Writing Short Stories for Grad School

I’m beginning to suspect that I’ll end up sending off just a section of The Neverland Wars for my grad school applications, or something I’ve already written. I can’t help but feel that I ought to have something that was drafted and revised in the past three years though. Time flies, and I’m not sure that The Neverland Wars adequately reflects the full of my *literary* talent. I love it to death, but I feel a little uncomfortable sending off a section of a fantasy young adult novel. Somewhere in my English Literature degree, that just sits wrong with me. It seems too pulpy.

Maybe I’m over-thinking this though. Maybe that’s the piece that has seen the most work, and the application reviewers won’t let all the whimsy and silliness get in the way of judging how serious I am about writing. It’s not like I’m just throwing together new short stories at the last minute, but I have to wonder whether it will be possible for me to produce my best work while the thought in the back of my mind is I really want to get into this fully funded program

I work well under pressure. Exhibit A: NaNoWriMo. My best stories always come out of that frenzied month, even if it does take months of revising to get them presentable and polished. I have months. Even if I don’t use these for grad school applications though, I still need new short stories that I can feel good about putting into residency applications and applying to literary magazines with. I would like more publication credentials, and something to do while I slowly plug along with dear ol’ Neverland Wars.

I think I need to radically adjust my goals for Camp NaNoWriMo though. The wonderful people I sold my short story to this week have expressed an interest in seeing more from me in that vein, and I think I better write what I get paid to write instead of what might get me into grad school and eat another two years of my life.

Everyone keeps telling me I don’t need an MFA to be a writer, like they think I don’t know that. I just don’t think getting an MFA would hurt, and it would open up a few doors in case the writing thing didn’t work out as well as I wanted it to. Even if all I ever did with my life was network, publish a couple of books I couldn’t support myself with and went into teaching, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. For once in my life I’m looking at my Plan B options and it is FREAKING EVERYONE OUT. Nobody is used to me looking for Plan B. I’m Audrey, the writer. Of course I’m going to be a writer. Stop this silliness about teaching or not being able to support myself on writing alone.

It’s hard to make sense of which options I should be pursuing, which chances I should be taking, and which open doors I should be walking through when they are all there, all open, all abundant. How do you make arbitrary decisions about what’s best for your future when the future is, as always, an enigma? Maybe I should just hush up, writing just one or two short stories, and turn my attention back to my current projects. I’d rather skip to the part where I make a living as a writer than trudge through grad school anyways.

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