In the spring of 2019, I made the decision to apply to graduate school to get an MFA in Creative Writing. To prepare for this endeavor, I spent my entire summer working and writing so that I could have enough money to apply to eight different schools and enough new work that I could feel confident submitting. By the time fall rolled around, I had made my decisions about which schools I was going to apply to, and I began to edit my 30-page portfolio.
[bf_image id="q5ehpj-b90848-6tlf1h"] On December 14, 2019, I hit submit on all eight applications and mailed out any necessary application materials. At this point in time I was excited because I felt like this would be a great idea for my future plans.
Then on February 14, 2020 I heard back from my very first school saying, “Dear Genessee Floressantos, We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for admission to the Fall 2020 semester for an MFA in Creative Writing.”
Because it was only the first rejection, I did not think too much about it. But from that point on, until just last month, I received that same statement seven more times.
[bf_image id="q4s6il-gd0h4-4k9fmm"] I was absolutely crushed because I thought that I had submitted strong work. One piece was a short story that dealt with the realities of being a woman and finding yourself alone at night. The other was the first four chapters of a YA genre fiction book. When I submitted my materials, I knew that submitting fiction was going to be a large gamble.
For most MFA programs, there is a large focus on writing “literary fiction.” I think that literary fiction is beautiful and that the stories told in those novels are great, but it is not something that I like to write. The piece I submitted attests to that because it was about a girl named Luz who, in those first four chapters, just wants to know why someone with a white barcode instead of a black one came down the Olympian Pipeline.
The story I submitted is something that is near and dear to my heart. It is work that I feel matters. I will never know why I got rejected exactly, but I do know one thing: I am still gonna write it.
When I began plotting out this novel, I remember feeling so giddy with excitement. Here I was writing in a genre that I loved about issues that I see today. In the back of my mind, I knew that genre fiction was not taken very seriously, especially in academia.
In my classes, I have had discussions about the fact that genre fiction is not taken seriously, but I love when we it is the topic of any of my classes. One thing that I have learned as I come close to finishing my English degree is that genre fiction really does matter.
[bf_image id="q6ql9h-74odjs-5bmbb6"] The lives that the characters in these novels live echo the lives that people in our current day and age really live. The stories of young people matter, and they deserve to see themselves represented in literature as strong enough to make a change. My short blurb that I gave about my work in progress may be very confusing, but that is okay, because one day I am going to finish this book. And when I do somehow manage to get published, that one sentence is going to make a whole lot more sense.
With or without an MFA, my dreams are still going to come true.