This year I tried out for Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp. The plan was for me to go, learn, and then have something snazzy to put on my cover letters. "I graduated from Literary Boot Camp." Additionally, graduates get a boost out of the slush pile of IGMS. Some people have launched their careers like this, and I figured my time has come.
I hemmed and hawed over what one page excerpt to send them, and I decided to send my flagship work. This is the one short story that I've edited and had critiqued more than any other story. It has exciting characters, tight dialouge, and a cool sci-fi backdrop. I studied the first page as I put it into the envelope. There was no way they'd reject me.
Well, let me tell you what happened ... I've never had anyone tell me "no" for the opportunity to shell out close to a thousand bucks. :)
You see, Card doesn't necessarily pick the top 14 writers who apply. Rather he picks the 14 that he deems would benefit the most from the class. Here's an excerpt from the rejection email (which is clearly a form-letter):
Mr. Card asked me to make it clear, however, that not being accepted did not mean that your writing was judged “not good.” His decision was based solely on whether he felt that the writer could gain from and contribute to the type of workshop he runs. There were, as always, talented writers who were not accepted this year.What this doesn't tell me is what group I fall into. Was my story so sucky that I had no chance? Or was my story just too awesome?
First off, let me say that I understand the form-letter rejection. They can't go around telling this person, "You suck" and another person, "You're too good for us." That could lead to hard feelings and issues. Rather, the response I got was professional and appropriate.
But still, I wish I could know. If my excerpt was good and blew their socks off, does that mean I can put "Too good for Boot Camp" on my cover letters? No? Dang!
If my excerpt was so crappy, even after all that work and editing and receiving critiques, then perhaps I just don't have the stuff. If I could know this, then I'd happily give up this pipe dream and go play more Star Trek Online.
One consolation is that the rejection letter didn't sting for very long--perhaps an hour or so. I think not having to pay all that money had something to do with it. :)
Anyway, congratulations to the 14 who made it into the Camp. You're one step closer to your dreams, and it will certainly be an awesome experience.
I'll still be there for the two-day Uncle Orson's Writing Class. So, if you're there in June, maybe I'll see you there.