Monday, October 6, 2008

Signed Sealed Delivered...

I talked to Vivian, my very honest bestie, to discern if there was something in me I had missed, some part of my efforts to evolve that had failed so badly, they warranted Dianna's treatment of me. I discussed some of my particular weaknesses, finding an accord: that nothing really added up to her conclusion. Then, I cleared my head of all the mucus that had compacted itself inside of it, and moved on. I set my application to Bennington, on which I'd worked so hard, to the side, and returned my focus to Lesley.

My essay, my writing sample for both schools were similar, but not the same. Still, working from the first was easier than working from scratch. I rewrote my essay to Lesley, which had to be much shorter than Bennington's. As any writer knows, shortening is always harder than proliferating. I got it done though, working with the same determination I had been for the previous months when I began to work on my Bennington application.

Because I write in three forms, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, I felt the need to represent all three in my application to Bennington, in spite of the fact that I was applying only in Non-Fiction. At Lesley I was allowed to apply in however many fields I chose, and so I decided to apply in Non-Fiction and Poetry. I believed my work in fiction, though more plentiful, was my weakest. This was a hard choice. On one hand I wanted to get in, and felt that I should represent my best work to better ensure admission. However, I want to enter a writing program to improve my work, and really wanted to work in the area that I felt was weakest.

The truth, though, that I always have to return to, is that my fiction pieces are primarily biomythographies. Part of my writing of fiction is related to my love for the genre, part of it is my desire to hide behind it. It's so much easier to tell certain stories to the world and pretend you aren't talking of yourself. Fiction for me is akin to that "friend" we always get advice for. Maybe, I had to admit, the reason my fiction is so much weaker is because I have yet to have a fictious story to tell. Maybe I need to tell my story and get on with it, own up to it.

Aside: The samples of non-fiction were excerpts from a memoir I've been working on called Honest: A Break Up Memoir. I originally pedalled it as a novel. One of my readers challenged me as such: "It seems more like a true story than fiction..." What was I to say? I decided to just girl up and brave it out. Now, year having passed, since the incidents detailed, it seems a bit easier to do, but only with that memoir. I had to battle against the urge to write yet my next difficult story into a work of fiction, but that's a later post...

Bennington required I think 20 to 25 pages of non-fiction. What I decided to do (risky) was submit 20 pages of non-fiction, three pages of fiction and three poems (two pages). I figured, if they discarded the extraneous items, I'd still have submitted the minimum, that with those items I did not exceed the maximum number of pages, and that if they reviewed the materials, they would give insight into my particular style of writing. But, of course, this well thought out sample did not get submitted.

For my application to Lesley, I met the maximum number of required pages in both non-fiction and poetry. They allow you to submit both in one application. I refrained from submitting in fiction also. Sometimes I regret this. It would have been informing, the reaction from the review team. But now it's too late for that, right? Kinda.

I went to Teddy, my second recommender, taking the form and having him complete it on the spot. He sealed it, and I mailed it. Nehassaiu mailed her recommendation, and I mailed my application.

I want to say that, while I was working out my whole writing sample concern, I did call the school. I spoke with several people and they were terrific about answering my questions and providing me with information I didn't know I needed. They did let me know, however, that I was a bit on the late side for June consideration. I rushed my packet out.

I have to say that there is something to be said for that feeling. I took that hefty envelope to the post office, they weighed it and I paid to have it delivered. I left the weight of years of hesitation and self doubt on that post office scale. I had taken a long desired step toward a future scribed with deep blu letters.


DarwinGirl said...


i really enjoy reading your blog! i am on my own road to the mfa. like you, i applied to two schools and have decided on bennington (fiction) - see you there!

my own journey here has been convoluted. like you, i never considered a career in writing. i walked into a freshman biology class and stuck around. and stuck around. and stuck around. three degrees and a decade later, i've finally figured out that i want to be (scratch that - need to be) a writer. still feels really good to say that out loud!

so i started applying to low-res mfas this summer and here i am. if not for your blog and others i may have driven my family crazy with all the mfa panic. it's cool to see that i'm not the only one that could write a novel about getting to this place.

congrats on your journey - see you in january!


Blu said...

hey darwingirl!

see! this is why i started this blog. to share with others so they know they are not alone, and to make myself accessible to others so they can let me know that i've got company too! how exciting that you also will be traveling to bennington in january! fiction huh? i'd have been jealous about that in the past. but then again, in the past i'd have still been insisting that my memoirs were novels! lol! anyway, that's how they read, i think. so the literary style i love is what i write.

biology, wow. you know how it goes, you're smart, so you should do something hard and unfun. writing is too much of a pleasure to be considered the work of a high school brainiac. what's really interesting is that everyone looks at the classic writers, such as toni, alice, james, richard, as being geniouses.

it puts me in the mind of my girl that's an ob/gyn who wants to be an interior designer. i so want her to quit, but i'm sure you know how people have to come into their own with that sort of thing, and in their own time. taking risks! who can do that before their ready? i have another friend who left architecture after 10 years to be a floral designer. everyone around me is an artist intellect, so they better take note and just get where they belong. lol!

well, obviously i'm giddy having heard from you. i hope you'll stay in touch. glad you like the blog. if you continue to read it, you'll have doubled my subcribers! lol!

i wonder, do you love cali? do you miss ny? i plan to move somewhere warm in 2011... right after we graduate girl!


DarwinGirl said...


you said it right about taking risks. after so long everyone around you starts to identify you by what you do. i have never had a circle of writer friends - my writing has always been this private thing that i did that no one except my husband knew about. now that i've started to pursue writing as a career, i've had to speak my dreams outloud. the responses have been everything from supportive, to confused, to "awwww, what a cute little hobby." i'm just starting to learn that none of that matters.

wow, non-fiction... i have to tell you, for one of my apps, i decided to 'experiment' (like a true scientist) and write a memoir piece for my manuscript. i really had to keep checking myself as i wrote - the desire to exaggerate and turn fact to fiction was so great. the story itself was powerful in its own way, but i kept wanting to mythologize in an effort to make it better. it was one of the hardest exercises i've ever done. most of the writers that i've been reading lately are memoirists and i have a complete respect for the genre - it's got to be hard to be so honest all the time. great luck with completing your memoir!

so cali... really, what's not to love? i live just north of san diego and it's just beautiful. the ocean, the mountains, the desert - there's a amazing amount of natural beauty all around me. And the weather is perfect... all the time! the vibe is great, the people are great, the energy is great. it's a high-energy environment - like summertime on the east coast, except year-round. the brooding, smoking, loathing new yorker in me wants to hate it, but that person is quickly edging towards extinction.

definitely make the move. the world is too big to anchor yourself to any one place for too long!