March of this year, I received a rejection letter from the University of Arizona. The letter went something like this:
What does this even mean, really? And how much does this matter in my application for graduate school? If my writing is solid and my personal statement is iffy, will they not accept me because of that?
I have not started any personal statement/statement of purpose. I have an idea about what I’ll be writing but I have not settled on anything yet. I might write about this blog but am unsure how I’d approach it. I don’t know if I should even mention I’m applying for the second time this year. I can’t write about how much I’ve loved writing – it’s a cliché.
What can I write about myself that I’ve learned this year? Well, something was missing from my writing, that’s for sure. I see writing and inspiration in everything. I’m more dedicated to creating and being present on the page. I’m also aware there’s resistance to move forward because I’m afraid of my own failure. I’ve procured a new set of experiences to include in my “statement of purpose” but my purpose is to write. Well then, why should I get an MFA then? I don’t really need it, do I? I’m surrounding and seeking out writers in my free time. I’m in a writing workshop that’s starting out great! What else do I need?
What will writing in that environment do for me? Challenge me in ways I can never get on my own. I’ll be surrounded by writers all the time. See? It sounds like my other personal statement. I’ll get there when I’m good and ready. I need to make my submission tight first.
I called up the University of San Francisco and flat out asked about the status of my application. I was not accepted which was saddening but I already knew I wasn’t getting in. The person I spoke to was very nice about it and I didn’t feel terrible or let down. I read my own work so I knew the end result.
Then I called up the last school I’m waiting to hear from – San Diego State University – and they told me they wouldn’t let me know until April 23rd. What..the…frak. Seriously? That late in the month? Whatever. I wanted USF the whole time and I didn’t get in so I’m done. Next!
I’m going to Greece, I’m taking a copyediting class, I love my internship, I’m applying to publishing jobs, I’m learning how to play tennis and golf, I’m going to watch two concerts in July and…I’m going to have a great summer! I have many things lined up so I won’t be wallowing in my sorrow.
I can’t front – even with the rejections, my head is still high and when I apply again for next fall, my writing will be much stronger.
Presently, research low residency programs, scholarships, and other MFA programs.
Alright universities, no more Mrs. Nice Girl. I need to know if I’m in or not in these universities! I’m trying to get my dates straight for my Greece trip and I can’t do anything until I know what’s going on.
Isn’t it quite rude for schools not to notify folks their decision early enough so the potential students can plan? Honestly, if I haven’t heard by now, maybe the tardy response means a definite no? One of my friends told me she didn’t hear until mid-April from one school that she was accepted so I’m not completely out of the running. However, I’m already making plans for other things in my life and because I don’t know what’s up, I’m a frakking sitting duck. What the frak.
I’m going to hope that in a week, I will receive some type of notification because this is absolutely ridiculous!
Last night, I received a rejection email from San Francisco State University. I would have received this email before but this freak (me) actually misspelled my last name on the damn online application. I kept receiving emails insisting my application was incomplete, which was untrue. I got on the horn last week to remedy the situation and things were fixed. In a week, I was rejected. Now I’m waiting on the remaining two so I can get on with my life.
I researched further into the Writer’s Institute and actually had a conversation with the director of the program. This certificate is not for folks still trying to learn the craft; this program is specifically geared to those who may or may not have degrees, are skilled, may or may not have been published but need the guidance from editors and how to get their work out there. I’m not there yet. Not even close! But at least I know that’s an option. Additionally, they don’t have financial aid for the one year certificate program. Their tuition may not seem like much for one year but for someone without that steady income, that’s a big chunk of change to shell out that I cannot afford. I won’t be applying but at least I’m thinking about options. I see myself possibly being a workshop instructor or working in publishing – basically anything with words. The difference here is that publishing is about the business of selling words while being an instructor helps the writer improve creatively. I have to decide which tract to take. The signs will show me and then I will follow them.
Surprisingly, I have an inkling that USF might accept me but its a hunch that I don’t think exists – could be complete wishful thinking.
Meanwhile, I’ll be writing, reading, and waiting…
My memoir writing class is over and I’m going to miss my Tuesdays with my instructor. However, because the class’s chemistry worked so well, we have decided to create our own writing group which I cannot wait for! I’ve never been a part of a writing group before so this will be a new thing. Not only will I be motivated to continue writing after the class is over but I’ll be surrounded by writers that are as dedicated to their craft as well. This is exactly the kind of group that will be helpful during my final three rejections (I know what’s up, I’m not gonna front) which will be a reminder of how much my writing has grown since I applied (which feels like it was ages ago).
On the rejection front, remember the classmate that was accepted to the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa? It will sound like I’m hating on her (which I’m not because I didn’t want to apply to Iowa – the frak am I gonna do out there anyway?), but she shared with us how the school reneged on the funding they promised her which is messed up. What I don’t understand is how such a reputable school known for providing full funding during the three year MFA program would pull such a stunt? Does this happen every year and is this a ploy to have her reject their offer? I would hate to be in the position to pass up an opportunity to work in a concentrated environment because I couldn’t afford it. I want this to work out for her because its the University of Iowa – a really good school and if she was accepted, then her writing will only get that much better.
As for me, I haven’t heard word from any schools. I called up both San Diego University and San Francisco State University which both told me they don’t know when the Creative Writing department will start notifying students. I told the Admission folks, “Can you just tell me if I’m in or out so I can move on with my life?” They laughed me off and apologized for not knowing. I hate this waiting. Luckily, my eventful birthday month (coming to a close soon) has kept me in high spirits as well as planning a vacation in May and visiting a friend of over a decade in Dallas. I can’t complain; my life has been effervescent and gleeful since the beginning of the year. Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs (we all do) but I’m not depressed and I’m still writing, which is very important.
