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KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 03:43 PM
I think I may be in the wrong section for this. If so, mods, please feel free to move it. I see what I'm about to ask as more a question than anything.

So... hello everyone. I'm Kody Boye. I'm a fiction writer and, also, a community college student, one with no focus or projected career goal at that. My current major in college is... guess... 'General Studies.' To say I'm not happy with that would be an understatement, and though I've had many a discussion with people recommending different fields of study for me to get a degree in (Journalism, English, History, etc.,) I've got a bit of a conundrum. Basically put, the three I've mentioned above just don't do much for me. There's no spark, no interest, no... heart, I guess you could say. I don't want to be one of those people who get a degree just to have it for job purposes and then be stuck in a miserable position. I know what I want to do with myself--write--and while I wholeheartedly believe I have the potential to make a career for myself with my writing, as I've somewhat developed one now, I'm trying to figure out if studying creative writing as a whole would benefit me, as I'm well aware that a very low percentage of writers actually make enough money to sustain themselves financially through their craft.

A few things I should probably point out before this article goes any further:

- I've been of the opinion for a while now that studying creative writing would be useless because I know the mechanics of writing, story-structuring, that sort of thing, etc. from some six years of critiquing from groups and editors, so this is a major concern for me. This is something I've been reconsidering for a while, especially since the idea struck me that I could possibly teach it if I actually decided to get a degree in the field.

- I've been worried about the old stigma of the 'arts' schooling--meaning that studying the arts will kill your desire to actually do it.

- I've also been concerned about studying creative writing as a career because I don't know if teaching it would be beneficial to me as a person (meaning I could live off it, happily, without worry, etc.)

Now... my current idea for next semester is to do what I've been planning on doing all along: sign up for three classes, but make one of them be creative writing. My secondary plan, once school starts up again, is to scope out the curriculum, see just what is taught, and choose to either stay or run based on what I see.

My main question for the forum is this: Have any of you studied creative writing? If so, how was it? And if those of you who've studied it managed to keep with it, have you received your degree and are you making progress in your life with it? (i.e, teaching, having a stable income, not being homeless and hanging out, scraggly-bearded and stinky-clothed, at the Jack in the Box at odd hours of the morning, that sort of thing.)

I know the creative writing field of study has a thing against genre writers (that much I'm already aware of.) I've had recommendations mostly to 'fake it,' per se, if attending said classes, by using my duality of writing both genre and contemporary/literary fiction to my advantage and therefor disassociating myself from genre whilst attending school. While I do think I could do that without potentially scaring myself, I'm a bit wary, as you all may have already figured out.

I'd appreciate any and all feedback you all could offer.

Thanks,

- Kody

Fruitbat
11-14-2011, 04:32 PM
Well of course it is a personal decision that nobody can make for you.

BotByte
11-14-2011, 04:33 PM
Are you me?

Seriously. CC in General Studies at the moment and wondering this also.


Here's what I've collected:

If you want to go to school for writing, good. There are a large number of people out there that will tell you to spend 4 years in a library instead of wasting $200,000 for college. But, hey, look: If YOU will like to learn more about writing, then learn it. Don't guess at what you're doing. Everyone, I mean everyone needs to learn more about writing. If you believe that you know everything there is about writing, then write the best selling novel in the history of humanity and become rich. If you haven't, you probably need to learn something.


Here's what I'm doing:

I'm finishing up General Studies with a slight twist of english and teaching.
Then moving on to a dual major of english and psychology to a masters.
After that, probably a Dr.Phil in psychology.

Sure it's a whole lot of more work. But those are the two biggest dumps of knowledge that my brain have. Writing is my freetime and psychology somehow working into my system.

I'm doing this because I want to study what I enjoy. I can see future jobs, but why bother?

If you go for a english degree, you're setting yourself up for a teaching job. There are not many jobs out there for a english masters and too many english masters to begun with. So the chances of working at what you studied is low.

Granted, there are some success stories out there and it's rare to happen. But it does happen.


Look at it this way:

Is college a problem for you to attend? Do you have to work and take loans out for college and room+board? If you do, you might want to go for a degree that will focus on a job.

If you're like me: Who lives with mommy and attends school full-time. (I'm preparing for a loan for university) And I don't have any big worries of my future. Look, I can live with my parents while attending school without any hard draw backs. So to study what I want is simple.


Advise to you:
Read "On writing" by Stephen King. He talks about how he hit the lottery. He also studied english and teaching and became a teacher.

And go for you current goals. If you want to write, do it. If you want to know more about writing, go to school, don't just read and write. Our elders aren't exiled anymore because they know more then us, understand?

And for advise for becoming a fulltime author (what a lot of people say): Many people can write, but only a select few can be writers.

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 04:48 PM
My thing is that I'm not living at home with family -- I'm living with friends. I'm not worrying about paying rent, as I do other work for the person I'm living with, but I'm forced to take out student loans because I can't get a job (and even if I could, I probably couldn't handle it even though I'm a part-time student, lots of issues there, etc.) My biggest issue at the moment is whether or not I'm going in the right direction being in college. At the current point in time, I feel like I'm just digging a pit for myself to lay down and die in. :/

Fruitbat
11-14-2011, 04:59 PM
And really, imo, that hand to mouth existence is not likely to change all that much if you don't make earning a good living a priority. You will probably make more than nothing, sure, but if you're like over 90% of guys out there, you will also have a family to take care of, so there you are back at just above nothing.

Here's a good place to start, the US labor department site (assuming you're in the US). And, if you looked into some of the jobs or took a career interest/aptitude test at your school's whatever office, you may be surprised at what strengths and interests fit more than you might be aware of. The first two years of college is mostly general studies anyway. You are asking good questions at the right time. :)

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2007/dec/wk5/art04.htm

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 05:05 PM
And really, imo, that hand to mouth existence is not likely to change all that much if you don't give any emphasis on making a good living. You will probably make more than nothing, sure, but if you're like over 90% of guys out there, you will also have a family to take care of, so there you are back at just above nothing.


Not sure where the emphasis on the family thing is coming from. I'm nineteen and have no plans on having children yet, if at all, so that's not a big concern.

As to aptitude tests, I've taken them before. They usually put me in either medical fields (which I have no inclination to go into if only because of the amount of time and money it takes into getting a degree and because it's just not something that interests me) or in the arts fields (which, again, make me scratch my head and extremely uncomfortable at the same time.)

