6 Steps to Getting Catherine to Apply to Grad School

1. Remind her how much she loves writing. And tell her often, because children and Latin and studying and even good movies can get in the way.

2. Let her know the possibilities it would open up. College professor (because yes, an MFA is a terminal degree). Literary Journal editor (because that would be a lot more engaging than book publishing). Networking (because this is the 21st century and it’s all about who you know).

3. Give her an encouraging and challenging writers’ group. Fill it with smart-thinking, intelligent, well-read people. Make sure they don’t let her get away with anything. Especially heavy-handed sentimentalism.

4. Remind her that she sifts through life with writer’s eyes. This is kind of vital. She’s a singer too, definitely, but it’s with a writer’s mind that she experiences life. Stories. It’s stories that she sings and stories that she writes.

5. Give her professors who care enough to grab coffee and chat. Even after graduation. These people will be vital to making it all feel possible.

6. And parents who think she has something worth sharing. It all started with this one.

March 1st. It came a little too quickly.

I sat staring at the screen until I realized: I could do this forever. Til I die. I would never be satisfied with this application.

So I printed them out, ten whole poems that each were a different part of me. I wrote a personal essay on why I write, why I want to get my Master of Fine Arts, and what I need to learn. I wrote a critical essay dissecting a poem that I have loved dearly since high school (and, consequently, it has come to mean many different things over the years). I ran out during break, over-nighted the hefty sucker, and went back to finish teaching. I was pleased with how easily I fit right back in; I barely thought about the fact that I COULD NOT MAKE ONE MORE CHANGE – it was all done.

Now it’s all about waiting. A few more weeks, they tell me. What if I don’t get in?

Well, there’s plenty of room for assuming I won’t. These are pretty competitive programs, and the thing about all this is yes, it is about talent and ability, but it’s a lot about luck too. Who’s reading my stuff? Will it resonate with that particular person? Cause if not, it’s in the rejection pile I go.

If I don’t get in, I’ll be fine. Probably start a Master’s in Education. Keep teaching Latin. One of the reasons I’m glad I waited a year to apply is that I feel like I’m approaching it with a little more level-headedness; I either get in or I don’t. The only control I had was in preparing the best possible material, and I always have the option of:

Try again next year.

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