Mar 9, 2009, 8:56 PM
I've learned quite a bit from this MFA application process. I've been accepted at two good Top 10 programs, but also rejected by three others (Michigan, Brown, Texas). I am, by my own admission, not a very talented writer (in the way someone like Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf are talented writers). It takes me forever to finish a story. What some of you more talented folks take a week to finish, I usually take a month. I am, however, very relentless. I write often and sometimes, without a plan.
Anyway, here's what I learned from this past season of MFA applications (note: this only applies to what I myself learned):
1. GPA doesn't matter
2. Age doesn't matter
3. Honest from-the-heart Personal Statements resulted in acceptances -- to the extent that such a correlation exists. I sent out Three honest ones and three artificial ones. All the artificial ones were sent to schools that ultimately rejected me. Two of three honest ones were sent to schools that accepted me. Again, perhaps there's no correlation.
4. No need to send out my "best" writing. In fact, I sent out manuscripts where I took some bold risks even though I thought they did not represent my "best" writing. And what the hell does "best" writing mean anyway? I honestly don't know. So, from my risky manuscripts, I got two acceptances and three rejections, with one pending.
5. After the application has been sent, DO NOT BOTHER the MFA Admissions Office. Just lay low.
6. Keep writing. The next story might be better than anything you've ever written.
7. Keep submitting. At worst, status quo. At best, you get some feedback from editors who may sometimes comment on your stories. For one of my stories, which I submitted to MFA programs, one lit mag editor wrote back, "The intro is strong, but the turmoil experienced by your minor character was distracting, if not altogether unnecessary." Great! Now, I can revise that story for future submissions!
8. Make plans for next year by assuming the MFA thing won't work out. Makes rejections less painful. In my mind, I've already moved on. And when a letter from an MFA program arrives, I'd just think, "Oh, that thing?"
9. Running and exercising often kept my spirits up.
10. Stay away from junk food and TV. But it's okay to eat donuts and ice cream though. And "Survivor." It's okay to look forward to Tribal Council. You know...all that drama.
(This post was edited by Raysen on Mar 9, 2009, 8:59 PM)