Lots of new acceptances have been going out and, as April 15 gets nearer, many of you are starting to look forward to finalizing decisions about what to do and where to be next year. Yet others have not had their good news yet, and continue to wonder whether they'll get in anywhere at all. Going through the application process is both a learning experience and a sobering process. So many of us are not really sure what to expect, one way or the other, when we first set our sights on the CW MFA. If you're like me, you jumped in with both feet, hoping for the best but with a paltry sense of what might happen realistically.
I feel lucky, in that I was accepted into one of my top-choice schools last year. The acceptance came relatively late in the process, in mid March of 2007. At that point I'd already been rejected by three of the Really Big Name programs. To say that I was starting to feel dejected is an understatement. I could barely touch my breakfast in the morning anymore. Happily, the good news came at last, instantly putting perspective on everything. OK. Really Big Name U. didn't want me, but another of my top-choice schools did definitely, emphatically want me. Immediately I felt as if everything were going to work out just fine. And, it turns out, it's worked out stellarly. In the last year I've learned more about writing and how to be a better writer than I would have thought possible when I first began to think about going for the mythical MFA.
Just a year ago, when I still hadn't been accepted anywhere, I was thinking about my options and at one point planning on moving somewhere quiet to write on my own, away from all things MFA. If things hadn't worked out as they did in the end, I might be writing this from some sleepy town in New Mexico or Oregon. But I also think I learned that if I had it to do over again, I would not put so many of my eggs into the one basket of the biggest name, most elite schools (the three Really Big Name programs I mention above admit a grand total of thirteen students in fiction between them, I think... I mean, what are the chances?) I toyed with the idea of applying again if no acceptances came my way--to more programs and certainly to more of the great, fully funded "sleeper" programs that are out there. So many options to consider back then, and so much uncertainty. It was both an exciting and a scary time.
Yet things have, one way or the other, worked out just great. Along the way, I've adjusted my expectations and my actions to new realities. None of it has been a cakewalk, and I'm working harder than ever now. As it happens, I'm happier than ever, too, and my writing is growing by leaps and bounds. So... it begins with uncertainty, and it can feel like a meaningless lottery. But sooner or later things click into place, or you reassess and adjust and come up with a new plan. And I don't think any of it goes to waste. If you're willing to work, your effort pays off, sooner or later.
For those of you still waiting to hear, keep the faith. And keep working at it.