Rejection is a Dish Served On-Line [Piping Hot Nerd]

I just got my rejection letter from the Creative Writing MFA program at Hunter College in New York City. I guess I don’t have to tell you now that I applied. It is one of the best programs in the country and they will not be having me this fall. Their choice, not mine.

I knew going in that they only take 12 people a year. That way if they were going to do a “Men and Women of Hunter College Creative Writing MFA” calendar there would be no squabbling.

When I get rejected from things like this I go straight to – “Where did you ever think you could write? What a fool to think you could get into this program. You suck. In fact you make me sick.” Or a variation of this. I did it with the Warner Brothers Writer’s Program in Los Angeles years ago. (Thin letter, not thick letter. Now it is all on line. Fewer megabytes used for rejections: “Thank you for your interest, it was more than ours. Sorry.”)

In advance of the result, I tried to prep for all scenarios. Getting accepted was easy: Open email, see they want me, go “Yay!!” But getting rejected I was working for the “You know they only take 12 people and 100s apply. Make sure you do not go do the shame spiral. Just accept that that is that and you have to find another avenue for your writing. It does NOT mean you are not a good writer. It does not mean that at all. ” I think this practice paid off mostly.

It is funny, however, how a huge ego is always attached to low self-esteem.

“I suck” meets “Really, you got 12 pieces that were better than the genius piece I wrote? Did you even read it? Was it too subtle for you? You don’t like to laugh?! No, YOU suck.” I had much the same reaction to Warner Bros. and about everyone who has broken up with me. “I am a piece of shit, but good luck finding better!!!”

Now that it has been a week I am kind of laughing at myself. I have to ask myself: “And how many times have you applied to one of the most respected creative writing programs in the country plus any writing program?” Once.

“And how many pieces of fiction have you written?” Does a Frasier spec count?

In the the movie version, I get into the program, I struggle (because you need that for the movie version, struggle) and then I get published and go on my book tour, I meet The One, we fall in love and my tweed coat with elbow patches gets flung on the floor as we make love surrounded by bookcases and a view of Central Park.

The reality version. I get rejected. I take the opportunity to be grateful for the great experience I had in applying (I got KILLER references, I wrote a piece about a middle-aged, drunken flight attendant who planned to kill himself when they landed in Austria, and I wrote a honest and funny letter of intent. ) It was all worth it. And now I figure what next? A writer’s group? Writing classes? Prep harder for next year and apply to more programs? Don’t’ know yet.

So I tried. I applied. Woody Allen got rejected from NYC film school. Okay he was half my age but still. There is time enough for me.

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featured image credit: wallyg