to education and writing (it’s the best way to get a hold of me!) and will be posting more over at The Gloria Sirens this month, lately most of my extra energy has focused on three manuscripts (in three different genres). One manuscript has already been accepted by a publisher and I’m working on editing it so that it will be ready for a 2016 release. The other two are well in the works and I’m super excited about them, they but aren’t quite ready for unveiling. Hang tight–info is coming soon.

Juggling the manuscripts and my load of 50 to 75 new students every single month and helping plan a massive writers conference and planning a wedding and still finding time to work out regularly and spend time with friends and family has proven to be a challenge. However, it’s an invigorating challenge. The past few weeks are the first time since early graduate school that I am feeling truly productive in terms of engaging with teaching, scholarship, and service while still keeping my sanity. Here’s some of what I’ve been doing to make it all happen:

  • Make personal fitness a priority. Eat healthy every day and work out for at least 45 minutes at least three times a week. (Studies say you need to exercise for an hour every single day to maximize your longevity, so that’s what I’m aiming for.) I’m confident that making time for my health may be the single most important lifestyle change I’ve made, and while it took a few weeks for it to catch, I’m definitely feeling the benefits. More energy, more focus, more drive, more happiness.
  • Schedule time for everything. This seems pretty obvious, but logging everything on a calendar can help you stick to your obligations. Every two weeks I have a standing meeting with the co-writers of one of the second manuscript. We always work on the book at that time, and it has helped us gain a lot of headway. I also schedule time for fun events, appointments with others, and important deadlines on my phone calendar, and keep a giant color-coded calendar in my kitchen to keep me (and my partner) updated on what is happening when.
  • Make procrastination productive. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a Facebook addition. However, I’ve found out how to channel that tired/bored energy into something creative. I’ll still surf social media, but now, instead of engaging in conversation when someone posts something I agree or disagree with, I hang on to that thought and channel it into a piece of creative writing instead. That’s how the first full draft of the third manuscript was written
  • Take a zen approach. Be mindful. Be conscious of your choices and your strategies for completing tasks. Be good to yourself. If you’re not writing, that’s okay. If you are writing, it’s okay if it isn’t a perfect first draft. You don’t have to do everything. It’s okay to say no or separate from commitments if the cost-benefit analysis no longer falls in your favor. Be honest with yourself and what you want. Trust yourself and your work and be patient. It will be okay.

These are just some of the things that I’ve found to work for me as I move past post-MFA burnout and into full-time writing (on top of full-time teaching).

What life-balance tips have worked for you?

August Marks Back To School Season

My teaching job is always my top priority, not only because it pays my bills, but because it’s something that provides me with intrinsic rewards as well. That’s why, for the month of August, I’ll be taking the helm over at The Gloria Sirens to feature stories and content related to school, education, and learning.

Here’s a taste of what to expect:

On Not Writing and Not Feeling Guilty About It

You may have noticed things have been mighty quiet around here for a while. I haven’t been writing–and I wrote about that in a guest blog over at Sundress.

In early spring, a dear friend and I walked the cobbled, hilly roads of Seattle taking turns choosing where our feet would take us. Our booted Florida feet leveled off the pier and made the giant circumference of the Ferris wheel, our eyes gazing out at the rocky shores of Puget Sound and the shadow of Mt. Rainier. We dawdled on the mossy grass beneath the Space Needle, the squeaky twitters of hummingbirds sharp in our ears. We navigated beneath the Pike Place Market to make our sticky contribution to the Gum Wall. Our matching raincoats tucked into our bags, we explored the city and split only once inside of the conference center.

Our sightseeing resulted from our attendance to the largest conference for writers and writing programs, a familiar venue for those of us who are bound to the written word. At this conference, I prioritized my time between raiding the bookfair and attending panels on maintaining the writing-while-teaching balance.

It was nine months after I earned my MFA, and I hadn’t written anything new.

Continue reading here.

Website Revaamp

You may have noticed that I’ve made some adjustments to my blog. Due to some changes in my personal and professional life, I haven’t been able to focus solely on learning the craft of cartooning. Therefore, I’ve decided to expand the scope of my blog to include all aspects of lifelong learning, especially with respect to teaching, writing, cartooning, and editing.

I’ve also started tweeting on the same subjects, so follow me @LeslieLearns and take a look at the Twitter widget on the left to see what I’m up to!