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Residency Rejection

Jac Jemc

I was not chosen as one of four writers-in-residence for the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando. This seems acceptable. Their response was kind and complimentary, if not specific, so I don't know if it's just a generous form rejection, but either way, I liked reading it. 

Recently, a slew of people have expressed supportive jealousy for the residencies I've been going on. I agree I am in a privileged position to be able to take this time and actually attend the residencies these past few months and to economically secure enough to pay the application fees that accompany many of them (I've spent close to $700 by my estimates and this has forced some thriftiness in other areas of my life, but the residencies I've gone on have been almost entirely fully funded), but the way I've come by these residencies has not been without quite a bit of effort. I applied to A LOT of residencies this year. To paint a really realistic picture of how many I've applied for and how those results break down, here are the numbers:

Accepted: 5 (14%)

Accepted, but not given enough funding to attend: 3 (9%)

Waitlisted: 7 (20%)

Declined: 16 (46%)

Still waiting to hear back: 4 (11%)

Total Applied: 35

As always, I'm embarrassed by how high the percentage is for how many have declined my applications, but it's reality. I'm not interested in convincing you I'm fancier than I am. I'm not sure what can be gathered from these numbers--if my results are a lot higher or lower than average, what the results would be if I made my application stronger--but I do feel ultimately satisfied with the results. Because of some other life events, I'm only attending 3 of the 5 I was accepted to this year, but one organization allowed me to delay my acceptance until next summer, so I've got one lined up for next year, which might actually be a lovelier result than attending all 4 this year? All sorts of anecdotal evidence points to the idea that applying more than once to a particular residency improves your chances of being accepted, and I'm happy there are lots of other residencies to explore in the future. If those rejections were good for nothing else, it was lovely to research all of these places and dream about attending. For now, 91% of the applications are a dream deferred.

P.S. I just want to add a note that this is NOT a typical representation of my residency application habits. Some years I've applied for none and sometimes I apply for 2-3 and am rejected from all of them and feel heartbroken. These numbers are representative of an application cycle for which I had saved up for years to take time off and focus on writing for a few months, and I wanted residencies to be a significant part of that experience. Just FYI, so you don't think I'm applying for 35 every year. But these numbers is helpful in thinking about how many I should apply for if I want to get ONE residency in a future year, assuming my percentages stay about the same.

P.P.S. Monster shout-out to the three wonderful people who wrote me recommendation letters and sent those puppies off whenever an application wouldn't allow an interfolio upload.