Friday, September 17

Life Outside the Ivory Tower

Posted by Shelly Holder

After a morning full of a series of depressing articles: "So You Wanna Go to Grad School?" "Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go" and "Deprogramming from the Academic Program" my motivation is low and my confusion is high. Not about grad school, per se -- I'm pretty convinced that even if I learn nothing in an MFA program (and that's highly unlikely) the two years of concentrated output is a visible benefit.  Plus, any program comes with exposure to new authors/works and networking with professors and other students. So, an MFA is a 99% likelihood. 

However, these articles tap into the approaching reality of post-grad life. What kind of job can a creative writer find? Is it truly possible to support yourself financially as a full time freelancer? Is there even freelance work for someone not interested in non-fiction/journalism? How much writing do you truly do with a 9 to 5 job? Is it possible to find a compatible lifestyle balancing writing and "reality"?

There are no answers. Google did have somewhat encouraging search results for "writing jobs"- grant writers and business writers most numerous, but from companies I didn't expect and could be more enthused about than I expected. Still, it's a scary scary world out there, and I don't deal well with uncertainty. I work better having defined steps to achieve a goal, and while finishing my undergrad and then grad school takes care of the next four-ish years, I would still like some article out there to say "Hey look! Do this, and you become qualified for 'reality'!" 

Of course, that's the wet dream of every humanities major, so this is nothing new. 

So, to counter the depression, a return back to what I know. Writing. And a little offering of humor. 

Devin Galaudet's The Creative Writer’s Bill of Rights (or The Creative Bill of Writes)

1. The artist can turn off all filters and say anything about any subject, at any time, for any reason.
2. No subject matter, no how uncomfortable or offensive to self or others, is off limits
3. No single word: expletive or other no-no should be avoided due to political correctness or fear. If the word is appropriate in the context of the writing, it should stay. *
4. Any random thought should be written down by the writer, especially when the writer’s internal voice says, you can’t say that!
5. No matter how perfect a writing is, it could be edited down further or expanded upon.
6. Sometimes a writer will have to kill his or her babies. This means some great ideas/lines/articles will have to be removed, taken out, destroyed, sacrificed or edited in order to make the writing better. It can be a painful process.
7. Making changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
8. Ignoring changes that others have suggested, after careful scrutiny, gives the writer more authority as a writer.
9. Getting a big authentic reaction is good – whether the reader liked the writing or not. Big reactions like “You suck,” is not a good reason to rewrite.
10. Taking a risk is a good thing.
11. Making a difference takes risk.
* Writing for shock value: using words and topics to offend for the sake of being offensive, is not creative. It is divisive and outside the scope of this sacred document — where is good parchment when you need it?

Write Now: 
What I'm listening to: The news (It's hurting my ears)
What I want most: chocolate, and good wine, and a hug