MFA Rejection: A Real Kick in the Wiener

Learning new stuff rules. Honestly, it’s one of my fav things to do, which makes my gig at the reference desk at a library work out pretty well. When students come up with some totally obscure topic I get super stoked to start sifting through the databases because I know I’m going to find something interesting. Well, that’s not all the way true. Digging up case law for paralegal students is hell on Earth. No joke, man. That stuff makes me want to throw myself from the stacks.

When I started writing–and I mean started writing for realsies–I began researching how to become a better writer. Being the uber-nerd that I am, I figured I should look into some college classes on the subject. I found a couple workshop type classes at the junior college but didn’t get much out of them aside from a hatred people who write manuscripts in crazy fonts. After that bout of nonsense I decided to look into some graduate programs and found a little something called an MFA. Most of the schools had a serious case of we’re-artsier-than-you, but some of them seemed legit. So I picked a few schools that seemed to be the least douchey, stuffed my hopes of being a writer into manilla envelopes, and waited for the mailman to bring me a pile of acceptance letters.

Weeks later, the responses started rolling in and they were all the worst kind of bad. According to those hacks I didn’t have the chops to be a real writer. They wanted art, baby. And the only people who thought my writing was art were the same bumpkins who preferred their Elvis paintings done on velvet.

Getting rejected was a serious kick in the wiener, but now that I have some distance from those rejections I can pull a whole bunch of lessons out of the experience. Those letters were just like any other from an editor who says my story isn’t his or her kind of thing. Looking at it like that helps me get some perspective on the whole deal, which has motivated me to work harder than I did when I was applying.

Have you had experience with an MFA program? Are you a graduate, a dropout, or a reject like me? What–if anything–do you think about them?

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