I look forward to my writing group and my future because man, the light is so bright, it’s hurting my eyes!
Yesterday afternoon I received a rejection letter from the University of Arizona. Every time I receive a letter from a school, I assume “rejection.” But here’s the thing: I’m already past this. To me, I’ve already been rejected from the rest of the schools (even though one school keeps sending me incomplete application status, its so frakking annoying!) and I’m fine with that.
I was able to read my submission with the same attention a department member would and its not MFA material at this time. I accept that and I’m glad that I can recognize that I have room to improve. My writing has improved and flourished since I applied which is apparent with the work I’ve been creating lately (memoir mostly).
I’m already looking into a certificate program at the Graduate’s Center called The Writer’s Institute which is an intense one year program. I read about the program on the Mediabistro website. They call themselves the Un-MFA program. Application deadline is April 15th so I need to get up on it.
My head is in a good place now. With this writer’s institute, what I have to decide now is if I want to apply to take courses in fiction or non-fiction. My heart knows what it wants so I’ll follow wherever it takes me.
Bring on the letters, for crying out loud, so I can move on with my life!
One of my classmates in my memoir writing class shared with us that she was accepted to the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. I was so happy for her and impressed; Iowa is one of the best schools one can get accepted to and its a free ride! She’ll be missing our class next week and possibly the last class because she’ll be visiting Iowa. How exciting is that? She also said that because none of her friends are writers, they have no idea how huge this is. She’ll be getting her MFA from one of the most prestigious writing schools out there. Pretty frakking kool.
On my front, second week of March and four schools pending without any indication of acceptance or rejection. When I check the mail everyday, I brace myself for good or bad news. Once I notice I don’t have mail from a school, I relax. But I know when I receive a single thin envelope that its totally a rejection. I’m waiting on Four, for crying out loud! It’s driving me crazy. However, I am writing on a more consistent basis, which is wonderful for me. Which brings me to…
Am I writing in the wrong genre? I’m enjoying my memoir writing class too much and have had no interest in crafting a fictional piece. I’m probably feeling this way because I realize that my submission to graduate school wasn’t interesting or insightful which showed. I was content with the way the piece was written but not the underlying message or the characters. I didn’t even like my protagonist; I liked the people causing her harm more than the other way around.
Additionally, because I have been journaling for as long as I can remember, writing about my life is effortless. Every assignment is a breeze; even the piece that I workshopped the first time and this second time around, I felt proud of and I look forward to receiving feedback. I think getting workshopped is great but sometimes I rely too much on workshopping when I write a piece. I anticipate some critiques and most aren’t a surprise, which I’m unsure if its a good thing or a bad thing – meaning, I know my writing so well I know the good and the bad things myself.
I can’t front though; workshopping has significantly attributed to me having the knowledge now about my writing and my pattern. I have to say I have been amazed at how far I have come from my first workshop.
I am patient with the possibility of having a significant other, moving on my own someday, being at my ideal weight, running a marathon but, I’m extremely impatient with this! I wanna know Now if I’m in or out so I can move on with my life. I’ll just bury my head in the sand and wait for my frakking letters. (R.I.P. John Hughes)
I’m sure most literary agencies know this guy. At the agency I work for, we recently became privy to this infamous stalker who’s name is Oscar Lee Whitfield. He put up his own wikipedia page for himself – a link I will not post on this blog. This man does not understand that the more rejections he receives, the less likely he is to be picked up by an agency. He is relentless; every day, our inbox reads, “Query #” (we are up to 140) from a different email address but we know its him. His email is deleted. The query is always the same and he never rewords the synopsis for his novel. Once his identity was tweeted a few days ago, he’s become infamous – which only hurts him. Literary agencies don’t take him seriously and I don’t understand why he doesn’t understand. If he was rejected by twenty agencies, then, yeah, he should keep going. But being rejected 6,000 times? Really? Still not getting it? Unsettling.
I will have tenacity once I receive my rejections because let’s face it – as writers, we will be receiving rejections from magazines, schools, agencies, publishing houses – it makes us stronger. But this is just plain stubborness. I wonder if anyone has sat down with him, looked at his query, maybe even read his novel and have suggested changes in his novel and letter. I don’t feel pity for him because he seriously thinks that spamming and emailing queries to every agency daily will change something. Not likely.
If you are reading this, Oscar, good luck to you. Maybe you should sit back and rethink your strategy, have someone that doesn’t know you look at your query and novel, and provide constructive feedback. But I’m only one person.
To everyone else, ya’ll know better.
*Update (8/6/2010): He know has a website. Does he think that will make him more marketable?
Doing my memoir writing homework took so long the other day for two reasons: I was too distracted and feeling down from receiving the third rejection letter from my MFA schools and because I didn’t have the right music to concentrate to!
I own classical music but I rarely listen to my many compilations…until now. I normally create a playlist in my iTunes for writing but then I become distracted and sing along to the songs. Mission, not accomplished.
I’m glad I have rediscovered my classical music. While completing my homework for the week, I was in the zone. I wrote from my soul and heart; all the hurt inside from my adolescence was spewing on the page. I tried to make the passage less of a hodgepodge of things but I think I want the piece to work that way. Seems like I’m on my way to writing pieces of my memoir. I never thought I’d be writing those words…ever!
Classical music is amazing. Thank goodness I have over ten discs (or more) of different artists. I can’t wait to rediscover my music and write more!