Sign in or Register | Help | Contact Us

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet???
You are not signed in. Click here to sign in.
If you are not a member, Register here!
154956 registered users
First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 252 Next page Last page  View All


Sep 25, 2004, 2:45 AM

Post #1 of 6294 (125043 views)
The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

The application packets are coming together; the manuscript is being selected. Drafts are being shorn. And I am beginning to get scared...

What if they hate me? What if, what if, what if?

I think I'm gonna be sick. Anybody else out there know what I'm talking about?

(This post was edited by motet on Jan 5, 2006, 8:32 AM)

Darren A. Deth

Sep 25, 2004, 6:30 AM

Post #2 of 6294 (124795 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post


Indeed, I do know what you feel like. I just submitted my applications two weeks ago and am in the process of following up with people about recommendations and such. Everything is going perfect at this point and I am right on target.

Keep in mind that if you are not selected for a program that it is not because they hate you. The field is competitive. Most programs only accept, at least for the Low-Residency ones, about 10% of all applicants. So, go into it thinking that if you don't make it this time you can continue to work on your material and apply again. It kind of mirrors the publishing world if you think about it.

One and a half years ago I started applying. Granted, I only applied to two programs but I was turned down by both. My first thought was that I shouldn't even think about touching a keyboard or a pen. But on both nights the rejections came I wrote for hours. What else could I do? What I have done in the meantime is take an online graduate level writing class through one of the colleges I applied to, for which I received an 'A', and attended the same writers conference twice where faculty of MFA programs were speaking/conducting workshops/reading. The second time I did it for graduate credit. Again, an 'A'. The encouragement was fantastic. I look back now at the stuff I sent out before and it was junk. That's not the case anymore. It's improved. I've had people who are published tell me that. There is hope.

So, you are not alone in this process at all. I wish you the best of luck.



Sep 25, 2004, 10:23 AM

Post #3 of 6294 (124791 views)
Re: [darredet] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

Darren, I really admire you for not letting it get you down, and I have a feeling with your determination you'll be successful! I'm a few years out from the MFA experience and even though I did get in to one of my choices, I still kept beating myself over why not my top choice? What could I have done differently? (like a lot of people, my first choice was Iowa, and anything less than that felt like a failure -- but I ended up where I was supposed to be anyway, I think). And as I'm sure you know, having an MFA doesn't guarantee anything...I'm a better writer for it, certainly, but you have to keep writing, no matter what some committee tells you. It would have been hard for me to keep going, as you did. And Jane Hamilton, to me a very gifted writer, couldn't get into an MFA program to save her life (I've always found that incredible and comforting at the same time, and it certainly says a lot about the extremely subjective nature of the process!). But hope all goes well for you and others playing the waiting game...


Sep 25, 2004, 12:51 PM

Post #4 of 6294 (124784 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

I totally understand your anst. I went through the application process more than once before I finally got accepted at Warren Wilson. And after you send everything in, it will only get worse for awhile, because everything's in their hands and there won't be anything more you can do. But the suspense, which feels so awful at the time, does pass, and then you'll make your choices. I'm confident that every person in an MFA program (low-res or regular) went through the same misery you're feeling now. Keep in mind that who gets in and who doesn't is largely a matter of the personal tastes of the reader(s). The schools have different faculty read for them each term and someone who doesn't like your work this time probably won't be reading for that program next time. And even with established writers, there's a wide margin for disagreement -- some people don't like Raymond Carver; some (me) don't like Chekhov. So just because one reader at one program doesn't like your writing doesn't mean you're not talented. So, take deep breaths and long walks and find some little treat (chocolate?) to get you through this difficult period. And, good luck to you!


Sep 25, 2004, 2:23 PM

Post #5 of 6294 (124774 views)
Re: [catherinebrown] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

thanks everyone. i'm having issues and i'm just at the fellowship/funding juncture of the game--the javits deadline is the 8th of Oct., so i'll have this packet out of my hands in the next week. i'm polishing and waiting for my recs.

i'll be sending my school apps in a (couple of ?) month(s) or so--the deadlines are in february. i've begun to feel a tad nauseated when i read my through my drafts (no they're not that bad :) ) and look over my statements. "who cares?" is always what i hear whispering through my mind when i begin to get NERVOUS. before long, i hear it coming out of my mouth. who would want to read my stuff? someone needs to kick up the positive affirmations.

in all honesty, i did feel the same way when applying to grad school two years ago. but that was similar in some ways and vastly alien in others. i'm trying to keep it together. and chocolate does sound rather appropriate right now... <grabbing keys, off to fight the teeming crowds at the local walmart...>

Bob S.

