Thursday, March 13, 2008


Last fall, amidst the kind of “well, what now” crisis of self us 33-year olds are good at, I decided to stop being so damn practical about my career as a writer and just embrace my fiction writing whole heartedly. Being of the cohort who gets degrees, I applied for MFA writing programs.

After polishing my best short stories, writing different personal essays for each school, taking the GRE and begging for recommendations from some of the kindest people in the world, I am now waiting. One rejection tumbled in a week ago, needlessly long and polite. I’d be happy with a 3x3 card with a big YES or a big NO. You’d think a writing program would keep to the old axiom that brevity is at the foundation of quality writing. Leave the long-winded, soft letdowns for professionals who don’t spend 95% of their careers opening rejection letters.

Four more schools have not yet responded. One is the Big Daddy school whose acceptance of me would be both profoundly surprising and fabulously validating. The others are more likely shots, drawing to the flush rather than the inside straight. Any school would be nice. No school would be disappointing but writing ain’t medicine, they still let you do it even without a degree.

It’s the waiting that makes it painful. I’m good in a chase, quick, resourceful, tenacious to the point of being infuriating. I’m pretty good with results too, appropriately humble or stoic depending on the outcome. But I suck at waiting. I fidget, I obsess, I drink, I write blog posts that are neither interesting nor brief. I grew a goatee that revealed my scraggly Irish heritage in full, patchy glory. I shaved it. Now I’m considering abusing the concept of sideburns.

Soon I’ll know what the Great University Readers have decided and I can go on, make plans, stop leaping to my feet the moment the mail smacks into the box. I hope for the best, I expect something less. But I just want to know. I hate living in the in betweens when you can neither prepare nor recover.

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Blogger Janet said...

Ah. You'll have to get used to it. Waiting for decisions is an inevitable part of being a writer. The best advice I've heard on this subject is to spend the waiting time writing something else.

But good luck with those other schools.

10:33 AM  

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