Oct 18, 2008, 3:04 PM
Well, I just accidentally erased the post I was posting, so this might be shorter/not as well written as it was originally. Oops.
Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List"
1) Flobelle, just FYI, I think you got me (als02) mixed up with anjldust in an earlier post (the one I'm replying to). I'm not an experimental writer and am applying to traditional, literary-narrative schools (and did first round, aka Michigan) because... well, I'm not an experimental writer. And I don't think anjldust (who said s/he discovered s/he probably is an experimental writer) wrote which schools s/he'd be applying to this time around (after s/he discovered the experimental nature of his/her work).
2) That aside, I know several writers who didn't get into what you might deem top-tier schools and have ended up with very successful careers. I've also heard many stories about writers who applied to 12 schools, got rejected from "lower-tier" schools only to be accepted in some of the number one schools. Kind of a conundrum, if you ask me. I mean, if they're fantastic writers, why didn't they get accepted to all the schools they applied to? Or, if a writer is very successful now but didn't go to Iowa or Columbia or whichever schools you might deem the best, why didn't they get into their first-choice school before? I don't think the school you get into makes you a successful writer, nor do I think someone should judge their potential as a writer based on the MFA program they get into. And I also believe that just because you don't get into the school you want doesn't mean you're horrible and should find a new passion or career path. I think you could still be a good writer and not get into Iowa. Maybe I'm saying this because of the 12 rejection letters I got last spring, but it's not so much self-defense as it is statistics.
For example, if a school has 300 applicants and accepts ten, an applicant might not be thrown out with the bath water (aka the 250 the professors/readers throw out after reading the first page and deem as having no talent). They might even make the cut, with other "good" writers, to the top 15, 25, 50--whatever. In fact, they might even be #11. Could even be on the waiting list! But competition's stiff. However, if that writer says, "Man, I got rejected. That must mean I suck. I should quit while I'm ahead," well, I think that'd be to bad. I mean, I was in charge of hiring employees before, and when you get a bunch of good applicants and good interviews, it really can be tough to make the final call. Doesn't mean you think the one you didn't hire is horrible and should sweep streets or something. Just means they didn't get the job (for any number of reasons) but could be just as successful after another year of resume building or if they seek a similar position at a different firm/business/office/etc.
I think it's also important to remember what field we're in. Maybe you don't get rejections, and maybe your friends don't get rejections, but I think most writers (again, even now successful ones) suffer through their fair share of rejections. Any artist does. But if all writers threw in the towel and threw up their hands when they got rejected from an agent, magazine, or whatever, we might be missing some good writers today. So, I don't really agree with your logic. As with any subject within the arts--music, visual arts, theater, dance-- the writing field is competitive and subjective, whether it's applying for MFAs or trying to get that book published.
(This post was edited by als02 on Oct 18, 2008, 3:07 PM)