Sep 27, 2004, 8:15 AM

Post #6 of 6294 (124751 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

My applications for low-res programs this winter have been out for about a month and I'm expecting the first responses any day. I'm strangely calm about the whole thing. I think that's mostly because I've lived the process vicariously through the Speakeasy for a number of years now. No one has died yet from a rejection. In fact, there have been instances when people were glad later that they didn't get into what they thought was their dream program when they applied, or who got rejected everywhere one year but were happier to get in later when they were truly ready. And it's amazing how often someone will be accepted by a top program after being rejected at lesser-known places. It makes you realize it's more a matter of taste and "fit" than a competition.

I think it's important to remember you're hiring the MFA program, not the other way around. It's a service to help you get better, not a beauty contest. If we were already finished writers we wouldn't need MFAs. Also, they know if you fit in their program a lot better than you possibly could. Again and again we've had people apply to both Iowa and Brown, which is sort of like auditioning simultaneously for the Joffrey Ballet and Blue Man Group. But how are you supposed to know that when the brochures say "we welcome all styles and aesthetics"? (Unless you've lurked around here for five years.)

The question of rejection or acceptance is more about whether a particular program is right for you at this moment than being "good enough to get in." It's so important not to take the process too personally. Easier said than done, though, I guess.


Sep 27, 2004, 9:39 AM

Post #7 of 6294 (124748 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

Hey least you're getting your applications in. :)

As I was telling my sister yesterday, I'm terrified about the entire process. Whether my writing is good enough, whether I can find good recommenders, whether I'll qualify for any financial aid, whether I'll be able to deal with moving to a new state, whether I'll find pet-friendly housing, etc.

But my sister (who went through the same thing this time last year and is now a first-year grad student at Princeton, and she's 3 years younger than me) said something that really made sense: Do it afraid. Which is just another way of saying: feel the fear and do it anyway.

Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Sep 27, 2004, 9:58 AM

Post #8 of 6294 (124745 views)
Re: [silkfx2004] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

I just love that: "Do it afraid." Words to live by in so many aspects of life!


Sep 27, 2004, 10:34 AM

Post #9 of 6294 (124740 views)
Re: [silkfx2004] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

I think "doing it afraid" is excellent advice, and looking back on my experience, that's exactly what I did -- though I hadn't really thought about it in quite that way. I moved to another coast from the midwest for my MFA, left a very secure job with good money, etc., all of which was a huge and stressful undertaking, and and I think I "did it afraid" for the whole time I was there. The feeling of whether I was good enough, wondering if I'd done the right thing, etc. never really left me. Looking back I wished I hadn't been afraid, and had put more of that energy into enjoying what I was doing, but at the same time maybe that fear had a positive impact, too -- I needed that time (and the fear) to really get to know myself as a writer and as a person, and I think both things needed to happen. I guess what I'm saying is make your decision and don't look back, hard as that is to do.

Good luck as you make your way through the process!


Sep 27, 2004, 3:32 PM

Post #10 of 6294 (124722 views)
Re: [silkfx2004] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

do it afraid. wow. well i guess that's what i'm doing... gotta run but i'll expound later. thanks y'all.


Jan 7, 2005, 9:28 PM

Post #11 of 6294 (124591 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] i'm starting to get scared... Can't Post

I'm doing the process now. Just got the finishing-touch transcripts today, which completes my last application, of (10). A close friend is in his first year of an MFA program in the Mid-atlantic working with one of the preeminent living fiction writers.

