Saturday, November 14, 2009

MFA Anxiety

Microsoft Office is downloading an update to the ol' computer. So I'm going to flex my writing muscles on the blog this morning. This has been a jam-packed semester, so blogging has been a low priority for the last couple of months. Now, though, I'm going to take advantage of this lull to blog about my anxieties. Hooray!!!

Things are going fairly well for my MFA application process at this point. The GRE is over and done with, I have two out of three people I need to recommend me, and I'm actually staying on top of the process. I have two stories I like and am working on a third. All of these are good.

However . . . I am constantly having to pray about the subjectivity of MFA admissions. You can write an excellent story, but if the wrong people don't like your stuff, you're out of luck. In a recent article in Poets and Writers Benjamin Percy (an excellent writer, in my opinion) mentioned that one of his stories was rejected for publication 39 times. Once it was finally published, Salman Rushdie picked it as an honorable mention for Best American Short Stories. That was a happy ending for Benjamin, but my mind keeps going back to the strong possibility that I won't have a 'Salman Rusdie.'

I suppose it's a good thing that these thoughts move me to pray, but I think it would be better to just not be anxious. "Be anxious for nothing" and all that. I think the anxiety rises from a few sources:

1. I've never been this uncertain about applying for anything. I was quite certain I would get into my undergrad schools and seminary. But for MFAs there are so many applicants and so few slots nationwide that the percentages are against me.

2. I've never wanted something as much as I want this, career-wise. This is the path I want to take, so not getting into the MFA would be a blow.

3. I don't have a good solid idea for what I would do in the immediate aftermath of 14 rejection letters. I reckon it would involve a hasty retreat to West Virginia, but what then? Apply again? Distance programs, maybe? What do I do in the meantime? I can teach, but how many jobs are there available for chaps like me?

All that said, I do have good reasons not to be anxious. I believe God called me in the direction of writing. That doesn't mean that I'm guaranteed an MFA slot, but it does mean that God is taking care of me. God surprises us sometimes (surprise, Paul! You've been bitten by a venomous snake!) but then he surprises again with his deliverance (the venom won't harm you. Surprise again!).

Thanks, God. I feel better.


Rex Queems said...

Look at me and ask what God can do if he wants you there. God will sustain you no matter what buddy.

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