One of the things I really wanted to do was to write some compelling pieces about female sci-fi authors. And oh my God, have we had some prolific feminine voices in the genre: Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, and Octavia Butler – to name just a few! These are writers I grew up reading, some of my favorites that helped me to mesh together a genre that both intrigues me and makes me feel like I can really make a mark in the literary field. They’re the reason I ever wanted to start writing in the first place. One thing has led to another – and I’ll explain that in a moment, and I haven’t gotten to these pieces – yet. But I do plan to, in the very near future. In fact, I have a short break coming up that’ll be begging for some writing, so stay tuned.
Now, to get back on point, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never hidden my hopes of, one day, joining this list of authors, even if it were just as a footnote. I would be so thrilled to count myself among these truly talented women. And, I also know a degree doesn’t make an author. I know this like I know breathing is necessary to life. But – and there is always a “but” in my world – while my brain understands this, there is still a small, angry, bitter voice, hiding down in the dark, damp corners of my head, continually feeding me the idea that I am not a strong enough writer. That my characters are weak, or my plots are too thin. That I’m really not “good enough.” If I knew how to smother that voice, I’d already have my pillow in hand but, alas, it still shouts out often enough that I find myself not trusting my own voice, and writing only in fits and spurts.
In an attempt to counter that personal failing, I took some classes and finished a degree I’d started nearly twenty years ago. However, as challenging as these classes were, they weren’t so advanced that they were able to appease my inner-critic, or silence that festering little gremlin. No, this was just your basic BA. Not an MA, not an MFA…something to be proud of, sure, but still: not enough.
So, I pushed it just a bit further. What the hell, I thought, the worst they can do is say “no.” And then that festering little gremlin can give herself a congratulatory pat on the back and an indulgent grin, and I can move on with my life, content in my perfectly acceptable, normal career of writing web copy and health care marketing pieces. So I sent off my personal statement and two pieces of writing – not my best work, but not my worst either. They were what I considered mediocre. I’m still not convinced those mediocre pieces being mailed to the school wasn’t an attempt by the festering little gremlin to sabotage my application from the jump.
And then I got the letter.
I won one of sixteen spots for the June Cohort. I will be going to school for my MFA. NOT my MA, my god damned MFA. The authors on staff at the school think my work is good enough and shows promise. The professors think my work is good enough and shows promise. Me? I’m still on the fence – because I’m a self-deprecating little trollop that thinks everything she writes is “the suck.” But, right now? What I think comes second to what the pros think. And THEY think: Good enough. And, bonus: that festering little gremlin has gone silent. For now.
Here’s hoping that letter is just the “pillow” I needed to smother that bitch.