I was waitlisted at the University of Arizona; on Thursday they wrote to tell me that I'd been accepted, but that funding was not guaranteed.
And at first I wasn't even sure what I thought, and I just forwarded the e-mail to my parents and my best friend, and then the next morning everyone was so excited for me that I was ecstatic: I was going to grad school. I would get to spend two years doing what I love best: writing. I went out and celebrated with my friend and told all of my close friends, and I wrote the director of the creative writing program an e-mail telling her I really wanted to go and adding questions and suggestions about potential sources of funding, and everything felt right.
But then it didn't.
Because slowly it dawned on me that even with in-state tuition, I would still have to pay for my living expenses, which would be less, but not much, than they are now. And I would have time to write, but I would also have to dedicate time to attending class and reading a lot of other people's writing. So I would be in the same situation I am in now, except I would be in more debt, with less free time.
And then I realized that what I actually want to do is write. And writing and graduate school, even in a creative writing program, are not the same thing. In order to write I need free time and as few obligations as possible. Going to grad school without funding does not give me either of those things, and in fact, it takes me farther away from them--not only immediately, but in the future, when I'm weighed down by debt.
The real issue at stake is that I have, simply, not been writing. I have been expending my energy on extra projects at work, and on my friends and their crises, and the way that I choose to use my free time is the real limitation on my writing--not what city I live in, or whether I'm going to school or not.
So be careful, when you are choosing your next step, that you know exactly what you want, and what it looks like. If you choose to apply to grad schools in December instead of working on your WIP, you are making grad school your number one priority--and grad school is not the same as writing.
And if you choose to put off your goals until you get a break from your project at work, or until your boyfriend recovers from surgery, or until you make a certain amount of money, you will never achieve your goals, because you have made them secondary to other parts of your life. If you want something, bend everything in your life around it--or else it will be bent around something else.