He (the fiction writer) states that generally the writers who think their work is "there" isn't; not only that, they're probably also wasting the rest of the workshop everyone else in the workshop's time. He also said, encouraging my friend (actually a poet taking his fiction class), that "Doubt is your talent talking to you; it's what keeps you writing and tells you to push it." I typed it up and put it on my computer for when I'm feeling self-critical. I met with a prolific, respected writer in early-December for a story critique and a bit of advice about MFA programs. He tore my story apart; I almost gave up. However, went back at it a week later, changed my primary story, and made the one he critiqued fields and streams better.

Just keep at it. If it's important to you, keep going. I bet your editing skills (and writing) will grow significantly.

Good luck. We could be working together next year.

Dana Davis / Moderator

Jan 5, 2006, 8:38 AM

Post #12 of 6294 (124422 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

The two schools I'm applying to have application deadlines of Feb. 1 and Feb. 15.

There's a little part of me (albeit very little) that almost doesn't want to mail the applications because if I don't mail them then I don't get rejected. Of course, I don't get accepted either so there is that big downside.

But I think the waiting is the worst because there's nothing left to do to take your mind off the possibility of bad news and the good news simply isn't getting here soon enough!!!!


Jan 6, 2006, 3:42 AM

Post #13 of 6294 (124380 views)
Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Can't Post

Hi there,

It's good to read all these threads. It's good to know I'm not the only one thinking "Of course I'll get in" one minute, to be dragged into bleakness the next one ("Of course I'll be universally rejected"). And it's good to read what some of you said about getting better (better people, in the sense of being better able to deal with uncertainty and stress; and better writers) throughout the process, regardless of the results -- which in turn reminds me of the Beckett quote that I wrote above ("Try again. Fail again. Fail better"). Anyway, it's great to have this board; to have "commiseration buddies" as one of you put it so nicely.

OK, here's my list: NYU, New School, UC Irvine, Iowa (this is my philanthropic strand -- can't help thinking I'm giving my money away), Johns Hopkins, UMass Amherst, Michener Center at UT Austin, and perhaps Boston University (their deadline is in March). Still have to edit my sample for UMass and UT (their page limit is lower than other places, right?). I gave up on Columbia and Sarah Lawrence because of funding issues (I can't afford them). And yes, I too regret not having applied to some other places; off the top of my head I can think of Brown, but there were other places I should have applied -- not so prestigious, perhaps, but still good. Because now that I'm rereading my list, I feel my philanthropic strand extends way beyond Iowa :)

Anyway, it's late here (I'm writing from Southern CA), and I'm not making any sense. I'd better try to get some sleep.

See you in the Waiting Room of Purgatory,

Gustavo-PS: One more thing: it's hilarious--many of us seem to have trouble with the statement of purpose. I think the successive drafts of my S of P have managed to compile the worst stuff I've ever written--even worse than these paragraphs, so you get the idea!

Dana Davis / Moderator

Jan 6, 2006, 11:28 AM

Post #14 of 6294 (124369 views)
The Waiting Game Can't Post

In Reply To
OK, here's my list: NYU, New School, UC Irvine, Iowa.... Johns Hopkins, UMass Amherst, Michener Center at UT Austin, and perhaps Boston University

Wow, gussy! That's quite a list!

I'd be curious to know if most people have applied to more than six schools? How did you refine your list?


Jan 6, 2006, 1:34 PM

Post #15 of 6294 (124355 views)
Re: [motet] The Waiting Game Can't Post

Hi Dana,

Re number of schools: When I first applied to grad school (Philosophy) I was made aware that people apply to at least 8 schools--at least, that's what we do in philosophy--, and now, I read in Tom Kealy's blog on MFA programs the same suggestion: 8-12 schools. I know it sounds like a lot, but it makes sense. There are so many factors beyond our control, so many contingencies that may incline one place to pick applicant X over applicant Y (even when both may be equally qualified) that it's worth it to increase your chances by applying to more schools. Let's say that out of the eight schools I'm applying to, 4 reject me because, say, they don't like my writing sample. Two reject me because although they think I'm good, they already have enough students with a similar "profile" (e.g., male international student writing in a style roughly related to writers X, Y, and Z, and with aesthetic credo XX), and then, well, all of a sudden I'm reduced to two schools! One makes me an offer that I can't take because I need full funding, and the last one -- let's end this little story on an optimistic note -- makes me a good offer and I accept. (By talk of "profile" I don't want to imply discrimination. But it seems to be the case, and I think this is good, that programs want to make their best bet at having a group of people that might get along with each other, that have diverse but congenial interests, and so on)

