sometimes your dreams just aren’t what life has planned.

Yesterday, I went to the post office, in the hopes of finding what I hoped would be a thick letter, addressed to me, containing all the parephenalia I would need to start my graduate training at the school of my choice (which shall not be named here but you guys all know where I applied to).

I flipped through the mail with eager hands, putting some of my magazines aside for later perusal, throwing out some duplicates.  And there it was.

It wasn’t thick.  It wasn’t bursting with information about the beautiful campus, the challenging programs, or the helpful teachers.  It was thin, and lonely.  And very, very small.

That didn’t bode well.  I knew even before I opened it, but I had to be sure.  So I tore open the envelope with shaking fingers, right there in the middle of the post office.  I got through the first sentence…It is with deep regret that I must inform you…

And I was gone.  In the car, on the phone, shaking, to the sound of my mom’s shocked voice and my own high-pitched incredulousness.

It was never an option that I wouldn’t get accepted.  I had put all of my eggs into that basket, as well as the chicken, an ostrich, a duck, the freaking Cadbury Bunny.  All of my work spun ahead of me like a dreadful tornado.  The months of reading Rilke and Keats.  The hours of trying to figure out just what the hell Chaucer meant in his Middle English.  The sheer poetry of Goethe.  The temper tantrums I threw when I thought I would fail my Quantitative GRE.  And the joy I felt when I passed.

Now, I know some jerks out there are thinking I should place a few calls to my connections.  Hell no.  If I didn’t get into grad school on my own merits, then that’s the way it is.  I will not bribe my way to a Master’s degree.  I was raised better than that.

There are options for me, however.  There are ways I can take courses this fall and spring to prepare me for possible acceptance into the 2011 fall semester.

I just want to write.  And write well.  I need the training to do that.  I have the books I’m writing, plus my blog, and so many opportunities to show my skills.  I hope I can back them up.

Life isn’t fair.  It’s just fairer than death, that’s all. – William Goldman

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10 thoughts on “sometimes your dreams just aren’t what life has planned.

  1. I don't know what school you applied to but I can tell you that you are a good writer. You write interesting tweets and blogs.

    Keep at it as you plan to, and you will get the rewards you earned!

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  2. I had a 3.97 undergrad GPA with a major in creative writing and journalism. I had fab references from all my writing profs, decent GRE scores and (what I thought were) pretty damn good writing samples. I applied to six top MFA schools with no backups, thinking that if I didn't get in to any of them I wasn't at the writing level I needed to be.

    I didn't get in anywhere and, six years later and still MFA-less, I've never been happier with where I am in life (and writing). No matter what happens, you'll be alright. Life takes you where you need to go.

    Good luck!

    p.s. Many, many writers in the universe will tell you that a graduate degree in writing is the last thing you need to become a good writer.

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  3. You are a terrific writer, Ally. You have a wonderful writing style and I look forward to, and enjoy reading your blogs. Don't get discouraged. Life is a series of little bumps in the road and you'll get through this one just fine. Just don't give up on your dreams. Looking forward to reading your NYT Bestseller soon!

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  4. Hi Ally,

    Wow, reading your entry was like deja-vu…I experienced the same thing on Tuesday. I only applied to the one school I wanted to attend (for an MFA) and not getting in wasn't an option. My reaction was pretty much exactly like yours, I just couldn't believe it. I too am looking into taking courses in the fall (and maybe even in the summer) and will reapply again.

    I've read your blog the past year and you are an excellent writer! I have faith that things happen for a reason, and I know your dreams will be realized soon enough.

    Gen

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  5. I'm sorry for your disapointment. 😦 But you don't need a M.A. to become a good writer — you already are.

    Have you considered applying to some writing workshops (Clarion, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, etc.)? Those intensive experiences would probably give you more useful insight on writing than any grad school ever could.

    Also, a friend of mine in Northampton, MA runs a series of writing groups and workshops that might be of interest to you. Info here: http://nerissanields.com/garden-groups.html

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  6. Good writing takes passion and talent, and it's evident you have that. All an advanced degree proves is that you spent a few more years studying and thousands of dollars. I believe that some guy named Shakespeare never went to college, and JK Rowling had a little collection of moderately successful novels with only a BA. You need to write, write, write!

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  7. I went to “Bus Stop” this weekend and really enjoyed it. You were great, as was the rest of the cast. I think you have a great future ahead of you!

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  8. you are such a great writer- as is evident by the amount of people who follow your blog and on twitter. Thank you for sharing your wonderful writings and outlook on life. Just keep writing!

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  9. Greetings Ally,
    I drop by only on occasion which explains the lateness of this comment. Think of writing as a craft. Crafts are best nurtured through apprenticeship and guilds or, in other words, practical training and networking. Another degree is not needed unless your main goal is to teach writing. To make a future career out of this craft find outlets where you write as an “apprentice” (essentially, for minimum compensation) and join writer's groups and conferences. Then continually build up from there. You will gain the knowledge you need through the apprenticeship and the opportunities through the guild.

    Kirk Sinclair
    Norfolk, CT

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