I have a lot of regrets when it comes to my MFA application process – I shot too high, didn’t save enough money, changed that one word. Another big regret is all the fucks I gave about everyone else. What bothers me now is that I’m still not done giving fucks.
Post-submission, I got sucked into the vortex of MFA Draft and GradCafe. Together, they make quite the cocktail – equal parts doubt, paranoia, and panic. As people began receiving decisions from schools I was still waiting to hear back from, I heard that voice, I don’t know what you were thinking, Lauren. I mean, did you honestly expect this to work out?
And instead of flipping the bird to that voice, I surrendered to it.
I didn’t write post-submission. I was so afraid that I opted not to take any workshops my first semester. Despite the fact that I had actually been accepted to an MFA program, I couldn’t let myself get too comfortable. They were bound to recognize their mistake, and I would be sent back where I belonged.
My first week of classes reinforced the idea that I wasn’t supposed to be here. I found myself to be the only first-year in a class full of second-years much wiser, focused, and talented than myself. The forced assembly of first-years in Intro. were fierce, hungry, and confident.
It’s taken me eight weeks to discover it’s all bull shit.
MFA programs are not your cohort. MFA programs are not the cohorts before or after you. MFA programs are not your professors. MFA programs are not your classes. MFA programs are not your GA-ship. MFA programs are not your stipend. MFA programs are not workshop. MFA programs are not the bar you go to after class. MFA programs are not your ego. MFA programs are not bringing your personal shit into class. MFA programs are not gossip. MFA programs are not your therapist’s office. MFA programs are not quoting David Foster Wallace, William Faulkner, Joyce Carol Oates. MFA programs are not your arsenal of topical literary references. MFA programs are not the shit you talk about other people. MFA programs are not the shit other people talk about you. MFA programs are not your insecurities. MFA programs are not your analysis of the assigned reading. MFA programs are not your free write. MFA programs are not your latest blog post. MFA programs are not what you publish. MFA programs are not your salvation, your validation.
You are your MFA program. You are the choice.
I don’t understand this character. This scene just doesn’t work for me. What if you wrote this in third-person? Have you thought about having her die at the end? This is so boring. Did you hear what she wrote about – it’s so cliche. This sentence shouldn’t be there. Yeah, I don’t think she’s ever been published. How did she get into this program?
Fuck all that.
Haters gonna hate. Writers are gonna write. Which one are you?