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Winning is for losers.

Your application for admission…has been given careful consideration…. Unfortunately, you were not selected for admission to the graduate program…

Way back when I worked for a bank, I won $100. Every month two employees’ names were chosen at random. If those employees had the bank bumper sticker on their car, they each got $50. If one of those employees chosen didn’t have the bumper sticker, the other employee got that $50. and if neither had the bumper sticker, the money stayed at the bank.

There were hundreds of employees.

Employees from other branches called to congratulate me. The second name pulled from the hat belonged to a bank manager everyone hated. Everyone was pleased he didn’t have the bumper sticker on his car. I was pleased because he’d yelled at me just a few days before.

Sometimes you win for the most random reason. And sometimes there is real competition. The MFA program accepts only 10 or 12 applicants a year. My GPA is old and my GRE score is new but neither sparkle in the light of an English Department. My writing I like best didn’t match the criteria, so I sent what I could. Someone else obviously sent better. Since I can’t relocate, that is the end of that.

But let’s not focus on the losing. What about the winning? What have you won–a blue ribbon at the fair, a young lover’s heart, an impossible gamble? What is it right now that you’d like to win?

8 thoughts on “Winning is for losers.

  1. I won my family back after a suicidal psychotic break. They were gone and out of the house and talking to attorneys. I won them back with my perseverance and commitment to doing the right thing right. ‘Twas my greatest, grandest, toughest, most heart-breaking achievement.

    There is life after rejection. Good strong beautiful life. I’m guessing that you are feeling rather battered by rejections from agents and the MFA program right now and my heart goes out to you. But I encourage you to keep reaching. You have achieved so much in the last year that your bravery blows my mind. Keep on keeping on, Marta. I truly believe the best is yet to come for you. All of your Amazingness is bound and determined to come back to you. I’ve seen glimpses of it and I’m sure.

    Maybe I should turn that into a bumper sticker and send it to you. Your Amazingness is bound and determined to come back to you.

  2. I’m so sorry about your MFA. I know the only words that would make it better are words that I can’t tell you. I can say this however – there are moments in life when things feel like setbacks. It feels like a dream was broken or a goal unattained. Those moments are often simply detours to things of wonder and joy that we would have missed had we remained on our original course. There is a reason you didn’t get into the course this time. Maybe someone you will meet in a later course should you choose to apply again, perhaps you’ll get an agent this year and decide you don’t want to pursue an MFA anymore – I don’t know. But I do know there is reason you’ve been redirected. It’s not the end of the world, but a new beginning. Don’t lose hope!

  3. I must echo Sophie and Fal’s condolences on your rejection.

    Somehow I got the idea I’m unlucky, but looking back, I have won a few things. A couple of school awards–1st place in both the science fair and an anti-drug t-shirt design–I always assumed were awarded me out of pity. My teachers knew I was dirt poor and shunned by the masses. Now I think it was my creativity which won the prizes, the obvious hard work I put into them. But you know what? I still have that, “If I won a contest/got an agent/sold a book, it can’t be because of my hard work. He/she/it must be a crappy judge/agent/publisher.” Crazy, huh? I’m going to stop that right now.

    Some other things I’ve won: $100 at the Indian casino down the street, a book in a library drawing, 1st honorable mention in a writing contest, a handmade book from you. I feel luckier now.

  4. I’m sorry Marta. Rejection is no fun, even if we convince ourselves we’re used to it. I know from whence I speak on many levels; rejection just stinks. I’ll say a prayer for you and please trust yourself. You’re a talented writer with a lot of things to offer the world of fiction. The right agent, the right opportunity, will come if you persevere. Remember what you said to me on my blog about my job search; so it is with you and your search. This opportunity may not be the right one, but it will come and you will be wonderful for it.

    I’ve not won anything, but I loved Sophie’s story. I really did, it was full of hope and joy and so much good, promising things.

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