7/7 Challenge and Update on Grad Schools

Back in December and January, I went a little crazy and applied to five graduate schools for programs in creative writing, fully expecting not to get into any of them. But only a day after submitting my last application, I heard back from University of Portsmouth with an offer. This was followed by an offer from Nottingham Trent University and Chatham University.

I am still pretty blown away. I’m not affecting false modesty when I say I honestly don’t believe my writing is anything special. I’m proud of my ideas and characters, but I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty normal, unremarkable writer. I think this comes from growing up in my teen years with some writers who had extremely unique, distinct voices, while my writing has almost always been pretty sparse, straightforward and simple. So when my prof and I talked about the probability I wouldn’t get in anywhere, I fully expected that to happen.

Well, this week I had a phone interview with a school which has long been a dream of mine: Bath Spa University. I’ve loved Bath, England, ever since I entered the city on my 18th birthday with my mentor, Nicole Pool. When I found out they had a Writing for Young People MA program, I almost had a heart attack. But I’ve known it’d be a long shot.

So when I was getting ready for the phone interview, I was chewing my lip, staring at the phone, distracting myself with work and joking around, drinking tea like it was a stiff Scotch… You can ask my supervisors and coworkers, who came to prep talk me or offer distraction every few minutes (and later tiptoed around eyeing me anxiously while I talked on the phone).

Finally the call came. The admissions counselor was absolutely lovely. I found myself accidentally mimicking her accent at one point and had to watch myself. I was really nervous, but I’d made some notes and prepared well. Whenever I started to rush through an answer, I tried to stop, collect my thoughts, and speak clearly. She talked a bit about what she’d found impressive in the portfolio, and I just sat there gaping, thinking to myself, “Someone with a British accent just said my writing was impressive. This is all I have ever wanted in my life.

I couldn’t stop grinning when she was talking about the program there. It’s like a dream. I could volunteer with the Children’s Literary Festival, or get a little teaching experience by doing workshops with kids… It just sounds amazing.

I should hear back from Bath Spa in the coming week to let me know if I have an offer or not. They’re extremely selective, which is exciting and intimidating. Then I’ll have to make my decision.

Right now it’s really Chatham vs. Bath Spa. I feel like, in many ways, Chatham is the logical choice. The two year program would set me up to teach at a college level, if that’s what I want to do someday, and the fellowships will offer a lot of experience. A lot of my professors have really encouraged me toward Chatham. But, if I were to be accepted to Bath Spa, it would be a fantastic program in a part of the world I love. I’d also have so many opportunities for exposure to travel, landscape, and people–which is what I want to work on in my writing: the depth and breadth of the world.

At this point, it’s out of my hands. If I don’t get into Bath Spa, I’ll know God’s pointing me to Chatham. And if I do get into Bath Spa… Well, maybe my time in England isn’t quite over yet.

And now, for a change of pace:

Amanda McCrina (author of His Own Good Sword, an excellent Roman-esque fantasy) tagged me in the 7/7 Challenge, which means I’m supposed to post the first seven lines from page seven of Blessings. (I’m also supposed to tag seven authors, but I don’t know many blogging authors that well, so… apparently I need to work on my networking!)

In this section, Melle is waiting to enter the court to plead for her father’s life. A kid has just warded her off (basically giving her the finger in terms of nice-gestures-toward-other-people) and she’s a little annoyed. The relief on the gate depicts the Fair War. These aren’t my most favorite seven lines in the world… and the longer I look at them the more I want to change them up! But enjoy!

Melle clenched her jaw, turning her eyes back to the gate. The unblessed were all but soulless, according to the blessed. The ward was an empty gesture, meant to keep the taint of unblessedness away.

Counting the panels in the relief did a little to calm Melle’s temper. Some of the iron soldiers’ heads had been dented as if hit by a club, perhaps by a dissatisfied taxpayer. As she watched, the small door in the gate opened.

A guard stepped through, counted off ten people, reaching Melle as the eighth, and motioned them in.


6 thoughts on “7/7 Challenge and Update on Grad Schools

  1. Many congratulations, and good luck! Fingers crossed that you’ll get the offer from Bath Spa. 🙂

    Lovely snippet as well! Dark and intriguing; I love how it ends right on a suspenseful note, too. I want to know what happens next!

  2. I, too, want to know what happens next – and also with your university placement! But it’s a very intriguing snippet. I’m here from Amanda’s blog; I haven’t visited before, but i certainly will in future.

  3. Alyssa, may I just say I am eagerly awaiting the day I can buy your first book! Your writing is lovely and everytime I check back it has grown and changed. All the best as you choose your graduate school! I do keep you in my prayers – Areth Lovejoy

    P.S. I miss having you on LJ since I so frequently forget to check this blog!

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