Monday, March 14, 2011

The Grad School Saga

Okay, I get lots of rejection letters.  I've gotten at least fifty in the last two years, regarding my stories and essays which I put a lot of time and effort and, you know, soul into. Some of them were really disappointing.  But this is, quite seriously, the coldest rejection letter I have ever gotten:

Via e-mail:


March 14, 2011

ID Number:  [redacted]

Dear Ms. Gan:

Your application for admission to [name of university] to study in the Creative Writing (MFA) program has been carefully reviewed by your department. Based on their recommendation, I regret to inform you that we cannot act favorably on your application.

If you wish further information regarding this action, please feel free to contact the Creative Writing (MFA) program at:

You may wish to consider other degree/certificate programs at [name of university]. Information and web links are available at [unhelpful website].

We thank you for your interest in [name of university] and wish you success in your future endeavors.


Graduate College

I'm not super surprised, however, that I got rejected.  For your amusement, this is the most likely answer I can give you: my personal statement.  (Understand that I took a pretty serious gamble on the fact that it was a creative writing program and that I will never be able to fully shake my, um, aversion to authority figures.)

Prompt:  A personal statement including your writing background, intended area of specialization, a brief self-evaluation of recent work, and goals.

My essay:  
In preparation for my course of graduate study, I had an existential crisis my junior year of college, changed majors, read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, wrote a thesis on whether or not my self existed and whether it was important if it did, refused to attend my own graduation ceremony, had a cap and gown foisted on me by my boyfriend's mother anyway, read Eat, Pray, Love, broke up with my boyfriend, moved in with my ex-boyfriend Peter, went on a cross-country road trip with Peter to visit all of my other ex-boyfriends, wrote a book about it.  I read Franny and Zooey, taught myself to play the guitar, started running again, drank enough Jack and Diets to fill a small lakebed, got a job as a line cook, quit my job as a line cook, fell in with a Sufi Dervish who asked me to move to Boston with him, almost moved to Boston with him until it became apparent that he only needed a supplemental income for his rented room in the Sufi House, tried not to kill Peter when he said, “I told you so,” read The Subterraneans, cried a lot.   
   I spent a whole summer unemployed, met a new friend, moved in to her old apartment when she moved out, introduced her to Peter, tried not to feel like a third wheel, fell in love with her ex-boyfriend, lost both of them, drove to San Diego to see an old high school friend, experienced my first earthquake, wrote a story about it all.   I read Twilight, tried to parse out feminist me from the part of me that loved Twilight, stayed single for a whole year, learned to broil steaks.  I read Man's Search for Meaning and Seneca's On the Shortness of Life, realized I couldn't do work I loathed for eight hours a day and still consider myself a functional human being, got a job at the Arizona Science Center, ran a half-marathon along the rim of the Grand Canyon, got a story published and nominated for a Pushcart Prize, discovered the only writer I knew had joined the Peace Corps and moved to Mongolia, and decided to apply to grad school to find more and better writers to talk to.  
My weaknesses as a writer are as follows: hot cups of tea, the way the sky looks in any state west of the Continental Divide, double yellow lines, the sound and rhythm of the King James Bible, coniferous forests, wiry men with blue eyes who lean against walls to pack their cigarettes, kittens, Uniball pens, Fitzgerald, 2 a.m., cars with their windows down, Jack and Diets, fireflies, hookahs, cheap airfare, the entire country of France, an inclination towards the term “thing” to help preserve interesting sentence structures, large bodies of water, Annie Proulx, new blue jeans, Highway 61 Revisited.
  My strengths as a writer, on the other hand, are such: an inability to tell a lie without extreme physical discomfort; general disdain for all television shows except House, M.D.; a tendency to allow the qualifier interesting to take precedence over the qualifier kind when it comes to choosing my friends; the ability to sit at a desk for nine hours at a time; a temperament that leads me to withold judgment while always believing in the best of people; the most ridiculous good luck; the inability to be told what to do or how to think; a perfectionist streak.


  1. Upon reading your essay, I wouldn't have accepted you either.

  2. Hahaha, I got so excited that I had a new comment. Fail.