At this point in time, I'm trying to figure out what to do, like you mentioned. I currently don't have a fallback option that leaves me in a particularly safe place. Going back 'home' involves placing myself back in a dangerous/threatening environment, so that's completely out of the option. :/

BotByte
11-14-2011, 05:11 PM
My thing is that I'm not living at home with family -- I'm living with friends. I'm not worrying about paying rent, as I do other work for the person I'm living with, but I'm forced to take out student loans because I can't get a job (and even if I could, I probably couldn't handle it even though I'm a part-time student, lots of issues there, etc.) My biggest issue at the moment is whether or not I'm going in the right direction being in college. At the current point in time, I feel like I'm just digging a pit for myself to lay down and die in. :/

And what other direction do you see?
College is to further your learning. A degree in computer or networking will get you a job, but not something you would like. Who likes to listen to idiots curse at a computer because the CD drive won't take their floppy disk? (I've seen this in High School)

I'm going because I want to learn more and to say I have. You can always audit writing classes too. But you can't show that you have a degree in writing.


And really, imo, that hand to mouth existence is not likely to change all that much if you don't put any emphasis on making a good living. You will probably make more than nothing, sure, but if you're like over 90% of guys out there, you will also have a family to take care of, so there you are back at just above nothing.

Here's a good place to start, the US labor department site (assuming you're in the US). And, if you looked into some of the jobs or took a career interest/aptitude test at your school's whatever office, you may be surprised at what strengths and interests fit more than you might be aware of. The first two years of college is mostly general studies anyway. You are asking good questions at the right time. :)

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2007/dec/wk5/art04.htm


I saw something on the news about Astronomy masters will never be out of a job. Maybe I should study the stars then.

Sorry, had to bring that up.


To Kody, any degree will bring you a job. But no degree is guaranteed a job. You might study computers and earn a masters in it, but it won't stop you from working a BestBuy in the camera section.

If you really want a job, go study nursing. It's one of the most wanted jobs in the country and pretty easy to go for.

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 05:15 PM
And what other direction do you see?

I see getting a job, paying off my student loans, saving my money... I see other things too, but they're less than pleasant and are only last-resort mechanisms.


And what other direction do you see?I saw something on the news about Astronomy masters will never be out of a job. Maybe I should study the stars then.

Sorry, had to bring that up.


To Kody, any degree will bring you a job. But no degree is guaranteed a job. You might study computers and earn a masters in it, but it won't stop you from working a BestBuy in the camera section.

If you really want a job, go study nursing. It's one of the most wanted jobs in the country and pretty easy to go for.

No way in hell you could ever get me to go to school for nursing, haha. As to 'pretty easy to go for,' I'd have to disagree with you on that. I have two friends who are in school for nursing, one of whom is constantly consumed with it, the other of which is suffering from severe anxiety and bipolar issues due to the amount of stress it places on him. (I myself am bipolar and don't need any added negative stimuli.)

Fruitbat
11-14-2011, 05:20 PM
And where did I say he should do something he didn't like? I didn't. Please read before you post.

Arcadia Divine
11-14-2011, 05:24 PM
No way in hell you could ever get me to go to school for nursing, haha. As to 'pretty easy to go for,' I'd have to disagree with you on that. I have two friends who are in school for nursing, one of whom is constantly consumed with it, the other of which is suffering from severe anxiety and bipolar issues due to the amount of stress it places on him. (I myself am bipolar and don't need any added negative stimuli.)

My mom is a nurse. I don't recommend it if you don't manage stress well.

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 05:26 PM
My mom is a nurse. I don't recommend it if you don't manage stress well.

Bipolar Disorder does not make well of people who are afflicted with it.

OnlyStones
11-14-2011, 05:27 PM
What do you write about?

Study that.

BotByte
11-14-2011, 05:28 PM
No way in hell you could ever get me to go to school for nursing, haha. As to 'pretty easy to go for,' I'd have to disagree with you on that. I have two friends who are in school for nursing, one of whom is constantly consumed with it, the other of which is suffering from severe anxiety and bipolar issues due to the amount of stress it places on him. (I myself am bipolar and don't need any added negative stimuli.)


I know a guy about 6'2'' 235lbs all muscle and is attending college for a nursing degree. He's done lumber, trucking and the marines and now he's going for nursing.

Well, nursing was just something I threw out there. I wouldn't go for it though, I'm bad with names and numbers.


I think you should also talk to a counselor. Most colleges have mentors from the staff and the professors themselves will give you good advise.

Going for a writing degree is almost like saying: Let's waste a lot of time. But we will have fun too.

I audited a semester of creative writing and really enjoyed it. Probably was the most productive 3 months I had in a LONG time.

gothicangel
11-14-2011, 05:29 PM
I always find it funny when people cite nursing and teaching etc as guaranteed jobs. Right now, the reality is there is no such thing. Governments are slashing budgets, which -guess what- means fewer public sector jobs. This means teaching and nursing staff. I spent the summer working in McD's. You want to know how many qualifed teachers and nurses are flipping burgers for minimum wage?

I have just graduated from Scottish Literature, currently studying Classical Studies and I am applying for post-graduate study in Roman Frontier Studies. Work wise I have two applications out for librarian jobs and as a Operations Manager for Hadrian's Wall. When I started my degree I thought I would get a job in Publishing, Tourism wasn't something I would have even considered!

I love it. :)

BotByte
11-14-2011, 05:32 PM
What do you write about?

Study that.

It's a good idea. But for the fiction, you need experience more than anything.

Some people also say to attend college for writing, but also look into classes you wouldn't normally take.

I took a african studies call. Loved it. And then I add some ideas I gained there to my writing.

A lot of my writing is action and fighting. So I took a lot, still am, taking classes in martial arts. I have two classes every weekend in fencing and boxing. Last year it was judo and MMA

BotByte
11-14-2011, 05:34 PM
I always find it funny when people cite nursing and teaching etc as guaranteed jobs. Right now, the reality is there is no such thing. Governments are slashing budgets, which -guess what- means fewer public sector jobs. This means teaching and nursing staff. I spent the summer working in McD's. You want to know how many qualifed teachers and nurses are flipping burgers for minimum wage?

I have just graduated from Scottish Literature, currently studying Classical Studies and I am applying for post-graduate study in Roman Frontier Studies. Work wise I have two applications out for librarian jobs and as a Operations Manager for Hadrian's Wall. When I started my degree I thought I would get a job in Publishing, Tourism wasn't something I would have even considered!

I love it. :)

Wait until all the people going for nursing get out of school and raid the hospitals for jobs. I can see the unemployment now...