Re refining my list: the criteria I used (listed in no particular order). 1) Funding; 2) location; 3) prestige of the program (whatever that means); 4) faculty. In the little hindsight I have now, I think I paid excessive attention to the rankings. I didn't have much time to do research, and I found this forum and Kealy's blog quite recently. Hence I went with the US News and World Report old rankings at first. I've learned a lot since I've discovered the forum, and I hope to remedy my mistake next year (if I'm not accepted anywhere this year). Faculty: this is tricky, because as someone said in the forum earlier, X may be an excellent writer and a lousy teacher. Funding is just a necessity because I can't afford to pay for school--of course, I'm happy to teach in return (which is what I've done for philosophy). And location, well, I like urban areas, although I'm willing to make the sacrifice of going to Iowa :)

Dana: How do these issues work when applying to a JD? By the way, you may want to check Brian Leiter's blog. He's got a JD and a PhD in Philosophy from Michigan, and now teaches at both the Philosophy Department and the Law School at UT Austin. In his blog he's got a lot of good info. There's a whole section on law schools. I haven't checked it out, but if he's done the kind of work he did for philosophy, it must be very good.

OK, I'm off. See you soon!


Dana Davis / Moderator

Jan 9, 2006, 9:49 AM

Post #16 of 6294 (124282 views)
Re: [gussy] The Waiting Game Can't Post

In Reply To
How do these issues work when applying to a JD?

I'm not exactly sure, Gus. I'm starting an MSW (hopefully) although one of the schools I'm applying to has a joint degree - MSW/JD. The macro MSW concentration does dovetail nicely with a JD.

Thanks for the pointer to Brian Leiter's blog.



Jan 20, 2006, 12:25 PM

Post #17 of 6294 (124184 views)
ISIS Can't Post

Several (not all) of the schools I've applied to have mailed me ISIS passwords and usernames--when you log on, it shows your "application status"--it's either "in progress" or "applied"--do some schools notify you only by ISIS now? Will it show up on ISIS before I get a letter? Any experiences to share?


Jan 25, 2006, 9:59 AM

Post #18 of 6294 (124096 views)
Low Res Folks Can't Post

For those of you who applied to low res, a friend of mine said she had an inquiry call asking whether or not she'd like to start a residency in Washington State in 3 weeks.... It wasn't a definite acceptance but they were most certainly gauging her interest. Anyone else have similar experience (or are hoping to?)
I'm not low res so I must wait patiently until March... but let's keep the lines open for little tidbits of info?


Jan 25, 2006, 11:43 PM

Post #19 of 6294 (124037 views)
Re: [Aubrie] Low Res Folks Can't Post

Aubrie, was it Goddard that called your friend? I got a similar call from Goddard last week for their new Washington state program (I'd applied for Vermont). I declined, though, since I'm applying to a handful of full-time programs as well and need the extra months to hear from them as well.

Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jan 28, 2006, 7:52 PM

Post #20 of 6294 (123944 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

This, my dear friends, is me freaking out. This is me worrying and worrying on a Saturday night when I know in my head the worry is useless. This is the chaos in my head and my heart beating five million times too fast.

EVERY SINGLE DAY I wake up and think "will anyone be reading my application today?" I am applying to PhD programs in American Studies--as well as 2 creative writing fellowships--and all of my deadlines (save one of the fellowships) has passed. The PhD applications are coming after 9 years--LITERALLY 9 years--of my ideas forming and my desire to get a doctorate building and growing. The fellowships are are a result of my desire for just over 9 years to be in an MFA program, to work on my writing, to have space and place for that, to gear myself towards my writing and towards something that puts me smack-dab in the middle of an academic environment. I'm 28 years old. To me, 9 years is a really long time.

One of my schools--the one that, almost every single day, stays my "first choice," is going to call "finalists" in for an interview the weekend of February 9. Every single day, right after I ask myself if anyone is reading my application today, I ask myself if this school is sitting down to discuss applications today--and if they will make phone calls tomorrow?

