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  • Thomas Gaffney

Fear and Excitement in Pittsburgh


It's been a while since I blogged. I haven't forgotten about it, just been busy. I got accepted to my number one choice for MFA programs, Popular Fiction and Publishing at Emerson College. It came about a week ago, as I was busy working, and I seriously wanted to mute the call I was on and scream at the top of my lungs. I don't know how many applicants they get, and I don't know what their acceptance rate is, so I was sweating it. I had a few fallback options, and I had also considered reapplying to Emerson in the spring if I didn't get in for the fall, but fortunately, they took me in like some sad, stray puppy.


I'm nervous as shit—to put it bluntly, and honestly. Going back to college after all these years was a nerve-wracking experience on its own. But I quickly got over that with classes that were interesting and topics that held my attention. When my first assignment grades rolled in, I calmed down and realized this wasn't going to be too hard. But now, I have a scholarship and a minimum GPA I have to maintain. I'll also have professors looking for serious writing. A lot of my first drafts and my submitted writing at the beginning of my SNHU days were crap. And the teachers were expected that and offered feedback to make my writing less crappy. But now, in a MFA program, my first drafts will probably still be terrible but should be less terrible. I feel like I'm going to be judged a LOT harder on my writing than I was in SNHU. Although, to be fair, I did have a teacher or two who really beat me up, to get better work out of me at SNHU. And I'm eternally grateful for that.


But this is it. The point of the Popular Fiction and Publishing MFA at Emerson is to get me to write a novel that I can pitch to an agent. A novel that might get me representation. A novel that might get purchased by one of the traditional publishing houses. I can't slack. I can't half-ass it. I can't be my usual lazy self. This will be a LOT of work. Serious work. Perhaps the most work I've focused on something in my life. And I don't know if I'm fully prepared for that. I'm still trying to pass my last two classes at SNHU, and I'm getting emails every day from Emerson to make sure I'm set up and prepared for their classes and everything feels overwhelming. I hardly have time to work on my short stories for the collection I started, and when I do have time—sometimes the creativity just isn't there. I'm probably overthinking things (as I usually do), but the Impostor Syndrome is coming on STRONG. And with it, a lot of self-doubt and anxiety.


I'm sure a lot of the anxiety will go away once classes start, but the excitement of getting in has been tempered by the knowledge that I still need to graduate from SNHU. I have two classes this semester and no real interest in either one. Fortunately, my overall GPA is good enough to handle some not-excellent grades, so I only need to pass these two and then I'm done. Onto bigger and better things. I think then, I'll really be excited and able to enjoy everything. I also feel once the Emerson classes begin and I'm fully engaged, things will be much smoother, but that's a way to go.


All I can do now is pass the two classes I have going on and wait. I have plenty of ideas for novels, so I'll just need to have the best one ready to go for my MFA classes and work on what I do best—writing things for people to tell me what sucks.


Keep writing!

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