Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto # 60 Apply for my MFA, Part 1

Okay, okay, I must admit, I am a bit of an aficianado for school. I'm a self-confessed keener, better yet, nerd. I love school and learning so much, it is no wonder that I find myself today in the profession of teaching with 3 university degrees under my belt. Something, I love even more than being in front of the classroom and that is being on the other side. I love to be a student.

I also love to write. I feel that writing is my first language and if I were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring two things, they would be my journal and my pen. I began to illustrate and write picture books at the age of 7. I started keeping a journal at age 9 and now I have more than 30. At 10, one of my picture books was put on display at the head office of my school board. I began to write my first novel during the summer after grade 7. At my grade 8 graduation, I received awards for both Art and English. After conceptualizing a newspaper for years as a child, I wrote articles and an advice column in my high school newspaper and then continued in my college, university, and community publications. By an English teacher, I was encouraged to enter a playwriting competition for teens (which I lost) but I did direct one of my plays onstage in high school. At the age of 20, I completed an internship at Psychology Today magazine in New York. Throughout my illness, I have been writing faithfully in my journal and now to an audience of 32, 000+ through this blog. Last summer, I attended a writing retreat. I took a writing class two years ago as well as this fall. I write songs for my students to sing. Recently, I have also accepted a role as the new Thry'vors News Editor and Newsletter Committee Chair for Thyroid Cancer Canada. I live, eat, and breathe writing and at times in my life, I forgot that.

Throughout my healing journey, no matter how tired or drowsy I felt, I always mustered the energy to write. Writing is my release. I dive into new journals with such a voracity and passion that I forget the time, fatigue, my hunger, and pain. Many a time during my recovery, I found myself exhausted after writing a piece but not feel the fatigue during the act. Despite all of my artistic pursuits which include music and visual arts, writing has been the most honest and fearless means of expression for me. I am much more likely to "bare all" in my writing, exposing my words to audiences with boldness and comfort than in other areas of my life. My writing is a window into my soul.

So you may beg to ask, why did I not pursue writing professionally? I did not take it seriously enough, maybe. I did not think I was good enough, maybe. I did not know that I could make a living from writing or how to make a living from it. My immigrant parents encouraged me to follow more practical pursuits. I was a bit of a rebel for becoming a teacher and not a nurse as was expected. In fact, when I dated a writer for a time, I was asked by my mother, "Can you make a living at that?" I guess, God has other plans for me.

It has become quite clear to me that I wish to devote more time to perfecting my craft and fulfilling my childhood dream of writing books that get published.

In The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Sharma describes people who are truly happy as those who find and work at their bliss. There is no doubt that my fiance's bliss is in music. Now I know I've found mine and it is definitely writing. I feel like I can not afford to waste any time but must pursue this dream.

So I decided to apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. This program is ideal since it is an optional residency meaning that students can choose to attend the writing residency in Vancouver, British Columbia while the other components are instructed online. So the practical side of me would be really happy since I could continue teaching on the other side of the country while completing my MFA and I could do the residencies over the summer. Within a few weeks of making the decision to apply, I managed to gather my reference letters and documents, submit 3 samples of my writing to UBC, and pay all of those fees.

For the last few months, I have waited for a response and I finally received one this week.

I did not get in.

My first official rejection as a writer. (Now I can join the club of countless rejected writers.) I am not completely surprised by the outcome. I think that my application was a bit rushed and I could have spent more time editing the submissions. Ironically, I can tell you that this letter actually makes me want to apply to the program again (as well as others). The rejection letter is hopeful and full of promise and I do not feel discouraged by it but compelled to try again. The letter even has a type-O (it's December 10, 2011 not 2010) which tells me that "Hey, no one is perfect. Not even the Chair for the Creative Writing program who writes rejection letters." So maybe there is a chance for me at an MFA in Creative Writing. All jokes aside, I am so glad that I at least applied to this program ("good old college try") and maybe this is not the right time for me to do an MFA, but it will be my turn one day.

UBC Creative Writing
Optional-Residency MFA Program
December 10, 2010

Name: Blue Butterfly

Dear Blue:

I am writing to let you know that unfortunately we are unable to offer you a position in the 2012 UBC Optional-Residency MFA program. We are only able to accommodate a small percentage of the many applicants we receive each year. The quality of the applications is always high and faculty have to make some difficult decisions. We can usually only accept 20 to 25% of applicants each year.

I can tell you, however, that your portfolio made our shortlist this year. This list consists of approximately 40% of the applications received and manuscripts on the shortlist are those which our faculty feel have a great deal of promise. From this shortlist, the smaller acceptance list is generated.

Your application was read and evaluated with care by our faculty members. That being said, we do not pretend to be the final arbiter of what is excellent or successful writing. Evaluating writing is always a difficult, subjective process, and many writers who have been turned down by a publisher, institution or writing program have gone on to great success.

Our decision definitely does not close the door to another application at a later date, and indeed we encourage shortlisted students to reapply. Every writer grows by revising old work and writing new material. Should you wish to try again, we would welcome your application; to make this easier we will keep your transcripts and related application materials on file for one year.

We regret that we cannot provide individual students with information about why they were not accepted; it is not uncommon, however, that students with strong work in one genre but weaker work in other genres are not accepted – we do look in particular for ‘well-rounded’ portfolios and faculty from all our genres read the applications with this in mind.


UBC Creative Writing

1 comment:

Angie Barrington said...

Congratulations on your new News Editor gig! -Ang