Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"A Struggling Writer Lives Here"

That's what it says on my dry erase board. Why is that?

Because I've been rejected by all the graduate schools I applied to.

No, no, don't give me your sympathy; I don't want to hear a bunch of "I'm sorries," that only serves to annoy me and remind me of what happened. And this is writing related, which is why this post exists.

For those of you who don't know, I was rejected by Carbondale Monday the 6th (or at least that's when I got the letter). Edwardsville said no in the first package of mail I opened Sunday night, and today my father informed me that U of I had sent the rejection there (why they sent it to the house, I have no idea). Of course, my dad started getting all these ideas, which (of course) only began to aggrevate me, the main thing being when he began spouting his belief of why I was rejected when I knew all along why. I admit, I was really irked when I had to explain yet again to someone what the deal was and why. But dad forgets stuff all the time so oh well. You see, writers have their niche, and what I was afraid of was that my writing samples wouldn't be good enough for them. They weren't, as the guy from Edwardsville outlined after I inquired. The problem? I didn't have enough of what I knew they would want to see. I've felt awkward in a few of my creative writing classes because the professors have their styles and if you don't write within 5 feet of that, they seem to look down on you a little as not as good of a writer. Of course, my last creative writing class with Dr. Lamonica (where this blog was spawned from) wasn't like that at all and I believe my total freedom helped give rise to some of my best creative ideas that might have made good samples to send. Ah well.

So now what? Well, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one out there like this. Interestingly enough, my sister Stacey informed me that Nick's (her boyfriend) sister Mari was in the same boat as me. I'm a writer, she's an artist. She's not going to grad school, but instead is just going to find a job good enough to give her what she needs while she tries to get her art into the public scene. Hmm, sounds like my plan, haha.

Honestly, that is my plan. You see, when I first got my rejection from Carbondale, I laughed. Not in spite or anything weird really, just "God, finally I have an answer, time to move on with life." I'd become so hung up on grad school and didn't really notice how much until I read that letter. It felt like a weight was off my insides. If anyone had seen me that day, I was bright and chipper, and bouncing all over. I was that glad to finally know. I won't deny that I was a little bummed because I wasn't going to live with my sister and have good times, but I was able to live with that. And that's not all. The rejection was like a wake up call to my writing, which had been sitting dormant for a long while. Suddenly I got out my red pen and went bonkers on the draft. If Carbondale rejected me, then there were only two left, and they could easily do the same. A part of me expected it really, so I started right then and there to get back into what I've been leaving on the back burner, something I am not exactly happy about. All this stuff about getting into graduate school in order to get a job as a creative writing teacher in order to make sufficient enough dough to live on has never been my life's aspiration. That was more of a survival plan. But I can survive without it. I have to. All that was pushing away what I wanted to do most - I wonder now how much it would distract me from my true life goal. My focus has shifted and a tiny part of me thought, "Well, looks like God has other plans for me." You all know I'm not overly religious (but I'm not atheist either), but I do wonder sometimes.

After getting the final rejection today (or I guess, techinically, yesterday), it seemed like the final barriers were down. I opened up old favorites I haven't visited in years and started making lists of places to send my work. I've been too wrapped up in school to do anything with them. Hell, I've even sent off material electronically already. I spent from around after 5ish until about 2 hours ago perusing online publications, listing things, planning ideas, what to send, to who, and when. I looked at my old "Attempts Made" file and noted how in 2002 and 2003 I sent out a total of 14 pieces to 12 different places. In 2004 and 2005 the total was a sad 8 (5 of which were a group of poems) to 4 places. And you know what? I only sent items to them because of my creative writing classes. The 2005 single submission only occurred because that was literally a requirement of the class.

As much as an MFA sounds good to tack on a resume, if I never get it, I don't mind. Like my sister said in her email to me today, "This sounds dumb, but in a way, I'm pretty jealous. You're done. No more school! " She was right. That's exactly how I felt.

So don't feel sad for me, I don't want your pity. Instead, tell me I rock and that you know I'll be published someday. Give me support in what I do. That makes me happier than anything.

Currently: Yay! Happy!


Anonymous said...

Cough. *urp* Two of my friends in the PhD program up at UIC are quitting. Just up and quit. They said that they hated it so much they'd rather have a mediocre job for the rest of their lives and at least *have* lives. Gotta love the liberal system of universities. Probably a good thing you're getting out of it.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Jane Austen wrote "Pride and Prejudice" when she was 21 years old? She didn't publish it until years later, when Sense and Sensibility was a big hit.