Well, God has thrown a wrench in things.
When I got home from the AML Annual Meeting, I found a slim envelope waiting for me from the BYU Graduate Studies Department. I knew there was trouble as soon as I saw it—long experience has taught me that slim envelopes mean rejection.
And I was right. BYU is very sorry to inform me that I have not been selected to enter the Creative Writing MFA program. However, I have been put on the alternate list.
I was, well, perplexed.
First, I’ll admit it. I thought I was a pretty strong candidate. I have good GRE scores, strong (I assume) letters of recommendation, a portfolio consisting of almost 100% previously-published stuff. Where’s the problem? Yeah, there’s room for improvement, but that’s what school is FOR, right? Maybe it’s my undergrad degree, which is in Humanities, not English. But I really hadn’t thought that would be a problem, since I have the required pre-requisite classes.
But second, and MUCH MORE IMPORTANT: I was very stunned because I have felt all along nothing but peace about this decision. I really have felt that God was good with this and that all would be well. Even now I don’t feel a sense of panic or despair because that feeling is still there. I don’t know if it just means that I’ll still make it in from the alternate list or if it means that God has something else for me interesting to do next year. But it’s weird to have felt so settled and now not know why.
I can’t deny that God has always led me through in the best possible way. When I couldn’t conceive as soon as I wanted to, when we didn’t go to the medical school we had hoped for, through all sorts of moves and job changes—things have always, in retrospect, worked out for the best, even (and perhaps especially) when it has been a surprise and what seemed a disappointment. I still have absolute faith that all will be well for me this fall.
Still, I can’t help wondering what I’ll do with myself if I don’t get in. I had been sort of using this as my solace for winter, a season that is very hard for me. “Just get through this winter,” I tell myself. “Next winter will fly because you’ll be so busy in classes.”
Granted I still have another application that I haven’t heard about, but that one has always been a long shot. The U, from what I can tell, has a reputation of being much more difficult to get into than the Y, especially if you have BYU on your application as your undergrad school. It’s ironic that the U doesn’t like BYU undergrads—and neither does the Y (or, rather, I’ve heard that publication in LDS-oriented magazines caries no weight, and maybe even works against you, in the BYU selection process). Someone who likes to write in a non-critical way about Mormon life can claim a disadvantage at both schools.
So there you have it.
Edited to add: Well, when I wrote all this it was true. And it still is true. But I can't say I haven't had my moments of fear and tears. What if this is it? What if it is really it? What if I never get in? This is something I never had supposed. All my young motherhood life I have been looking forward to returning to school. I can't stand the thought of never, never going back. Of course, I'll try again. But meanwhile, what will I do with myself? I can't beleive how much of my life this feeling that I'd get back to school would be. When my manuscripts get rejected and I wonder if I'll ever get a book published, I think, "It doesn't matter that much; I'm going to school." When I don't feel like I'm writing as well as I want to be, I think, "Well, I'll learn how to make this better in school."
What would I do without that? I don't want to find out.