Monday, September 10, 2007

an opt for homeownership

So in February 2006, I was accepted into a graduate school program for a MFA, in creative fiction--my only avenue--as writing poetry is mere therapy regarding death and the dead. Yep, I saved the letter because I am still so proud of myself. I have always been curious as to which of my pieces secured the deal: one of my two short stories OR the excerpt from my book titled Bottom Rail. Shawna was generous enough with her time to critique the novel excerpt long before I submitted it with grad school apps. It came back to me with a lot of "wcs" and some question marks. Thanks Shawna. Overall, I have still waited to feel regret in turning down this great offer. What did I choose instead...could there be anything to keep me from it...yes, homeownership and ... love. Love can be mobile, but unless you live in a trailer or mobile home, moving an entire house is impossible, I suppose. It just wasn't feasible. Sounds a little spazzy, right? It should.

Dear Renee Osborne:

Having just read the writing samples of all our MFA applicants, I couldn't wait to tell you how impressed I am by your writing and how enthusiastic I feel about having you as a student.

You will shortly be receiving our formal offer of acceptance, but I also wanted to let you know immediately that your writing sample puts you in the small top bracket of serious contenders for the Dickey Fellowship in Fiction. (The award will be decided by further committee meetings and votes.)

Our MFA program offers a mixture of rigorous mentoring and fun, with lively dynamics in class, a student-run literary magazine, regular venues for poetry and fiction readings by students in pub and bistro settings, and visits and advice from major writers and from my own New York literary agent.

We have a very beautiful campus at the University of South Carolina, with a core of graceful antebellum buildings and spreading live-oaks around a central park (the "horseshoe") in a city with the usual advantages of a vibrant university town: restaurants, night clubs, theater, concerts. And in addition, we are only a two-hour drive in one direction to the fabulous city of Charleston and the beautiful Carolina coast, and a two-hour drive to the mountains in the other direction.

I'm excited by your writing. I hope you'll be excited about coming here.
Janette Turner Hospital
Director of MFA Fiction

Janette Turner Hospital
Carolina Distinguished Professor
Department of English
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208
Ph: (803) 777 4203
Fax: (803) 777 9064

and then

Dear Ms. Osborne,

A letter from me will be arriving in the mail soon offering admission to our MFA program and Graduate Assistantships for three years of study in the Department of English.

First, let me congratulate you on getting the attention of such keen readers as Janette Hospital and Elise Blackwell. They do not give praise unless they absolutely mean it. I do hope that you come to South Carolina. We have a fine and growing MFA program, and I am sure that you will have fruitful interactions with the rest of the English department and the university at large.

We are offering a Graduate Instructional Assistantship to you for your first year of study that involves limited teaching or tutorial service and pays $6,000 for the academic year. Given adequate academic progress, we will offer Graduate Teaching Assistantships to you for your second and third years in the MFA program; they will pay at least $12,000 each academic year. Also, during each of your three years of study you will receive 1) the in-state tuition rate (next year in-state tuition will be $385 per credit hour) and, more importantly, 2) asubstantial abatement of your actual tuition costs figured at that rate. Indeed, we will be able to pay all or nearly all of your tuition on up to 18 credit hours for the first year (18 hours is the normal course load for the first year; 15 and 12 hours are the normal loads for the second and third years). We have every intention of covering all or nearly all of your tuition for your second and third years as well.

Please contact me if you have any questions about finances or other things having to do with the English department in general.

With best wishes.


Andrew Shifflett
Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of English and Comparative
Department of English
1620 College Street
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: 803-777-5063

and finally...i hit send

Dear Professors:

I apologize for taking so much time accepting your offer as graduate student at U. South Carolina. At this time I must decline due to important, personal reasons: I purchased a home at the end of last year, not anticipating acceptance to any graduate program, and I am in a committed relationship. I do want to inform you however that your university was my top choice and was the most attractive----geared towards my goal and vision as a writer. I hope the student who takes my spot does the program well and sets it nicely on the best writing program plateau. If you have any questions for me, please do not hesitate to contact me. Should I have less commitments in the future and the freedom to relocate, I will apply again.

Thank you for consideration and the best offer I will ever receive.

Evy'an Renee Osborne

Love as abstract of the word it is has proven to be fine, homeownership is ok, even as we build and repair stuff---we protect our little haven of privacy. However, I continue to await the moment of regret, but so far, it has felt simple, just as simple as cutting those dreads.

1 comment:

Spring said...

What wonderful letters, and impressive...however, I am quite certain their offer is not the best you will ever receive. There will be many more to come.