Sorry, but I can't see any jobs for Scottish Literature. Sounds interesting though. But you're also a example of what you wanted to study and went for it.

crunchyblanket
11-14-2011, 05:45 PM
I have just graduated from Scottish Literature, currently studying Classical Studies and I am applying for post-graduate study in Roman Frontier Studies. Work wise I have two applications out for librarian jobs and as a Operations Manager for Hadrian's Wall. When I started my degree I thought I would get a job in Publishing, Tourism wasn't something I would have even considered!



You're telling me. I studied English Lit/Creative Writing and work in a hospital pathology lab. If I could turn back time, I'd have studied Biomedical Science instead...

gothicangel
11-14-2011, 05:45 PM
Sorry, but I can't see any jobs for Scottish Literature.

I worked for The Sir Walter Scott Trust who promote the life and works of Sir Walter Scott. I've moved back to Northumberland because I want to study Roman History at PG level, and find work within the Hadrian's Wall heritage locations here.

Scottish Literature is just another arm of English Studies, just like American Literature, Post Colonial Literature or The Gothic Imagination etc . . .

An English degree is a good degree to have, and transferable.

rainsmom
11-14-2011, 05:51 PM
If you want to stay in the writing world, you could pursue technical writing or instructional design. Both can pay well, depending on your experience and where you live.

In this economy, I wouldn't pursue a degree that wouldn't help me get a job later. The job market will be bad enough without making yourself less employable. That said, do what you enjoy. If you don't know what that is, maybe you need to stop racking up student loan bills and drop out of school until you have a better plan.

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 05:53 PM
In this economy, I wouldn't pursue a degree that wouldn't help me get a job later. The job market will be bad enough without making yourself less employable. That said, do what you enjoy. If you don't know what that is, maybe you need to stop racking up student loan bills and drop out of school until you have a better plan.

Is it wrong that I love you for saying that?

You're the first person I've talked to out of dozens of friends who's said anything remotely like this.

BotByte
11-14-2011, 06:03 PM
Is it wrong that I love you for saying that?

You're the first person I've talked to out of dozens of friends who's said anything remotely like this.

If you feel that way, look at 90 day job training and get it over with. The pell grant will pay for that.


But taking a year out or whatnot seems useless and time wasted to me.

At Gothicangel. It's the reason why I'm going for English Master rather than creative writing. I get a more well-rounded title to my degree.

The Lonely One
11-14-2011, 06:05 PM
I'm glad no one has turned this into their personal soap box about MFA versus non-MFA, as tends to happen sometimes.

Here's my future plans and how I came to reach them, perhaps I can give you some insight. Perhaps not. But hopefully...

Okay, so I started out as a business major though I'd always been especially good at writing (excelled at written assignments, SUCK at math, like, a monkey with a calculator could do better). At the time I was in bands and figured I could open a music store. Then I realized opening a music store had little to nothing to do with music, and everything to do with, well, running a business. All the stuffy suit stuff I hate. I did horrible in classes, became disinfranchised and turned to writing.

I switched to technical/professional writing because I was tricking myself into "getting a job." I knew I could get a job after four years with the degree. But once again it seemed to slip into that pencil-pusher business area that I hate. Presentations. Grunt work. Nothing wrong with it, now, I don't mean to say anything against those working these jobs, but this was my sentiment at the time. I was strongly pushed toward creative writing, because that was what I really wanted to do. I decided not to cut my heart off from what it wanted any longer.

Now, please consider that I've never been practical. Life is so stupidly random that I find being practical and living unhappily is a mistake you only get to make once and then you're dead. So this may not be the same path for someone looking for financial stability or to stay out of debt.

I've been a creative writing major for quite a few years now and I have loved every class, every minute of it. The people I've met at conferences, books I've read, caring faculty. Sure, colleges have this odd literary fiction boner but I have learned so much and have also discovered you can check the lit fic stuff at the door and write whatever you want. A lot of stuff I've learned from some very brilliant and prolific published writers/professors can be applied spanning various genres. You just have to accept that lit fic is the world most of them live in so they're going to push that style.

I am going to apply for an MFA next fall. Now, MFAs are difficult, cost a lot, and about the only career opportunity for you out there is Stephanie Meyer or University Professor, it seems. But I'm taking it to learn to write. Is it stupid to spend that much money on one? I don't know. You'd have to make that decision on your own. But depending on where you go it gives you the opportunity to work directly with published and still publishing authors. By the time you get out you should have a GOOD novel-length project ready for publication (thesis). And it does give you job prospects in academia, though it seems more and more colleges want you to go for a doctor in comp/ret or something if you ever want to become permanent faculty.

All that said, my wife is going for a doctor of audiology in grad school. I won't have to work, though I'd go for the MFA anyway, but it will certainly allow me to, if I'd like, put everything I've got into writing the way I want to write.

I spent three years as a crime journalist and hated it profusely by the end. I had panic attacks every day from the amount of anguish and trauma and anger (a fair share toward me) I encountered. I felt you had to really have no emotions to do the job well. You had to think about the competition papers and not the victims of a crime and their deep and incurable hurts.

The moral of my story is I want to write fiction, or at any rate creative writing, and I could never settle. I kept trying, trust me, but it doesn't work for me.

The rest is up to you. Seems like you have some time to decide and a bright future ahead no matter what. I'm not going to say screw the safe stuff and go for what you need to fuel your passion, because that ain't up to me to say. But I can wish you the best of luck and allow you to take my story any way you'd like, if in fact I've been any help at all. ;)

Fruitbat
11-14-2011, 06:05 PM
Or set to doing those things that will help you decide, career counselor, online resources, and pick a degree. I would go for that degree while you can, not stop, for several reasons. As I said, the first two years are general anyway. Time does not often give an answer by itself. You won't make good money most likely until you have that degree. And life has a way of getting in the way and making it harder to finish later. It's a time of life with a lot of decisions that can weigh heavily later on. Keep us posted. :)

KodyBoye
11-14-2011, 06:15 PM
If you feel that way, look at 90 day job training and get it over with. The pell grant will pay for that.

I didn't qualify for the Pell grant.

The Lonely One
11-14-2011, 06:46 PM
I'm glad no one has turned this into their personal soap box about MFA versus non-MFA, as tends to happen sometimes.



I just realized my post DOES kind of look like an MFA soap box.

Wanted to qualify, my story is just sort of the thoughts that occurred to me as I came further and further down this path. I'm not totally advocating an MFA for everyone because it isn't right for everyone. Plus anyone who says you can teach yourself writing at the library is right. It just takes a lot of self-motivation and drive and ability.

