Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    So, college. I’m done with it now. And that’s great, because now’s the part where I get to finally pursue what I went to college for, what I’ve been dreaming of doing for most of my life. Writing. Full time. And I’m thankful that I got to go to the school which is now my alma mater, because they have a fantastic writing program. Thanks to that school, I not only have skills to refine my writing to a professional degree, but strong works vetted by industry veterans that are ready to send out. I also have experience and connections I would not have been able to get otherwise. 
    But, as I leave the land of institutionalized learning forever, I’m realizing there are things that they should have prepared me for that they really didn’t. I have my fair share of classes that I’m positive I didn’t need and courses I really wish existed. Especially now, sitting at my desk, writing this post, I’m all too aware of the things I am woefully unprepared for.
    The biggest thing that still catches me as kinda dumb is the emphasis on learning things you probably won’t otherwise use outside of a school setting at the expense of things you definitely will, especially at a level of education where you are expected to have already chosen a specific area of study. It’s safe to assume that if you want to be a film director, you don’t need a working knowledge of theoretical physics. It’s nice to have, but not necessary. But that film student needs a science credit, and it’s either that or quantum mechanics. Meanwhile, a science credit that would benefit his field of study-let’s say camera mechanics or a lab explaining how to safely execute on-set stunts-is an elective. Call me crazy, I think it should be the other way around. That said, here are a couple of things that I wish (as a writing student) would have been part of the curriculum for my core studies.

    You know what’d be nice?  A personal/freelance finances class. Make it a math credit too. 
I would have loved a crash course on how to handle finances as a freelancer, considering that most writers end up being just that. We’re essentially running small businesses, I feel like it’s important to know what exactly goes into that. And aside from running a business, college, you’ve got a bunch of students in your school deep in debt just to have the opportunity to be there, I feel like it’s in your best interest as well if you teach them the most efficient way to pay you back. That way, you can cash in on that money stuff you seem to love so very much. 
    Here’s the thing, the math credit I ended up taking was College Math. And it was a joke. It was basically a refresher of everything I learned from first to twelfth grade. No joke, I spent the first day learning how to round, add, subtract, divide, and multiply. I commonly cite it as one of the biggest wastes of my time at school and I was required to take it. Meanwhile, the closest thing I could find to anything relating to finances was an accounting class intended for Fashion Business students that I would have had to waste one of my elective credits for.

    While we’re at it, include more business and freelance classes into the main curriculum. 
    Teach me what publishing houses will expect from me, show me tricks on how to make it into the business, have me prepare presentations that I can test out in the classroom before I can take it to the world. In all of the classes I was required to take in order to graduate from my school, all I was given a brief summary on how to write a cover letter in one of them. And even at that it was something the teacher decided to just casually bring up. 
    This isn’t to say that my school didn’t offer any classes on business, they offered one freelance-specific course, and all of the professors that taught the genre courses were sure to include a business element in their classes. But the freelance-course isn’t part of the core curriculum. If your program is designed towards equipping writers with the skills to make it in the industry, this is pretty freaking essential. It should be required that every student take an industry-business related course before they graduate because that is knowledge they will use extensively.

    Also-IMPORTANT-Do not make me fill credits just to fill credits. 
    Never thought I’d say that too many electives would be a problem, but I can’t tell you how many semesters I had to pick a class that didn’t contribute to my career or any of my interests. Now, this could be a result of my bad luck with registration timing, but more than once I’ve had to consider taking Tap-dance for Non-majors just so I could graduate on time. Two semesters, I decided to go part time just so I wouldn’t waste money on courses that would not benefit me in the slightest. That is a problem, schools. A big, big problem. And I’m sure it’s not just my school that does this. 
    It’s good that an art school acts like an art school. It’s good that they put emphasis on exploring new things and going down paths that you wouldn’t otherwise consider. But when that comes at the expense of learning more practical skills, there’s a problem. Like any school, there’s a balance to be had when learning the humanities and the sciences. This one still needs a little work.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

     New Years has always-maybe counter intuitively-been a time of reflection. People spend their time looking at the previous year and trying to figure out what went right, what went wrong, just what exactly happened. I could do the same, but there’s not much to say about my year. In fact, it can be summed up in one sentence. 
     It was prep work. 
     I worked on finishing up school. Finishing up my book. Finishing up my part time job. Finding a way to support myself. Trying to cram my creative schedule in there somewhere. Going new places and meeting new people and getting ready for what I will be doing the rest of my life. But now I’m done with all that. It’s time to put all that work to the test. Everything is on me. 
     But that’s not a good enough reason to not go forward. 
     For 2018, rather then spending time thinking about how I have changed, I’ll spend it committing myself to how I will change. I’m not going to make promises on about the future, I can’t. But I will set my intention. In order to making it as a content creator, there are things that I need to get over. 
Thing is, if you’re reading this, you probably know me personally. Maybe we went to school together, or you go to the church which just last week was the job I left, maybe you just passively followed me when I was still with Geeks Under Grace. More likely, you’re friends with my mom on Facebook.* 
     That is what needs to change. I need to go beyond the people I know and reach a wider audience. I need to stop relying on the relationships I already have. I’ve been given storytelling, this amazing gift, and for whatever purpose it serves it needs to go farther then my own hands will reach if it’s going to do it’s job. 
     To make that happen, I need to be brave. Because I’m afraid of people. I’m afraid of the internet. I’m afraid that I’ll fail. I’m afraid that success might not be what I want it to be. I’m afraid that making writing my job will make me hate writing. I’m scared. Somedays, that’s all I am. 
     Fear. The thing about it is, it’s the only emotion that they say you should disregarded.** Happiness should be embraced. Sadness should run its course. Anger should be used for fuel. Fear should be worked in spite of. I think the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard about fear is that it’s the only emotion we don’t share with God. God feels Joy and Grief and Righteous fury, but God is never afraid. That is a product of a perspective that we have, moving through time in a linear fashion.***  
     I have no idea what 2018 will be like. Because of that, I’d rather sit here in this uncomfortable in-between then allow for the possibility that things won’t go my way. That is unacceptable. 
     2018 is the year where fear stops making decisions for me.
     Stay tuned.  

*Whatever the case, welcome back. Love having you here, as always.
**WHEN IT’S EXCESSIVE. When fear is telling you not to eat a sandwich full of spiders, fear should be heeded. Also, stop hanging out at that abandoned strip mall. People that go into that boarded up Quiznos never return.
***Insert obligatory Dr. Who reference.