It's hard as all hell. This waiting game really friggin' blows. The results--should they be favorable--will blow, too--they will be mind blowing and life changing, for me--and it's REALLY hard to go one day (one HOUR) without thinking about them.

I've sort of been seeing this new guy (though I'm not so sure anymore where we stand) who doesn't have a college degree, who dropped out of school in the 10th grade and got his GED. He's been a bit intimidated by me, and he's told me--he thinks I'm really smart, and he doesn't know if he can handle that--and that has, perhaps perversely enough, only ADDED to my application anxieties. Am I too smart? Will the programs find me intelligent? Will they perhaps not find me intelligent enough--or capable enough--or capable in the RIGHT WAYS--to be in their program? Despite the care that I put in my personal statement, despite the things I know my recommenders wrote in my letters, despite my academic background--the work I did in undergrad, the research work I did for student jobs and whatnot--will programs sit there and scratch their heads and wonder what the bloody hell a woman with an MFA in creative writing, and for poetry, is trying to do by applying to PhD programs in American Studies? Will they wonder what on earth makes me think I am intellectually ready for something more analytical in nature than sitting down to write poems?

This runs through my head every day. To some extent--a bit lesser, because I did not know this Mister Man when I was filling out the applications--this was running through my head every single day as I was researching programs, gathering application materials, and putting together the parts of my application. But it was different, because at least then I could *do* something about it. I could choose to give in to my worries and NOT fill out applications, or I could choose to rise above my worries and lock my head and heart into any confidence I could possibly find inside me and fill out applications, write personal statements, write my scholarly writing sample (which I did from absolute scratch--a 15 page academic paper--in the night time, after I got home from one job, which was more-than-full-time, a part time job adjunct teaching, and taking care of some important family business).

Good god let this waiting game be over. Good god give me a result--one way or another, even though I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to be in a PhD program come September. Waiting for some guy to make up his mind about me? Oh, I'm doing that right now, and it's no sweat. It's absolutely no sweat. Waiting for these PhD results? Oh it's starting to get to me. My hands don't have anything to do with the results. They can't affect anything. Before they could--typing into a computer screen, putting words from my head into documents and saving them--but now they are useless. And they are itching and itching...

Am I the only one who's in this well of anxiety? Am I the only one who's sitting here fighting those nerves and worries every single day?


Jan 28, 2006, 9:06 PM

Post #21 of 6294 (123936 views)
Re: [stephkarto1] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

Hi Stephanie,

I, and I'm sure hundreds of other people as well, absolutely understand how you feel. At times I give in to my anxiety too, and pace up and down, and vividly, meticulously imagine the committee members shaking their heads and No, this guy sucks; next one! Or, in overly optimistic but equally unjustified reveries, I see the faces of faculty members saying, We want this guy now! What a great writer!

But you've said it in your post: there's nothing you can do now about that. As hard as this may sound, you have to try to forget about the application process for a while. "Trying to forget" is obviously a contradiction, but you can do things that you find exhilarating -- go for a run, get together with friends, go surfing, hiking, skiing, whatever will draw your attention and enthusiasm. And if you can't stay away from it, at least make it productive: write. Another academic paper, another poem. Or (obviously!) read. Of course, easier said than done, and as a matter of fact it's Saturday night and I too find myself checking the Speakeasy forum, which betrays the fact that I'm thinking about these applications too. But hey, I'm going surfing tomorrow, and I know that the first couple of waves will knock me down because I'll be thinking of all these schools, but after I've swallowed enough salty water I'll get pissed and want to defeat the frigging waves, and then for the next couple of hours I will have forgotten about this whole application nightmare, hopefully riding beautiful waves. And then, of course, there's this girl who's deciding whether she wants to be with me or not, and that sucks too; but -- I say to myself in my most pathetic moments -- at least this takes the pressure off the application process. I guess I must have "transferred" the anxiety from one area to another. Damn! You don't seem to have that problem, though :)

As for your worries about committees wanting you to join their Ph.D. programs, I know dozens of cases (literally dozens) of people who are completing their Ph.D.'s at very good places after years of being out of school. So don't worry. I'm one of those cases, for whatever that's worth. Now that I have a little bit of "insider" information, my advice would be: try not to guess the way the committees will think of you and your work. There are so many factors that enter the evaluation, that it's simply impossible to guess what the outcome will be. Being rejected doesn't necessarily mean you're not intelligent or smart enough to get in -- it may just happen that the year you applied your profile didn't match their search criteria, however good your writing sample may have been. And don't worry about your intelligence intimidating people. That won't happen, on the contrary -- at least, that's my impression from inside a Ph.D. program.

