Oct 22, 2013

Letters of Intent

I'm applying for grad school right now. It's a little stressful, but exciting at the same time. I'm hoping that in the next couple of months everything comes together, I do well on the GRE, and I have everything turned in by the deadline. The thing I'm not looking forward to writing is my letter of intent. I'm just not good talking about myself in a professional way (I really have no idea what that says about me . . .), so I thought I would write what I wish I could say here on my blog to maybe get it out of my system, and then I can write a professional letter to send to the University.

Dear Admissions Board,
Yo, I like to write, let me into your program.

Okay, okay, that's probably not the best way to phrase it, even for this kind of thing.

Dear Admissions Board, 
I love stories. I love stories told in the form of art, music, movies, theatre, and dance, but mostly, I love stories told by the written word.  
From a very young age, I started creating stories in my head. At first I used books and stories that I already knew, and I would insert myself into them as a character. As I got older, I started writing things down: character bios, lineage, even a few sentences. I started creating my own little stories, spending Sunday afternoons writing them down in notebooks, on the computer, or on loose pages of notebook paper. Some of these stories I submitted to my elementary school's "Reflections" contests, and then later to my high school's literary magazine, Tabula Rasa, where I was also the prose editor my senior year. 
Sometimes I would forget how good writing would make me feel, until I would stay up late at night writing down my ideas, or pieces of stories. Once I got to university, I became an English major because I wanted to learn about more stories. And I did! Diverse stories that I never thought of reading before. I started deciding for myself what I liked about different types of story telling, and I branched out in how I read. Even when my schoolwork became overwhelming, I always made time for personal reading, because, like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, "until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." Stories are like breathing to me--an essential part of my life that I take for granted until they are not there anymore. 
While at university, I took two creative writing classes. The way these classes made me think about creating stories and characters, it was an eye-opening experience for me. And being able to get honest feedback, not just from a professor, but from my peers, that was something I had never experienced before. In my "Writing for Children and Adolescents" class, I heard from published authors who had written the kind of books I would like to write, to the audience I want to reach. I learned by trial and error, so different from the lecture and test routine I was used to. It was inspiring and challenging. It was hard.  
This is why I want to be accepted to your program. I want to learn even more how to tell the stories that are in my head, and to be able to grow stronger and more confident in my writing. In the three years I have been away from school, I have felt the lack of the learning environment in my life. I had been searching for knowledge through other means, which is satisfying in itself, but I have felt the desire to be back among my peers, sharing the learning experience with them. In my work as an editorial intern, and a part time worker, I have learned about telling different kinds of stories, and how to make them better. As I aspire to become an editor, I think it is important to know how writing works, to experience the kind of criticism that someday I may be giving. The most exciting thing about your program is that you encourage your MFA students to write the things they want to be writing. I want to make my career in young adult fiction, and learning to write it will help me in my career goals. 
Thank you for your consideration of me to the Creative Writing MFA. I hope that you can understand my passion for stories, and that I plan to bring that passion with me to your university.  

That's better than the first, but still not what I think the admissions board is looking for. Guess I'll keep trying until I get it down pat.


  1. I like it actually. With a little fine-tuning and maybe a paragraph about your employment and education background, I think it could work.

  2. Ditto to Mandy and Mikelene
    Give employment specifics and let'r rip