Every rejection letter starts something like this: ”Dear Ms. Jones, I am sorry to tell you that we are unable to offer you a fellowship/residency/admissions/whatever.” Then there is a statement like this, “We received a GAZILLION submissions from qualified applicants but we were only able to award one-point-five fellowships/residencies/admissions/whatever.” I sometimes read that as– Dear Ms. Jones, we don’t like you and or your work.
But after serving on a number of committees that award fellowships/residencies/admissions/whatever, I can tell you from the inside that this is actually true. I have never sat on a grant panel where there haven’t been very good applications that had to be turned down. This is mostly because of money. Arts funding is at an all time low, and the economy is bad. So what does this mean? It means that artists who used to make enough money from doing art– because they are accomplished and well known– are now applying for more grants and contests to get by, to get published. It’s really shocking, how I see pretty big names on press releases for grants, etc that used to be unofficially earmarked for emerging writers.
You are not the only one feeling discouraged right about now. So I just wanted to urge you not to be so sad, or at least not to be so sad that you give up. Your application was good. I read it, helped you proof it. So I know it was good. And trust me, I wrote you a hell of a letter of recommendation You deserved the opportunity and there was probably someone at the table that wanted to give it to you. It’s just that times are hard. There is less to go around right now. But you are still growing and learning and creating. Keep at it. Try again next year. It’s just a matter of time. I promise.