This is the first entry in a series I’m calling “A Writers Struggle” and was actually inspired by Jonathan Crossfield’s blog that I ran across while doing research into what it takes to become a full-time writer. It’s going to cover my experiences as I go from fresh college graduate to full-time writer and/or editor!
First thing first, I’ll talk a little about myself. As I said, I’m a recent college graduate with my B.A. in English from National University, which I highly recommend for anyone who needs or prefers online education, or a hybrid of online/on-campus classes. The skills I acquired in my two years there far surpassed the rest of my schooling combined. The teachers are knowledgeable and really willing to help students who need it, except for one teacher but that’s a story for another day!
I’ve been writing since as long as I can remember. Even before that, I loved to tell stories, usually just rehashed versions of whatever video game I was watching my Dad play at the time. It was way back then that I realized the joy of telling a story and seeing others react. The first story I wrote, and one my mom ironically ran across recently and gave to me, not only used the same story and characters as Phantasy Star, but was written as if I was planning to make a game, talking about Hit Points, Magic Points, Abilities, and turn-based fighting. It made me smile to think back to those days when everything I wrote felt epic.
In Elementary school, I continued to write, never thinking anything of it. Going into Jr. High and High School, I remember always being excited about a writing assignment and wondering why everyone around me would moan and groan about it, writing was so easy! At least that’s what I thought at the time. It wasn’t until College that I realized some people, despite their best efforts, just can not put words together to make sense.
It wasn’t always that way, though. Even with my passion for writing, I still had my struggles, especially around Sophmore year when a teacher told me that I’m just not that good at writing. At first, it made me sad, then mad, and finally determined to prove her wrong. Unfortunately, she will never know how far I’ve come since then, but none the less the determination has stuck with me every time I sit down to write.
I struggled through my first few years of college, first because I picked a major (Computer Programming) I wasn’t passionate about, and then because I had lost confidence in myself. I ended up at Cal-State University East Bay and in a Creative Writing program. The teacher was a great guy, he saw a lot of potential in my writing and even made a comment on one of my pieces dealing with an intimate situation, telling me that it’s rare to find a writer who can handle such a subject so gracefully. This was what I needed, I had my confidence in writing back! Unfortunately, it was too late because the next semester I found myself on academic probation.
Looking back, this was a changing point in my life. Much like the teacher who told me I wasn’t a good writer I was determined to prove my worth, this time to the people around me and to myself. After a year struggling through classes at a community college, feeling lost and uncertain about my future, my brother-in-law told me he started going to National University and he was enjoying the way it worked. Within 3 weeks, I was enrolled and attending class online.
National University doesn’t work like your average school. Classes only last four weeks, eight weeks for special ones, and you only take one class at a time. This really appealed to me because I always felt I worked better in a short period of time. For the next two years, I was writing every day, producing 2-4 essays a month, ranging from 4-10 pages each, along with multiple threaded discussion posts and replies a week. I was in my element, I felt like nothing could stop me from reaching my goal of graduating! Even non-major classes had a ton of writing due to the fact it was all online.
After a year, that goal was in sight. I had 12 classes left until graduation and was determined to graduate in 2011, which meant 12 straight months with no break. For lack of a better term, 2011 was hell. Every day I was busy for 6-8 hours working on different assignments. Writing for fun stopped and it became a job. It wasn’t until my last three classes I started to struggle a little, mainly because I had to write 2 12-16 page research essays in two months, followed by a class with 3 shorter essays, but I fought through it and by December 17th I had done it! As soon as I made sure everything was clear, I applied for graduation and received my Degree on January 15th. I can’t explain the feeling of holding my degree for the first time, I was a graduate in English!
After a few weeks of casually applying for random writing jobs, reality started setting in. Getting a job is hard, getting a job as a writer is even harder. In the past month, I’ve applied for a ton of jobs, filled out online job databases, started reading blog after blog from other writers, and started getting my portfolio and website together. In short, my job search has become a full-time job.
So there it is, how I got from writing my first story to graduation. It’s been a long and strange trip that seems to just be getting started. Hey, they say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, right?