Magister Monday #1 – Required Reading

Mondays will have weekly thoughts about writing craft-related stuff.

I’m always grateful for Lupe Mendez, Jasminne Mendez, and Icess Fernandez for what they’ve done for me in terms of being a writer in this city. Lupe and Jasminne invited me to lead a small flash fiction workshop as part of their Tintero Readings series. Icess, a few months later, gave me the opportunity to lead a similar workshop in her class at Lone Star College.

And when I walked out of that class, all the talk about vocations that the Marist Brothers of the schools had talked about all those years ago at St. Joseph’s Academy.

Teaching rocks.

I mean, it’s the hardest damn job I’ve had in my life, but it’s amazing. And so I think that I’d like to do a little teaching on the side and impart some of my knowledge (pause for laughter) some of my EXPERIENCE in the field of writing.

My credentials:

  • One traditionally-published book (after 60 queries)
  • 20+ poems, short stories, and essays published in different literary magazines
  • 1 story, The Ritual, part of The Airgonaut’s Pushcart slate in 2016
  • Same story with a Best of the Net nod and longlisted for Wigleaf’s Top 50
  • Alternate for Houston’s Word Around Town poetry tour
  • Studied under Sasha Pimentel, Lex Wiliford, and Daniel Chacon as part of my MFA in Creative Writing through the University of Texas at El Paso
  • My mommy thinks I’m special

There’s not going to be much rhyme or reason to how I’ll run these little MFA-in-your-home (not to be confused with DIY-MFA). I’ll just really ramble on about particular subjects and hope some of it is useful.

I’m going to start out by listing my curriculum, aka the books that I feel any writer could use in their arsenal.

Here’s why:

When people ask me, what’s the best way to start writing? I don’t think about my process. My process is unique to myself and it’s different than any other processes. Some of them I’m like <Scooby-Doo Aroo?> suspicious of, others I can see the value but in the end the process is unique.

But one good way to start is finding something that you really like, and writing something similar.

So here’s my list.

Craft Books/Gen Reference Books

Stephen King, On Writing
Thomas E. Foster, How to read literature like a college professor
Jessica Brody, Save the Cat! Writes a novel
John Dufresne, Flash! Writing the Short Story
The Rose Metal Field Press Guide to Flash Fiction
The Rose Metal Field Press Guide to Flash Creative Nonfiction
Edward Hirsch, The Demon and the Angel
Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Octavio Paz, Labyrinth of Solitude
David Mamet, Three Uses of the Knife
Ron Rapoport, From Black Sox to Three-Peats: A Century of Chicago’s Best Sportswriting from the “Tribune,” “Sun-Times,” and Other Newspapers 
Writing With Color


Jaime Sabines, Recuento de Poemas
Lupe Mendez, Why am I like tequila
Jasminne Mendez, Night-blooming Jamsin(n)e
Neil Hilborn, Our numbered days
Sabrina Benaim, Depression and Other Magic Tricks
Sarah Kay, Never mind the wreckage
Sandra Cisneros, Loose woman
Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Nighbloom & Cenote
Rudy Francisco, Helium
Mark Strand, A blizzard of one
Sasha Pimentel, For want of waterAndrew Gibson, Lord of the Butterflies

Short Stories

Benjamin Alire Saenz, Everything begins and ends at the Kentucky Club
Roxane Gay, Best American Short Stories 2018
Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors
Dagoberto Gilb, Woodcuts of Women
Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek
Hillary Leftwich, Ghosts are just strangers who know how to knock
Daniel Chacon, Unending Rooms
Raymond Carver, Will you please be quiet, please?
Bonus short stories: April Bradley’s Acetone Smells Like Death
Kathy Fish’s Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild
Don Shea’s Jumper Down

Writing Excuses
Writers on Writing
Personal Rejection Letter
The Mythcreants Podcast

Write About Now

Published by obsidianpalms

Hugo Esteban Rodríguez Castañeda is a writer and educator hailing from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. He is the author of “…And Other Stories” (2018, La Casita Grande Editores) as well as other short stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in places like The Airgonaut, The Acentos Review, Picaroon Poetry, Neon Mariposa, Mathematician Transmission and the Texas Poetry Calendar. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso's MFA program and hus fiction has been recommended as part of Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net slates and was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50. He is currently a reader for RUBY Lit and occasionally freelances as a content editor for a publishing company. A fountain pen enthusiast, he lives in Northwest Houston and is most at home at coffeehouses, shopping malls, and mosh pits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: