Looking back, I think it's because I was scared. Scared of that that horrible, empty feeling brought on by rejection letter after rejection letter. That shitty feeling of looking in at the people who get it, happy, younger people with fellowships and bright, shiny futures.
It was that scared feeling that made me write the letter of intent that I did. It was that scared feeling that made me wax philosophical about an inspiring teacher, how I wanted to write because she inspired me towards greater things.
I mean, don't get me wrong, she did inspire me, but that has absolutely dick to do with why I'm applying for a Creative Writing MFA.
See, ever since I went eight for eight on rejections last year, I have been writing furiously. I released Pen and Platen, my short story collection, on Amazon in December. I have two finished novels, Collision Course and Good Friday in the hopper awaiting my red fountain pen. I am currently leapfrogging across three projects right now: Chet Masters is Alarming, a heist satire story; Silas Starkweather Rides Again, a follow-up to a western piece in P&P; and Third, about a young girl who finds a typewriter in the ashes of a by-gone world.
All to stave off that horrible scared feeling, like I'm paddling around in open water. Yeah, P&P has moved better than 350 copies in three months, but that's mostly due to good friends and dumb luck. But mostly I'm just flinging shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's — pardon the pun — a crap way to do things. Which is why I want this MFA thing so bad.
And hey, I understand that I don't look like anything special. I'm a working-class guy with a working-class guy education. I attended a state college. Growing up my parents did their best by me, and I have known lean times but never starved, and good times that lasted just as long as they should have. I have been outside the country exactly one time, and that was to Ensenada, Mexico. My employment history is a lesson in mediocrity. I have a wife I've been married to for ten years and a five year-old son who wants to be either a scientist or a super hero when he grows up. Oh, and I'm a writer.
But that's problematic, too. On my best day, my work can hardly be described as "literary," not do I adhere to genre conventions. Well…most the time. More accurately, I just write whatever comes into my head, whether it's humor or horror or sci fi or a story about a guy who sets off smoke detectors in department stores and then robs them. I'm just a writer.
But I want to be a better one.
That's it. No university job, no doctorate. I just want to get better at what I love to do, whether in ten years I'm still spamming Amazon with eBooks or purchasing a really nice typewriter with fat royalty checks.
So there's that. It may suck, but it's about a million times more honest.