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Residency Rejection and Encouragement

Jac Jemc

I was bummed to receive a rejection from Yaddo again (only my second application in about 6 years, but I was still hoping that I might have progressed enough to make it this time). I want to talk about a feeling I have that's maybe a little vain, but hopefully helpful to other people dealing with rejection regularly.

When I started this blog back in 2008, it was very much for "internet presence" and "shtick-type" purposes. I wanted some semi-regular blog content that would be easy to keep up that might cause people to take a look at the blog every once in a while. Mostly, though, I wanted a website where people could find links to my work and hear about readings and generally get some info about me. I liked the idea of a publicity website that was self-deprecating. "Come look at my successes with a side of schadenfreude/solidarity."

Seven years later I feel like I've both come pretty far in my writing trajectory and also that I'm still treading water in a lot of the same ways, and this rejection is a pretty clear example of that. I feel especially humbled by sharing this rejection, honestly a little bit embarrassed. Maybe because I had to ask two lovely people for recommendation letters for this application and I have nothing to show for their hard work? Maybe because our dear friend Social Media is so good at touting people's successes, and so I assume that everyone I know who has applied to Yaddo has gotten in and I'm still missing the mark? Maybe because I'm trying to figure out if I'd like to continue teaching, and considering job opportunities for next fall, and wondering if this transparency can hurt me in the long run, allowing people to see how much failure lies in my wake in addition to the successes my CV projects?

In any case, I'm sticking with this MO of transparency, and will continue to because it feels like a healthy, political act that breaks rules and continues to prove useful to at least a handful of people (myself included). 

After I received the unedited version of the letter above, my lovely partner disappeared for a few minutes, and returned with the scribbled copy insisting that I'd read the letter wrong. I love him for this act of generosity and humor and I laughed harder than I had in days at the HORRIBLE syntax and kindness of his gesture. 

A day later, I received an encouragement from Willapa Bay AIR, telling me was on the list of alternates for their summer residencies, so we'll see if that pans out, but in the mean time, I remain tenacious and only temporarily humiliated. It's good for the soul, I hear.