My cap and gown arrived in the mail yesterday.
This is actually happening, isn’t it? My educational journey is drawing to a close. I’m in the home stretch, the final portfolio development classes, and in just 66 days, it’ll be time to walk across the stage, shake some hands, and pose for a picture with my tassel on the other side of my cap.
With less than nine weeks away until graduation, I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing over my previous two years of college.
The big question that is always on my mind – and on the tip of the tongues of my friends who can’t understand why I’d go through a Bachelors degree a second time – is:
Why did I sign up? Why writing and why now?
It’s been a whirlwind of learning, of stress, and of intense emotions. I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. This is my second time in a Bachelors degree and I can honestly say that the second experience has been far more prolific and life-changing than the first. Perhaps an 18 y/o can’t really absorb and take in as much as a wizened 28 y/o… or maybe it just wasn’t the right subject the first time around. Either way, going back to school in March 2011 for my Bachelors in Creative Writing at Full Sail University was the best decision I have made in many years.
In my class last month, we were asked to answer five very simple questions so that the professor could better gauge our career goals and help cater his project management class to our needs. I’m sure most of my classmates rushed through it, a menial task in many ways, but I found myself lingering on the questions and spending a substantial amount of time pondering my answers. I stumbled across the document this afternoon while reorganizing my school folder on my desktop [I’m OCD about keeping EVERYTHING from class] and decided it wouldn’t hurt to share my thoughts with the world.
Here’s the assignment, edited only slightly for privacy purposes –
1. Why did you pursue a degree in creative writing?
At first glance, this seems like a very simple question. Most people would answer, “because I love to write,” or “it’s my passion, so I just knew it was right,” as they’ve likely known for a long time that their purpose in life was to put their thoughts down in words. In my case, I didn’t truly discover my love for the craft until after I started the program. I knew, going in, that I enjoyed writing and that I had a propensity for it, but I didn’t realize how much writing would engulf my life and what it would ultimately mean for me until I had already started.
To be honest with myself, I started the program because I wanted to prove to myself that I was not only capable of being creative, but that I could excel at it. I’ve spent more than a decade of my life balancing insecurities and questioning my capabilities in almost every capacity – I wanted to do the BFA program to gain confidence in myself. To know that I’ve come this far academically, despite my own indiscretions and failures personally, provides me with the substance I never knew I was lacking.
I pursued the program initially as a challenge to myself. I maintain my presence in the program as a reward, as an unearned and unwarranted courtesy to myself. I consider my pursuit of the program as a continued act of generosity to myself – an indulgence that I don’t necessarily deserve. Fortunately, I’m too selfish to give it up any time soon and I’m just a few months away from the commencement of my profligacy, anyhow.
2. What would you consider to be the ideal job?
Again, I’m going to provide an unorthodox answer to a straightforward question. I would consider my ideal job to the one I hold currently, as it affords me the salary to live very comfortably, the luxury to afford my education, and the freedom outside of the office to explore my writing without stress or fear of maintenance of my property. I plan to maintain my current job unless my success in the writing industry necessitates me leaving it.
2A. What would you consider to be a realistic job in your field?
Considering my desire to maintain my current employment, a realistic job in my field would be the same type of work I’ve already begun picking up over the last few months: freelance content writing. I plan to continue to market myself as a content writer to small companies for website content development and social media representation. Beyond that, I also plan to query my novel, The Revenge of Inali, to traditional publishers and I’m working on a sequel presently.
2B. Do you think starting at the bottom, or entry level, at a position in your field of study is below you?
There is no such thing as a “bottom” when you’re pursuing what you love. If writing is truly the breadth of your soul, then you’ll find enjoyment in the practice of it, despite the redundancy or potential monotony of an entry-level position, such as a script reader or editor.
As Mark Twain has said in the past, “You should write for free until someone offers to pay you.” Most of us in the program have been writing for free for the duration of the program, seeking publication in some journals and e-magazines, and we’ve often paid to have our work considered for contests. If we’re willing to give away our work – or PAY to have someone judge it – how could we find it “below us” to get paid for something even closely resembling writing? It seems oxymoronic.
3. Would you relocate for a job that utilizes your Full Sail education?
I do not plan to, as I hope to maintain my full-time employment in my present position. Of course, if my success as a novelist affords me the luxury of leaving my current career path, I would be open to following the pathways it opens to other states or even countries.
4. What is your five-year plan after graduation?
I plan to continue writing daily, at least two or three hours per day, and submit work monthly to journals and magazines for continued publications. I hope to have my first novel queried by November of 2013 and I plan to send it out to at least thirty different publication houses for consideration. I’ve already begun work on a second novel and I’d like to see myself continue to produce a new novel every 18-24 months past this point. Outside of these goals, I do not have a complex five-year plan other than to KEEP WRITING.
Optimistic for a productive, happy, and ridiculously fast nine weeks,
~ Victoria Elizabeth