Tom Petty sings that waiting is the hardest part and oh, man, was he singing about MFA programs. I think he was…he just didn’t know it. There are two women living in my apartment right now, the AEIC and me (and yes, it looks wrong, but it is the AEIC and ME and not I, which would be incorrect, because you wouldn’t say “I and the AEIC,” but you would say “me and the AEIC,” so back to what I was saying), who are so attuned to the faint vibrations of a phone that we could hear the phone ring in the apartment across the hall. AND there are two computers constantly refreshed in the hopes of an elusive email and we have kept a weathered eye (I used it, indeed, I can be as cliché as I want on my blog) on social media that showcases the happy/soul-crushing news (another one :)) of someone else taking your spot away from you at various dream schools.
In fact, so great is the sense of impending loss that I worry about the fallout from the Great MFA Battle of 2012. How does one recover from the trauma that is the rejection of your work, your precious? How do you look your computer in the eye and conjure up characters that live on the page if you feel that they look back at you from the screen in dejected silence? It is all so very bleak, un-delightfully bleak, utterly bleak, to the nth degree. So to cheer myself up I decided to look at some of my favorite authors and many never made it to the MFA level. Is it something I want…hell yes, I would probably explode into a quivering mass of persimmon colored mush that giggled uncontrollably for the next three years if I got in, but in the absence of that can I continue to be inspired? Can the casualties of this battle pick our broken, bloodied dreams up from this field of poppies and shamble home to mend…and then do we do it again next year?
I’m ashamed to say that my talent, while a large and majestic lion, lives in the confidence of a cub (a sad, doubting Thomas of a cub) and right now it feels as if I’ve put it in a corner for an extended timeout. But no more! I needed to vent, and so I have, and now comes the time to forget about licking wounds and use the pain to write. (I think I just lied to myself…I’m still all cub-like and terrified. Like the puppy that can’t stop shaking even though you’re being nice to it and holding it just right…how does anyone survive this wait?) I understand why some writers dug their graves with alcohol, and others with guns (the cub-like nature makes both these options impossible, but still, I have begun to feel the gnawing in my bones); the waiting kills. The doubt, the need for validation, the waiting for good news/the almost certainty of bad news, the fear of both, the wanting something so bad that you can almost touch it/feel it/taste it. It is almost enough to drive one into the abyss.
I think I just need a good dinner. I’m over-thinking it. I need more faith.
If you’re in the same boat with me, I hope you know I commiserate with you, dear reader. But rejection isn’t personal, we can’t all get in somewhere as the physics of that wouldn’t work and we should just keep telling ourselves that. Maybe we are just too awesome and have to go through this horrible, horrible, process in order to tap into the true writer at our core…we go in with our baby fat on and come out lean and mean (emphasis on mean) and ready to show those people why they should have picked us. That despite not getting into their precious program that we are intellectually on fire, creatively gravid, and destined to write the novel that redefines the genre (whichever one it is we choose). All it takes to go from bitter persimmon to unctuous food of the gods is a little time. So say it with me fellow waiting game participant — what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger (or maims you for life, but that’s not the message I’m trying to get across…is it?).
Enjoy a little Tom Petty with me 🙂 until then,
I remain, as always, your intrepid (and still fearless) leader,
The Editor-in-Chief, Women in REDzine