I also no longer get grants, am completely on loans, plus I don't get assistance from anyone and am married. So I didn't want anyone to think this is going to be an easier path for me. Certainly, when it comes to money, it isn't. But it is the path I want for me.

I wouldn't shy away from college this early in the game, if I were you, because I was really undecided much later into college than you are now.

But again it's up to you what you do with your life and no one has the right to judge you but you. Again, best of luck I do hope you find the right path to follow.

Sunnyside
11-14-2011, 06:54 PM
Kody, I hope you're taking what we all have to say on here and filing it away for reference, but AREN'T making a Bible out of it -- because truth be told, there is no one plan that works best. You're you. Only you know what will work best for you. We can all share our experiences, but all we can give you is what the world looks like from where we sit. So all I can do is share my experience, and you can do with that what you will.

My degree is in English. It kept me reading and writing, but it also kept my options open. My first real job out of college was working in politics -- something I'd NEVER envisioned myself doing -- answering letters for a U.S. Senator. From there, I became a policy analyst, worked as a state superintendent for education, ran a non-profit, then worked back in politics again for a while. And the entire time, I was researching my first book. My job was policy, but it wasn't who I was.

If you can keep that in mind, I think you'll be happier no matter what you decide to do. You're still a writer, even if you pay your bills by working in a lab, or sweeping floors. You get to choose. Keep your options open.

quicklime
11-14-2011, 06:55 PM
Or set to doing those things that will help you decide, career counselor, online resources, and pick a degree. I would go for that degree while you can, not stop, for several reasons. As I said, the first two years are general anyway. Time does not often give an answer by itself. You won't make good money most likely until you have that degree. And life has a way of getting in the way and making it harder to finish later. It's a time of life with a lot of decisions that can weigh heavily later on. Keep us posted. :)


this

of my friends who went to college and later "dropped out for a semester" well under half ever returned. they weren't flunkies, just kids who got seduced by $25K per year jobs......at the time it looked like a shitload of cash, and once they started to really "dig in", starting a family, buying a home, etc., even just a car loan, they wound up trapped. Or committed if you prefer. But most of the folks who drop out never go back, in my experience.

That isn't an argument against you dropping out, it is something to consider--make damn sure you're THAT miserable, and this current funk isn't some sort of naive "but, but, none of these career options SINGS to me...." things. Because if you drop out, you may come back with clarity, but you also may not come back.

As for an English degree, you mentioned maybe liking the idea of teaching--if so, go for it. If not, an English degree can take you on several tangents, as well, as gothic and a few others mentioned. At the same time, I strongly disagree with botbyte; yes, we all have more to learn, BUT you can learn a lot about writing outside of class too, as a hell of a lot of folks with no English degrees and plenty of books to their name can attest to. I would not recommend an English degree to anyone who wasn't willing to use it (or skip it) for some other job; if they literally ONLY want to write, I'd still recommend a different fallback degree and a minor or something similar....just because of the odds.



Get the degree you want, but try basing that on the slightly more realistic "what jobs can i do where I won't feel like drinking at night and crying on the drive to work" instead of "what jobs would I truly love?" That seems cynical, but "love" can be fickle. I'd go with Fruit Bat's advice to do the aptitude thing, then see what possible related career options you have WITHIN that area. As an example, I went through to PhD, thought I would be a toxicologist but ended up being more of a cell biologist. Here are some job options:

Teaching biology at small colleges: mostly straight-up teaching instead of research

Teaching at large research colleges: mostly running a lab, studying specific areas and questions (as an example, the biologists I know do not work on "curing cancer", they work on how p53 or kinase proteins are involved in cancer pathways...the focus is more narrow that neople generally think.) You run the lab, but usually from afar: grants, teaching, faculty meetings, and publications tend to take the majority of the time. Note the large/small divide includes lots of gray in between.

"Post-doc for life" or lab manager: Many large labs have one or several PhDs who come closer to actually "running" the lab, as sort of middle management. They tend to do more work and less teaching and writing, although this is also on a sliding scale.

Govt work: could be research or testing, from studying viruses with the USDA to running a state effluent testing lab.

Biotech R&D: more work and less publishing, etc. than academia, but market-directed--you can't do anything you want, there has to be a connection to future product.

Manufacturing or contract screening: Making or using the stuff R&D created....lab most days, making it b3etter or faster or more efficient

Scientific writing

Scientific artwork/illustrator (often Bachelors in bio and minor in art or vice versa, the folks who make the drawings in things like college textbooks)

Science legal (PhD usually plus law degree, useful for contracts and IP and things like that with larger biotech companies, as well as universities, consulting firms, etc.

Tech Support: I am a phone jockey. In my spot, I have a low workload and high value, so my work includes going into lab to help with instrument setup, proofing protocols, offering input in development, etc. as well as actually assisting customers. Other places have actual phone banks and FAQ lists to go through; like most things, it varies and there is a a spectrum.



Anyway, I'm sure I've missed quite a few other options, but those were all choices I could have had--note how different many of them are. I suspect when you hear something like "nursing" you imagine cancer wards or triage nursing, but have you considered things like lifestyle coaching/counseling, school nurse, etc.? That may still not be for you, but I'm wondering if you've really thought of the options any given career path offers, including English but also including the others.

quicklime
11-14-2011, 06:58 PM
If you can keep that in mind, I think you'll be happier no matter what you decide to do. You're still a writer, even if you pay your bills by working in a lab, or sweeping floors. You get to choose. Keep your options open.


QFT

The guy who wrote "Heart of Darkness" (name slips me) was among other things a ship worker.....but not an English major. Robert McCammon was driving forklift or some other menial job and wanted to escape. Grisham was well, a lawyer, IIRC.

If you want an english degree, by all means get one, but you don't need one to write, or to write successfully.

The Lonely One
11-14-2011, 07:06 PM
QFT

The guy who wrote "Heart of Darkness" (name slips me) was among other things a ship worker.....but not an English major. Robert McCammon was driving forklift or some other menial job and wanted to escape. Grisham was well, a lawyer, IIRC.

If you want an english degree, by all means get one, but you don't need one to write, or to write successfully.

