Where You Been, Man?

Calvin Writing

Okay, so, yeah, I haven’t posted in like … um … forever? I’ve had my hands full. I’ve been working on my latest novel, Story of Meabh, and I’m in the midst of applying to grad school to get my MFA in Creative Writing. Yeah, I know … go figure. What chances has a guy got who’s over 50, without connections, long-term unemployed and impoverished, college-educated, Caucasian, two steps left of Progressive, and about 99.9% male? (You have to allow that 0.1% as margin-for-error … and for the sugar I put in my coffee.)

I’m so anxious, I’m coming out of my skin. Oh, baby, daddy wants this. It’s time to take off the kid gloves and go professional. Time to get serious. Take the next step to getting better. I want to teach writing and talk writing and help other writers to improve. I want my books read, my scotch straight, and my refrigerator so full it may give birth.

I’m taking space. I’m taking time. So, hush now, and let me write.

I can’t afford the GRE (the waivers are only for current undergraduates through the financial aid office wherever they are attending), and I can’t afford programs that aren’t fully funded. Without fee waivers for the applications, I cannot apply. Without tuition waivers and a full fellowship for room & board and basic living expenses, this dream is another Quixotic gallop at a windmill. But this old knight has no choice. The dragon must be slain.

I’m competing with thousands for a handful of seats where winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel once sat. I’d be a fool if I was not intimidated.

But I can do this. Yes, I can. I know I can. I know I must.

I’m in the midst of writing the application essays. Of course, the two programs I’m applying to don’t ask for the same thing. One wants three essays, and the other wants one. Between a dictionary, a linguist, a Babble translator, the Rosetta Stone, and whatever I can dredge up on the web, I’m still trying to figure what goes into a Statement of Purpose and what the hell the difference is between a “Personal History” and an “Autobiographical Statement”. Seriously, they are two different things. Each has its own purpose, and yet some of the text may overlap.

Tell us all about yourself, give us a clear picture, tell us why you want this degree, why you want it here, and why we should let you go for it. Be different than anyone else applying, be terrific, and while you’re at it, don’t sound like a self-absorbed prick.


And at the same time, I’m flailing to keep my head above the water and to ward the sharks away. Why does that hammerhead remind me of my father? Why does he keep pulling me under? Do we need a bigger boat? Hell, I’d settle for a dinghy. Who tied this anchor to my waist?

So that’s what I’m up to. Writing. Writing and applying. And paddling in the open waters.

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