OK, now go get that silly movie that cracks you up whenever you watch it, or that book that captures your attention completely and makes you forget about the world, or that friend that always manages to cure your emotional sanies. As for me, I'll go for a run, and listen to Jeremy Irons reading Lolita -- that's what's doing it for me these days. (Those CD's are fantastic).




Jan 28, 2006, 10:21 PM

Post #22 of 6294 (123931 views)
Re: [stephkarto1] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post


Judging my your neuroses, if you make it into a phd program, you'll be well-suited to the environment of worry that is phd study, and is academia beyond that. really, my advice to you, and you probably don't want to hear this right now, if this liminal state of doubt/anticipation produces paralyzing anxiety in you, you may want to re-adjust your desire to enter a phd program. getting in is only the beginning of the doubt/anticipation treadmill. by no means does it end there. you have to learn to rise above it, forget about it, and move on with whatever it is your doing. even after you have received your phd (if, in fact, you ever do, many, many enlglish graduate students just say "screw it" after they tire from jumping through hopes), you'll have any even harder time landing tenure-track security, that academic safety zone where doubt and anticipation is supposed to recede (but never actually does). so, to you, and to everyone else who feels the same way, phd candidates, mfa candidates, whatever, don't care about whether someone is reading your app. they are or they are not. either way, you have no control. go live you merry little life in the meantime, exercise, go to coffeeshops, write a novel, read the literary journal i edit. write!, for god sakes. and chill out. if you do these things time will go by much faster and you won't need an angioplasty when you're 30.


Jan 28, 2006, 11:19 PM

Post #23 of 6294 (123927 views)
Re: [sbcman9690@] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

Steph- I understand where you are coming from. And I have a feeling that the post is a rant, not a sign of any major neuroses. But yes, sadly, it's Saturday night and I, too, find myself at the message forum, looking to see if anyone's written anything of interest.
I do keep going back and forth with the defeatist attitude, and then the confident "of course I'll get in somewhere" attitude.I think a lot of what shapes the feeling is what else is going on with me (what's going on at work, my relationship, etc). It sounds like it's the same for you. Don't let this guy shake your confidence. Feeling "too smart" is a shame. You're obviously a driven and intelligent person and I find it hard to believe that that would ever work against you.
If you haven't already, read this issue of PW about MFA programs. It made me rethink the admissions process, and on those days when I'm thinking I've wasted precious dollars on application fees and that my application has gone from envelope directly to trash, it's nice to know that there are sooo many different reasons that people aren't accepted to MFA (or PhD in your case) programs.
I will admit to taking the low road--expecting not to be accepted. It's so much easier to be prepared for defeat, and have acceptance be a really pleasant surprise; than to expect the mailman to prance up with fistfulls of acceptance letters. (I don't think he prances anyways.)

Sounds like you will know soon either way. I have a good feeling you won't be disappointed with the results...

As an aside- it seems that most of the accepted applicants found out by phone last year, but I remember almost every school's website says that they will notify by mail only. What gives? Anyone know?

Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jan 30, 2006, 11:57 AM

Post #24 of 6294 (123853 views)
Re: [sbcman9690@] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

Thanks for the post, SBCMan, but here's the thing--I'm prone to worrying. It doesn't mean that I'm a wreck, and it doesn't mean that I am unrealistic or that I should reconsider my desire to enter a PhD program--it means, at least in MY world, that this is something I *really* care about. The things I worry over are the things that I have tended to and cared for the most, that I have challenged myself with and nurtured the most.

That's all.