Joseph Conrad?

quicklime
11-14-2011, 08:17 PM
Joseph Conrad?


correct....IIRC he learned English either on a boat or in a shipyard

JSDR
11-14-2011, 08:39 PM
Hello


A few things I should probably point out before this article goes any further:

- I've been of the opinion for a while now that studying creative writing would be useless because I know the mechanics of writing, story-structuring, that sort of thing, etc. from some six years of critiquing from groups and editors, so this is a major concern for me. This is something I've been reconsidering for a while, especially since the idea struck me that I could possibly teach it if I actually decided to get a degree in the field. Like you mentioned, take a few classes and see if they would be useful. Take the more advanced classes. Creative writing entails more than what you've listed. And it depends on the genre you want to write in.

- I've been worried about the old stigma of the 'arts' schooling--meaning that studying the arts will kill your desire to actually do it. I've seen this happen.

- I've also been concerned about studying creative writing as a career because I don't know if teaching it would be beneficial to me as a person (meaning I could live off it, happily, without worry, etc.) I once made $20/ hour tutoring it...

Now... my current idea for next semester is to do what I've been planning on doing all along: sign up for three classes, but make one of them be creative writing. My secondary plan, once school starts up again, is to scope out the curriculum, see just what is taught, and choose to either stay or run based on what I see. You can double major. You can audit classes.

My main question for the forum is this: Have any of you studied creative writing? Yes. If so, how was it? Excellent if you pick the right classes. Hell if you don't like the class you're in. And if those of you who've studied it managed to keep with it, have you received your degree and are you making progress in your life with it? (i.e, teaching, having a stable income, not being homeless and hanging out, scraggly-bearded and stinky-clothed, at the Jack in the Box at odd hours of the morning, that sort of thing.)

I know the creative writing field of study has a thing against genre writers (that much I'm already aware of.) I've had recommendations mostly to 'fake it,' per se, if attending said classes, by using my duality of writing both genre and contemporary/literary fiction to my advantage and therefor disassociating myself from genre whilst attending school. While I do think I could do that without potentially scaring myself, I'm a bit wary, as you all may have already figured out. IDK about this... I've always held that a true mark of intelligence is being able to accept ideas without having to conform to them. The idea of having to disassociate yourself in order to appear a certain way to your peers... smacks of ignorance and sounds like shooting yourself in the foot (ETA the comments sound ignorant, not you). A big, IMHO - BIG advantage to higher education is networking. College gives you an opportunity to be with people who enjoy the same things you do. Why be perceived as good at only one thing, when you can make an impression in many fields?Why block potential friendships with future publishers, editors, cowriters, etc?

I'd appreciate any and all feedback you all could offer.

Thanks,

- Kody

I would say to think about what it is you enjoy doing/studying besides writing. Writing can't be the only thing. It's like saying "I love to eat" but you don't actually know what taste you like/ don't like.

Figure out what you're interested in, and pursue a promising career in that. What do you like to write? Find a way to get a job that will give you more experience with that topic/ genre.

happywritermom
11-14-2011, 08:45 PM
I have a couple fo bipolar siblings, so, to some extent, I can understand your line of thinking.
I would not get a creative writing degree with the possibilty of teaching in mind if you honestly want to write for a living. I taught and when I did, I was so busy with lesson plans and grading that I never had the time and energy to write.
Definitely take some creative writing courses, maybe double major in creative writing and something else, but don't make it your only major.
I had a double major in creative writing and in interpersonal communications. I later got my master's degree in creative writing. Thanks to some awesome internships, I had a good, 11-year career as a journalist, which provided me with plenty of experiences for my fiction. I love journalism, but I hated the business of it and I can't imagine what it would have been like to study it in college. That career path was always meant to be temporary for me.
There must be something besides writing that interests you at least a bit. Heck, study business and open a Burger King. If you are writing sci/fi, study science. If you are writing romance, study psychology. Get in the field for a while and try to understand it better. The whole world is open to you.
As for the bias of creative writing workshops, it's just not true. We had plenty of genre writers in workshops, but the good ones were, ultimately, excellent writers overall. They could write with depth and originality.
The genre writers who became bitter toward the programs were those who wrote from formulas with no depth. They just weren't all that good, but they thought they were good because they believed they were supposed to emulate the cliches.

Libbie
11-14-2011, 09:04 PM
Hey, Kody

I just read your initial post and I haven't read any other posts in the thread yet, so I may be repeating advice. But here's some advice from somebody in her mid-thirties, who doesn't have a college education, and who also believes very strongly in her potential as a writer.

First of all, it takes a LONG TIME to establish a writing career. You will write for years and publish short fiction and maybe a few novels with small presses and you'll never be able to quit your day job until you've established a following and a backlist. It takes many years to do this. Many. Breaking into a writing career is more a process of chipping away at the wall than dynamiting it to smithereens. The dynamite works for a rare few individuals who seem to have an extra helping of luck, but a wise person will not count on being one of those rarities.

While you are establishing a career, you need an occupation to pay the bills. The "starving artist" thing may seem charming to a young person, but believe me, it gets old extremely fast. You will write at your best if you're comfortable. I don't mean upper-middle-class comfortable; I mean living in a secure apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood, with your bills reliably paid so you always have electricity and heat and running water when you need it...that kind of comfortable. So you need the kind of job that will allow you to work steadily.

Yes, it sucks that the reality of being a young writer is that you write on the side and work for most of the day. It sucks a lot. But a good 99.9% of the writers you know and admire have gone through it. It's a rite of passage. Even as confident as you feel about your future as a writer (and that's a good sign!), you need to expect that you'll spend at least a decade working while you write as a sideline thing. The publishing industry just moves very slowly, and there's not much we can do to change that.

With all that in mind, get a useful degree. Creative writing might feel soulful and exciting to study, but in this economy -- and this economy is in for the long haul -- that kind of degree is about as useful as no degree, except you'll have a lot of debt to pay off, too.

But you can find a useful degree that you can still feel passionate and excited about. Think about the kind of writing you like to do. Are you really into fantasy? A good foundation in history will serve you well there, as most fantasy authors base their invented worlds on some known period of world history. Are you into science fiction? Biology is fascinating to study, and as you're learning the basics of biology you'll pick up so many other sciences along the way. Four years studying science will make you a much stronger, more plausible sci-fi writer.

For any kind of writing, a degree in psychology or anthropology will serve you very well, too. Characters are people, and in order to make your characters believable, you need to understand people well. These disciplines will give you everything you need to write good characters.

Maybe if you approach your choice of program with an eye to how it will help you as a writer (AND seem like a useful bank of knowledge to potential employers) you'll find that you have more passion for it.

Just some thoughts. Going for what moves you seems like a great idea when you're young, but if it's not the kind of degree that will actually assist you in finding gainful employment, it's going to be a hindrance to your writing career in the long run.

