It sounds oxymoronic for a writer to enjoy rejection. But I do. It can be frustrating, but it means I’m getting somewhere. Or, at least, if I’m not getting somewhere, it forces me to readjust my perspective, my priorities. If something isn’t working, then I need to try something else.
Over the past seven weeks of querying, I’ve only gotten one request. The rest were rejection letters. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m disgustingly optimistic, maybe it’s that the one request was from my dream agent, but no matter the reason, I haven’t felt so bad about those rejections. At least I’m finally, finally querying.
Then, last week, my first grad school rejection came in.
I applied to four graduate MFA programs in January, hoping to further my writing and possibly gain another 2-3 years to figure out what I want to DO with my life. The application process was stressful, the intervening weeks filled with doubt. Could I really get in, since I write genre fiction, not literary? Did all the schools receive my transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.?
When that first rejection materialized in my inbox, it was like the answer to all my questions. Not necessarily that I wasn’t good enough, but that maybe this wasn’t supposed to be part of the plan. I could be wrong; I could get another email this week admitting me to an MFA program. But the thing is, I don’t think I will. And oddly enough, that’s okay.
I don’t want to be a teacher. I know that now. I’ve had some amazing teachers these four years of undergrad, but that’s not what I want to do. And I don’t want to be made to student-teach in a program when I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t want to realize too late that the entire program is not what I want. Also (and this is an even bigger one for me), I don’t want to be enslaved to the literary genre. I write fantasy and science fiction. No matter how wonderful literary can be (I don’t know, since I don’t write it), I would hate to be made to fit into a category I don’t belong in. I know some programs allow genre, but I don’t know if any of the ones I applied to do.
So, in the end, I think not getting into an MFA program might be the best thing for me. If I don’t, I’m going to take a year or two to work and really think about what I want to do. Then I’m going to reapply to graduate school, but in something else, something that really interests me. Some programs accept students from all kinds of undergrad degrees. Or I could apply for an MA in English. Whatever it is, I’ll know it’s what’s right when it doesn’t cause me any stress, only excitement. And I’ll know it’s what I should have been looking for all along.