I know the academic world. I know the grad school world. I know the professional side of the academic world (i.e. being on the tenure track). I know the neuroses that follow, the openings for worry and anxiety and frustration. And here's the thing--I'm really cool with all of that! Truly! It's a world that I'm actually quite cut out for--the corporate world doesnt suit me. The nonprofit world is a good fit for so long (I am just at the 2 year mark working in a nonprofit that, actually, I am getting ready to leave come the end of April). For me there are neuroses everywhere. It's just a fact of my life. Really, at the end of the day, it's a matter of which set of neuroses I can handle the best.

And for me, here's the thing. I am leaving my job the end of April, regardless of the outcome of my applications. I'm ready for things to change drastically in my life. I have had this idea for doctoral work that I have been chewing inside my mouth for the last 9 years (literally). While I was working 2 jobs (that have often felt like 3 jobs in the last year) and taking care of my sick, elderly grandmother, and trying to work on my writing when I can, I have been slaving away at these PhD applications. I poured a lot of money, time, energy, and heart into this process. Since I realized about a year ago that I finally feel *ready* to tackle a doctorate, I have poured so MUCH of myself into something that, at the end of it all, may not work out (at least for this year). So if I am worried--and if I am anxious--and if I have small anxiety attacks over it--and if I have frustrations and uncertainties and insecurities--really, to be ENTIRELY honest with you, I think this is just par for the course. I've put so MUCH of myself--mind and heart and passion and energy and creativity and smarts--onto pieces of paper and into file folders that people who are SO very much outside of me and my immediate world are looking at, discussing, reading, analyzing, and--finally--judging. And this is something I have no control over--you were right when you wrote that in your post--but it's still a really odd situation to be in. One minute, you're slaving away over applications and you have ALL the control in the world (only you decide, when they are finished, whether or not to submit them). The next, once you send them from the post office or click a "submit" button on a computer screen--the ENTIRE process that you spent months tending to--is entirely out of your hands. It's exhausting to think about and it's exhausting to experience.

So I'll keep my anxieties. And I will thank you for your concern. And when you advise me--and anyone else in my situation--to chill out, I hope you can understand why I would like, more than anything, to wish those words to hell. You're entitled to write, say, think whatever you wish, and I don't want to take that away from you. But if you're going to write something that strikes me as callous as "don't care about whether someone is reading your app," well, don't expect me to feel OK with what you are saying or to not want to ask you to be a bit more considerate and diplomatic about your words. Why would I submit my application if I didn't care if anyone was reading it? Why would you care if people read your journal (though obviously you do, or else you would not have taken the chance to promote yourself in a discussion that has nothing to do with literary journals or publishing)?

I find your words callous, uncouth, and obnoxious. I am absolutely entitled to my opinion.

That's all.


Jan 31, 2006, 6:26 PM

Post #25 of 6294 (123757 views)
Re: [Aubrie] The Waiting Game...Have you heard yet??? Can't Post

Aubrie Says:
If you haven't already, read this issue of PW about MFA programs. It made me rethink the admissions process, and on those days when I'm thinking I've wasted precious dollars on application fees and that my application has gone from envelope directly to trash, it's nice to know that there are sooo many different reasons that people aren't accepted to MFA programs.
I will admit to taking the low road--expecting not to be accepted. It's so much easier to be prepared for defeat, and have acceptance be a really pleasant surprise; than to expect the mailman to prance up with fistfulls of acceptance letters. (I don't think he prances anyways.)

In reply to Aubrie:

I just read the MFA article in the latest P & W and it was a real eye-opener for me. It's the most concrete example I've seen so far for talent, innovation, and excellent writing being passed over for ??? (some X factor). On the other hand, it does remind us to keep our chins up if we don't get accepted.

As far as the low road/ defeatist attitude, I had been feeling the same way when I realized that doing so wouldn't actually protect me from disappointment. I'm pretty sure I'll be equally disappointed whether my hopes are up or down. I might as well be optimistic about it.

As far as the MFA article, I liked the angle on finding similar interests for writing circles, just like when musical bands get together. I live in Portland, OR., and the attitude makes sense to me. Anyone else out there from Portland or the Pac NW applying to MFA programs?

Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels

First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 252 Next page Last page  View All

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs


P&W Newsletters

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to stay informed of the latest news, events and more.

Click to Sign Up

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2011. All Rights Reserved