Filigree
11-14-2011, 09:04 PM
Some good information here, Kody.

I'll add my experiences. I abandoned a Bachelor of Arts degree 25 years ago, because I looked at what was going on in my field and realized I didn't have to pay another (then) 10K to get a good job in commercial art and design. I wasn't planning to write, curate, or teach in the arts, so I didn't need the paperwork. That plan worked then, now I'd probably say get the Bachelor's degree, because it is the arbitrary determiner for a lot of jobs these days. For some reason, employers seem to think that getting that degree shows your tenacity. (I'm going back for a Masters in Metallurgical Science at age 46, as soon as I can swing the cash.)

Tech writing and online content are good 'grunt' jobs for writers with the needed aptitude. You get paid regularly, you fine-tune writing strategies, and while it's not exhilarating it's also not 1) working in a bookshop or 2) teaching English.

May I suggest a degree or vocational training in a field other than writing? I adore manufacturing jobs, myself. I'm a blue-collar gal, so factory jobs hold no fear for me. Even in this economy, there are manufacturing jobs around, especially in the bigger cities. Having the proof that I can use certain types of welding equipment and drive a fork-lift, has always snagged me jobs when nothing else was around.

Libbie
11-14-2011, 09:12 PM
and by the way, those who've said you don't need to get a degree in a writing-related field to write are absolutely correct. An extraordinary number of well-known writers have no degree at all or degrees unrelated to writing. A publisher or agent will never care that you don't have a degree. Employers will.

You should consider a degree that will help you find work in this terrible economy, and keep writing on the side.

Myself, as I've worked on my writing and chipped away at the wall I've held down a pretty astounding array of jobs. Just a few: dog trainer, show dog handler, medical transcriptionist, finance supervisor for a major corporation, wedding photographer, yarn dyer, zoo keeper, caretaker for an Alzheimer's patient, bookseller. I am now eagerly pursuing work as a custodian, because it actually pays quite well, and it's physically active, and I've found that I write better when I'm physically active all day. I don't mind cleaning up feces -- that's all you do as a zoo keeper anyway. I try to take jobs, whenever I am able, that enhance my writing abilities in one way or another.

Quickbread
11-14-2011, 09:26 PM
I'm really surprised more people here don't work as copywriters for marketing/advertising. Copywriting is a really solid career that can lead to a six-figure salary over time once you get up to a director level. It's also something you can do freelance once you get enough experience and contacts under your belt. It's sometimes quite creative, sometimes interesting, and pays very well. Companies will always need to market themselves, and some companies actually do really cool stuff you can feel good about helping to promote. To go in this direction, an English, creative writing or communications degree would be helpful.

I'm also surprised more people don't mention editing, full-time and also freelance, as a writing-related career. There are magazines, online pubs, academic books, fiction and nonfiction works, and they all need to be edited.

An MFA was very helpful to me in evolving my writing skills. Although I don't know if it was necessary per se, I feel like it shaved 10 years off my learning curve. It also gives really great structure, and I think most importantly, helps you build a community of writing contacts that become very valuable after you're done with the program. I know there's a community right here, but the MFA is a whole different, more intimate level of connection. You can gain readers in an MFA program who can continue to be your readers long-term. Plus, published MFA faculty who know your work can help you out by passing on a good word for you with agents/editors later on.

Fruitbat
11-14-2011, 10:09 PM
Not sure where the emphasis on the family thing is coming from. I'm nineteen and have no plans on having children yet, if at all, so that's not a big concern.

Kody, somehow I missed your post earlier. College is not about the present, it is for your future, to set you up well in your adult life. That has an extremely high likelihood of being much different than it is now. The classes last only a very short amount of time in the overall scheme of things, it is mainly to be able to make a decent living. I would definitely not go into it only thinking of being a nineteen year old guy. Just answering your post, of course all is up to you.

Quickbread
11-14-2011, 10:29 PM
To add a couple more things:
I graduated with an English degree only intent on working with words in some capacity. My first job was as an ad proofreader, then I did newspapers ad sales (hated it, but it was great for my social skills), and then I moved into copywriting full time. I am sure my English major helped me get those first jobs. I got my MFA while working full-time, and the company I worked for, a marketing communications firm, gave me a little salary bump after I graduated. They didn't have to do that, of course, but it did sharpen my perspective on writing, which made me stronger at my job, too.

One more thought about creative writing programs, I had some faculty who taught writers that blur genres, such as Philip K Dick and Kurt Vonnegut. You just have to find a program that's open-minded and not stodgy or pretentious.

Jamesaritchie
11-14-2011, 10:46 PM
Find something you love to do, and get a degree in whatever that is.

Degrees are important, but no one hires a degree. Employers hire people, and show me ten people with the same degree, and I'll show you ten people who are not equal in the money they make, the happiness they've found, or their future prospects.

I don't care which degree you hold, many people out there are making a very good living with that degree, even if many others fail miserably with it.

Cream rises to the top, sediment falls to the bottom, and plain old milk fills the middle, and you can shake any degree you want at the vat, but the cream still floats, and the sediment still sinks to the bottom.

If you're smarter, more talented, and harder working than those around you, you'll be the cream. If you aren't as smart, aren't as talented, aren't as hard working as those around you, you'll sink to the bottom. It's as simple as that.

They say an English degree is one of the worst you can get, if you want a well-paid trip through life, and for the average person, this is true. But the writing world is filled with extremely rich writers who hold only an English degree. So are many other areas.

Smart, talented, hard-working people succeed, and they succeed in any field, with any degree. Or without a degree. I have a friend whose dad died when my friend was just seventeen. My friend inherited abut ten acres of land. He now owns two thousand acres, and has something over seven million in the bank. He managed this without any degree, and without any help, other than being very smart, very talented, and extremely hard-working.

Truthfully, most people need a degree just for the job it will get them. For these people, the job still won't be great, they still won't get rich, and they still won't be very happy, but they may be able to retire with enough money to pay the bills each month, and to take a two week vacation each year. If you think you;re one of these people, then choose a degree because it will probably mean steady employment.

If you aren't one of these people, then choose a degree because it's what you love doing. If you're smart enough, talented enough, and more important, hard-working enough, the degree will pay off handsomely, even if it's an English degree, a philosophy degree, and MFA, or whatever. Whatever the degree, most who get it will not be very successful, but the few will who are smart enough, talented enough, and hard-working enough will have a great future doing exactly what they most want to do.

