“Send your work out, and send persistently–even to places that reject you five, ten times. I wouldn’t be where I am now if amazing people didn’t encourage and mentor me along the way. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, and don’t be afraid to declare what you have done.” -Meg Eden Kuyatt
Meg Eden Kuyatt is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee. Her work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. Meg received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland College Park. She teaches creative writing courses and has taught at a range of places, including Anne Arundel Community College, Southern New Hampshire University online, University of Maryland College Park, Eckleburg Workshops, and The Writer’s Center in Bethesda since 2013.
Besides being a writer, Meg has worked as an advertising manager, creative writing instructor, eBay seller, research assistant in linguistics and neuroscience, and publishing and marketing contact for a small press. She is the webinar coordinator for the SCBWI MD/DE/WV region, and runs the Magfest MAGES Library blog, which posts accessible academic articles about video games.
This interview was originally conducted and posted in December 2022. We are reposting here in advance of the upcoming class on Wednesday, September 27: “Getting Your Foot in the Door: Publishing in Literary Magazines” with Meg Eden Kuyatt. In this class you’ll learn more about the world of literary magazines and how to best market yourself and your writing.
Here’s what Meg Eden had to share with us:
Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?
Meg Eden Kuyatt: I am a poet, kidlit writer, and creative writing instructor—so I’m around words all day! I mostly focus on writing middle grade right now, but also write YA and poetry for adults. I’m also really enjoying the intersection of poetry and prose through novels-in-verse. I started writing poems because “all my friends were doing it” (ha!) but began to fall in love with it as I practiced, and realized it was a great space to process and communicate my thoughts. Especially starting in college, as I began to hit limitations as an autistic person in a neurotypical world, I found writing to be a respite, and a place for me to untangle my thoughts.
Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?
MEK: I’m trying to learn to extend grace to myself and accept taking breaks from a project, or just writing in general, if I need it. I’m continually learning that I need more humbling, that I don’t know all the answers and can’t make a project magically work suddenly or instantly sell. I want to think I can be this relentless efficient machine that always has aha moments, always is pumping out record-breaking word counts, and never gets tired. But that isn’t how it works! There’s also so much that’s outside of my control as a writer. There are so many waits in publishing—which I always heard, but only now am I starting to really understand. Even if I come up with the best book ideas, even if I’m efficient and work hard, there can still be long stretches of silence and rejections. I can’t guarantee a stable income or certain number of book sales or number of drafts written. All I can do is faithfully come to the page and persist—but also accept when I need to take breaks, and maybe intersperse with different activities to fill the creative (as well as financial) wells.
Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?
MEK: I hit those frequently but they also go away quickly! I think each project hits that at least a couple times, but it’s usually after I’ve been drafting for at least a couple months, failed a lot, written pages that don’t work, and have gotten to know my characters. Often I figure out what I am doing by discovering what’s not working.
Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?
MEK: The best advice I can give is to read, write, submit, and persist! Always keep your eyes and ears open. Take time to reflect on what you think or feel about things, and why. I have done thousands of submissions to get my relatively few acceptances, but submissions have taught me persistence and helped motivate me to keep writing. Some rejection letters have even been kind enough to include feedback. Put yourself out there, go to conferences, volunteer at local literary magazines or events, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Send your work out, and send persistently–even to places that reject you five, ten times. I wouldn’t be where I am now if amazing people didn’t encourage and mentor me along the way. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, and don’t be afraid to declare what you have done.
Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?
MEK: I hope folks will take a few things from this course. The biggest message I push is the one above: to persist. Litmags accept a very small percentage of submissions, but a no doesn’t mean to stop submitting. Some of the magazines I’ve gotten published in took 10, 20, 30+ submissions before I heard a yes. But also I hope this class will empower folks to find which litmags are a fit for their work, and get them excited about writing and submitting! There are lots of “fish in the sea” and it’s OK if some litmags aren’t a fit. In this workshop, I want everyone to walk away with the tools for how to discern if a litmag is for you, and the confidence in preparing submission materials and sending work out!
Thanks, Meg Eden!
Click here to learn more about Meg Eden Kuyatt’s upcoming class.