In spite of her infinite wisdom, a woman I know encouraged me to apply to grad school. It didn’t matter that I already have a Master’s degree. Or that I’ve been out of school since 2008. Or that I already have a career. She still goaded me into it.
And, in spite of my infinite wisdom, I did it. I applied to grad school. Where someone (or someones) in spite of their infinite wisdom, accepted me into the program.
There are a lot of reasons I shouldn’t have been accepted. I won’t go into them for fear the director of the program will read this and thus revoke my elite membership into this tribal group of individuals who are all exquisite and eloquent in their writing. Because even though I’m going to drop out, I’d rather leave on my own terms than be excluded on theirs.
Have you ever been excluded from anything? No? You’re all kinds of peaches and cream and perfection?
Well, I have. And let me tell you, it’s no fun. Not one iota of fun can be had from being excluded from a group you thought you belonged to.
Though, I must admit, there is a lot to be said for being excluded from a cult. True story. It happened to me once. Mind you, they didn’t say they were a cult, but I know they were. I read about the likes of them on a poster board once. It gave all the warning signs of a cult and they met them. Right down to the very last one they did.
Of course, I didn’t read about the warnings until after I’d walked away and been shunned forever.
I’d like to say it was one of those “hindsight is 20/20” kinds of things, but it wasn’t. I’d been excluded from a cult and I’m not sure you can get much more ostracized than that.
So, I’m not going to tell this grad school program that they were out of their literary minds for accepting me. Nope. Not going to do it.
I’ll simply sneak away in the dead of night. Walk away with my hoodie up over my head, the ghost of my MFA degree trailing behind me whispering “What are you doing? This was our chance. You could have been a writer….”
See how I did that? They call that dialogue. Writers do, that is. Me? I call it the whispering of my ghostlike MFA degree. That I’m not going to get because I’m going to drop out.
I know it sounds like quitting and no one likes a quitter. Not even a cult. But I can’t help it. This kind of grad school program is hard. Not in the manner that getting any other degree is hard, either. At least when I got my Master’s in Professional Counseling, I was allowed to read other people’s work and then regurgitate it for a test. And frankly, if that isn’t some kind of plagiarism, I don’t know what is.
With an MFA, you can’t do that. It’s strictly forbidden. Instead, you’re supposed to be unique and original. You’re supposed to write. And since the program flaunts the whole “write a thesis” kind of mantra, I’m assuming they mean you’re supposed to be writing more than a blog post.
Which is all I have managed to write since the program started a little over a week ago. And how the hell am I supposed to support that? With hashtags, likes, and re-tweets? Because I’m not sure that’s going to cut it.
I mean, seriously, this is an MFA program. This is where you’re supposed to become a master of the fine arts. A master. It’s right there in the title, in case you missed it.
And what exactly am I supposed to be mastering? No one has told me which chapter to read in order to get ready for the exam!
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drop out.
I’ll walk away from what could have been and leave it to the masters. Like the guy on blackboard who introduced himself by writing a fictional essay of his life. A fictional essay of his life. What did I write? A brief biography that I had to handwrite the first draft of because I was so worried about leaving something out or sounding poorly prepared. For goodness sakes, I started it with “Hi, my name is…”
That’s what third graders write! Not masters of the fine arts.
People were polite and all in their responses, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting voted off this literary island of people who have whole thesaurus’ memorized and who spend all their free time reading Tolstoy and Ayne Rand.
Meanwhile, I’m over here reading what I commonly refer to as “fluff novels” and “beach reads.” Yes, I’ve read Wally Lamb and once in high school I read King Henry the VIII. But who am I kidding? I skipped over parts of that Wally Lamb book after I’d read it twice because I found those particular parts to be a tad on the dull side. And just now? When I wrote about having read King Henry? I had to look up how to write eight in roman numerals.
I highly doubt that the others in my cohort, the real writers have ever had to do that. They’re scholars. They’re academics. And me? I’m sitting on the beach in my mind reading a romance novel. Or cozied up to my lap desk pounding out a thousand words for a blog post that may (or may not) be seen by others.
Like this one. Where I’m feeling all kinds of confliction over the fact that I tend to be the positive one, the encourager, the person who likes to empower others to go forth and do. Like great things and stuff.
Except for today. Unless you’re feeling the will to quit right along with me. Then, we could be quitting buddies. Partners in giving up. The ones who will never know what could have been because we’re too busy wallowing in our own vat of “we are less than.”
Now that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not.
So what if I introduced myself like a third grader! Big deal if I haven’t memorized a thesaurus lately or didn’t have the gumption to introduce myself using a made up story. So what if this is the hardest thing I’ve done in a while.
Even though it would still be nice to have the answers in a textbook somewhere, it seems I may have to write that blasted textbook for some other poor soul who will follow in my footsteps like the moron that I am.
“You should be a writer,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
Well, the joke’s on them. Because as soon as I find out their names, they’ll be the ugly villains in my next novel. They’ll be the ones who find themselves on the business side of a drink that’s been poisoned.
Because writing isn’t easy.
And I knew that when I was in the third grade and wrote my first story. I think it had to do with clowns or the circus. I know it made my third grade teacher smile. I did not win the school wide writing contest.
Perhaps that’s why I introduced myself like a third grader on the MFA blackboard. Perhaps I’m getting back in touch with my inner writer who tried to sprout all those years ago. Perhaps this will be the biggest accomplishment of my academic career.
Or, I’ll be a writer who still has to work for a living in spite of my infinite wisdom that once wanted to be a lawyer. Now there’s a job where you can make stuff up and seriously get paid. Like in cash and not copies of the little known magazine that published your short story for a measly three dollars.
I wonder if it’s too late to change majors.
Well, considering today is a holiday and the campus is closed in observance, I can’t change majors today. Or drop out right now.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t. It just means I won’t do it today. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day. When I get around to it.
When I do, don’t mind me. Just excuse me while I drop out.
Don’t judge me or try to talk me out of it. Or you might find yourself on the business end of a hissy fit, which will end you up as the least liked character in my next novel. Sure, not many people will read it, but when they do…they’ll be just like me…quitters who are reading on the beach.