I'd also say don't fall into the common trap of think that a degree is the end of education. A degree is only the beginning. Smart people keep adding to whatever education they already have, sometimes with additional degrees, sometimes through seminars, workshops, or even technical schools, and always through constant home study.

But I would suggest you reconsider journalism. I learned more about creative writing from journalism classes than from all the creative writing classes I had. Journalism is about much more than feature articles. It's also about writing human interest stories, essays, columns, etc., and it's no coincidence that many of our best writers have a background in journalism.

goathunter
11-14-2011, 11:58 PM
QFT
Robert McCammon was driving forklift or some other menial job and wanted to escape.

Actually, after getting a B.A. in Journalism, McCammon worked at a B. Dalton, wrote advertising copy for a Birmingham department store, and worked as a copy editor for a newspaper. He wanted to be a reporter, but was told by his supervisor that he'd never be a reporter. Feeling trapped, he started working on Baal....

(Anyone really interested can read more in this 1989 interview (http://www.robertmccammon.com/interviews/89jan.html).)

Hunter

quicklime
11-15-2011, 01:57 AM
Actually, after getting a B.A. in Journalism, McCammon worked at a B. Dalton, wrote advertising copy for a Birmingham department store, and worked as a copy editor for a newspaper. He wanted to be a reporter, but was told by his supervisor that he'd never be a reporter. Feeling trapped, he started working on Baal....

(Anyone really interested can read more in this 1989 interview (http://www.robertmccammon.com/interviews/89jan.html).)

Hunter


:-( I stand corrected on McCammon then; got my wires crossed someplace.

in any event, while a lot of writers do have english degrees, a lot also do not. So if english is the degree for you (OP) by all means, get it, but if not, get something else and you can absolutely still write......

The Lonely One
11-15-2011, 02:09 AM
Find something you love to do, and get a degree in whatever that is.

Degrees are important, but no one hires a degree. Employers hire people, and show me ten people with the same degree, and I'll show you ten people who are not equal in the money they make, the happiness they've found, or their future prospects.

I don't care which degree you hold, many people out there are making a very good living with that degree, even if many others fail miserably with it.

Cream rises to the top, sediment falls to the bottom, and plain old milk fills the middle, and you can shake any degree you want at the vat, but the cream still floats, and the sediment still sinks to the bottom.

If you're smarter, more talented, and harder working than those around you, you'll be the cream. If you aren't as smart, aren't as talented, aren't as hard working as those around you, you'll sink to the bottom. It's as simple as that.

They say an English degree is one of the worst you can get, if you want a well-paid trip through life, and for the average person, this is true. But the writing world is filled with extremely rich writers who hold only an English degree. So are many other areas.

Smart, talented, hard-working people succeed, and they succeed in any field, with any degree. Or without a degree. I have a friend whose dad died when my friend was just seventeen. My friend inherited abut ten acres of land. He now owns two thousand acres, and has something over seven million in the bank. He managed this without any degree, and without any help, other than being very smart, very talented, and extremely hard-working.

Truthfully, most people need a degree just for the job it will get them. For these people, the job still won't be great, they still won't get rich, and they still won't be very happy, but they may be able to retire with enough money to pay the bills each month, and to take a two week vacation each year. If you think you;re one of these people, then choose a degree because it will probably mean steady employment.

If you aren't one of these people, then choose a degree because it's what you love doing. If you're smart enough, talented enough, and more important, hard-working enough, the degree will pay off handsomely, even if it's an English degree, a philosophy degree, and MFA, or whatever. Whatever the degree, most who get it will not be very successful, but the few will who are smart enough, talented enough, and hard-working enough will have a great future doing exactly what they most want to do.

I'd also say don't fall into the common trap of think that a degree is the end of education. A degree is only the beginning. Smart people keep adding to whatever education they already have, sometimes with additional degrees, sometimes through seminars, workshops, or even technical schools, and always through constant home study.

But I would suggest you reconsider journalism. I learned more about creative writing from journalism classes than from all the creative writing classes I had. Journalism is about much more than feature articles. It's also about writing human interest stories, essays, columns, etc., and it's no coincidence that many of our best writers have a background in journalism.

First I want to make a pun to quicklime about his comment using the words "absolutely" and "write" in the same sentence on this forum. It's okay if you don't laugh.

And to James as per usual you're making some spot on and diversifying comments that do a good job at breaking up the dichotomy usually presented about degree/non-degree.

I also very much agree about your journalism/writing comment. After several years I just became very disenfranchised with newspaper writing as being heavily cutthroat as in "if it bleeds it leads," being ultimately intrusive and disrespectful to fuck over competition and just not the field for me. Of course you can write nice features or government stories or sports or education...you don't have to be a police writer but by the end of it my heart just couldn't take the industry any longer, no matter the beat.

The one thing that I can say unequivocally is that I was publishing and writing FICTION at the peak of my ability while I was a journalist. Words just crawl out from under your fingertips when you're writing 2-3 articles a day.

Medievalist
11-15-2011, 02:43 AM
I am going to apply for an MFA next fall. Now, MFAs are difficult, cost a lot, and about the only career opportunity for you out there is Stephanie Meyer or University Professor, it seems.

Please keep in mind that the likely of becoming a tenured prof on the strength of an M.F.A. are, well, minuscule. M.F.A.s in tenure track jobs are there because of their publications and awards, rather than the degree. Please don't think of it as a line to tenure.

The Lonely One
11-15-2011, 02:52 AM
Please keep in mind that the likely of becoming a tenured prof on the strength of an M.F.A. are, well, minuscule. M.F.A.s in tenure track jobs are there because of their publications and awards, rather than the degree. Please don't think of it as a line to tenure.

Right, totally get that. I think I posted somewhere in that post or another after that tenure jobs are less likely for MFAs not only from the things you stated but grad students who are teaching at USF have been telling me it's much more useful to have ret/comp doctorate or something like that. I know MFA is a non-continuing degree (Dr equivalent) but it also isn't a guaranteed job at a good university.

Like you said, an MFA =/= tenure. And its strength like many other degrees continues to weaken, from what I understand, given the current job market and economic crisis, at least in the states.

Medievalist
11-15-2011, 02:53 AM
They say an English degree is one of the worst you can get, if you want a well-paid trip through life, and for the average person, this is true. But the writing world is filled with extremely rich writers who hold only an English degree. So are many other areas.

I want to point out that the OP is not talking about a B.A. in English but a B.A. in Creative Writing.

These are absolutely Not the Same Thing.

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 05:20 AM
I think I may be in the wrong section for this. If so, mods, please feel free to move it. I see what I'm about to ask as more a question than anything.

So... hello everyone. I'm Kody Boye. I'm a fiction writer and, also, a community college student, one with no focus or projected career goal at that. My current major in college is... guess... 'General Studies.' To say I'm not happy with that would be an understatement, and though I've had many a discussion with people recommending different fields of study for me to get a degree in (Journalism, English, History, etc.,) I've got a bit of a conundrum. Basically put, the three I've mentioned above just don't do much for me. There's no spark, no interest, no... heart, I guess you could say. I don't want to be one of those people who get a degree just to have it for job purposes and then be stuck in a miserable position. I know what I want to do with myself--write--and while I wholeheartedly believe I have the potential to make a career for myself with my writing, as I've somewhat developed one now, I'm trying to figure out if studying creative writing as a whole would benefit me, as I'm well aware that a very low percentage of writers actually make enough money to sustain themselves financially through their craft.

A few things I should probably point out before this article goes any further:

- I've been of the opinion for a while now that studying creative writing would be useless because I know the mechanics of writing, story-structuring, that sort of thing, etc. from some six years of critiquing from groups and editors, so this is a major concern for me. This is something I've been reconsidering for a while, especially since the idea struck me that I could possibly teach it if I actually decided to get a degree in the field.

- I've been worried about the old stigma of the 'arts' schooling--meaning that studying the arts will kill your desire to actually do it.

- I've also been concerned about studying creative writing as a career because I don't know if teaching it would be beneficial to me as a person (meaning I could live off it, happily, without worry, etc.)

Now... my current idea for next semester is to do what I've been planning on doing all along: sign up for three classes, but make one of them be creative writing. My secondary plan, once school starts up again, is to scope out the curriculum, see just what is taught, and choose to either stay or run based on what I see.

My main question for the forum is this: Have any of you studied creative writing? If so, how was it? And if those of you who've studied it managed to keep with it, have you received your degree and are you making progress in your life with it? (i.e, teaching, having a stable income, not being homeless and hanging out, scraggly-bearded and stinky-clothed, at the Jack in the Box at odd hours of the morning, that sort of thing.)

I know the creative writing field of study has a thing against genre writers (that much I'm already aware of.) I've had recommendations mostly to 'fake it,' per se, if attending said classes, by using my duality of writing both genre and contemporary/literary fiction to my advantage and therefor disassociating myself from genre whilst attending school. While I do think I could do that without potentially scaring myself, I'm a bit wary, as you all may have already figured out.

I'd appreciate any and all feedback you all could offer.

Thanks,

- Kody

I could get some flack for this, but whatever. I did exactly what you're talking about. I got my BS in psychology AND business, because I thought both led to good jobs and together to a better one. I wanted to do creative writing, but job opportunity called. Biggest mistake to be honest. Those degrees led me nowhere...with the economy etc. people laugh at a double BS...they say I can hire an MBA for the same amount I'm going to pay you! It seems counter-productive, but I would go for at least a minor in creative writing. It can be used for anything honestly.
I regret not going for mine, even worse after I got my BS, I then went for a MA in rehab counseling for the jobs. HATED IT, couldn't bear it anymore. So I left that and am pursuing a masters in creative writing at Harvard and I love it!

Follow your dreams and heart...cheesy and counter-productive? Yes, but its better than regretting it your whole life. And everyone hating their job is malarky. Plenty of people love/enjoy their job...they go for what makes them happy!

Layla Nahar
11-15-2011, 06:00 AM
Hi Kody,

I envy people of your generation for a lot of things, but job prospects sure ent one of them.

First, if you are having a hard time getting clarity on what kind of degree to get, I highly recommend forgoing it till you are ready. I went when I was 24 & finished in the expected 4 years.

Also, there is a tendency today to treat a four-year university education as a trade school. But the university is for your mind. It was originally intended for monks and was about being learned.

I hope you can get some clarity about what you would like to do to make money. IMO a job is a highly over-rated way to make money. IMO (really feeling the need for a disclaimer here) it makes you dependent and takes away your freedom. The one thing it has going for it is that it is less risky than being self employed.

I think that you said in one of your responses that going to live back at home would be bad for you. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'll guess that your trouble getting clarity is related to the situation that makes going home sound like a bad idea. I'd like to recommend "The Artist's Way" to you. A lot of people poo-poo it for being new-age nonsense, and it doesn't help that the author looks like a cosmetics sales-lady. The book is written for people who abandoned their creative side in order to become responsible adults. It offers a lot of ways to find that creative part again. You seem to be headed for that choice, rather than past it, but I imagine it could help you to get a more solid footing with some of the things that will make the 'what should I do with my life?' question a little easier to answer.

best wishes :)
LN

KodyBoye
11-15-2011, 01:26 PM
Thank you all for your advice, input and suggestions. It really means a lot to me.

I should probably clarify that a lot of my frustration from the past three weeks - one month has been due to the fact that I've been incredibly ill with bronchitis or something similar. All I've been doing as of late is schoolwork and sleeping. It's literally 'no life' for me, and while there's probably a good majority of people who would say that school equals 'no life,' I'm not really of the opinion that it should be that way.

At the current point in time, I'm going to see how things roll out within the next few weeks and make my decision. Maybe I'll take one less class. I dunno. I seemed to be doing much better when I only had two on my plate (then again, I did take an eight week course, so that doesn't help me much.)

The Lonely One
11-15-2011, 06:25 PM
I want to point out that the OP is not talking about a B.A. in English but a B.A. in Creative Writing.

These are absolutely Not the Same Thing.

They aren't? I mean, I get that they aren't exactly the same, but Creative Writing is more generally an English degree (a focus of). I think depending on the job I was going for I would lie and say I had a "degree in English" on my resume, since it's more just a twist of words and isn't totally untrue.

But me and the Lit major take at least half of the same classes. I don't have to read Chaucer in undergrad, thank God, but I have enough reading done to comparably grasp the history of English Literature.

To me the differences in our (lit/creative) educations are negligible except that I take creative writing workshop classes and they take more lit classes.

Figure we're both privy to the same jobs unless you mean English education or something. Or am I off-base? I figure the common employer wouldn't put so much emphasis on the focus of the degree, if it really just requires proficiency with words.

Terie
11-15-2011, 06:34 PM
I think depending on the job I was going for I would lie and say I had a "degree in English" on my resume, since it's more just a twist of words and isn't totally untrue.

Lying on a job application? NEVER a good idea.

The differences might seem negligible, and might even be negligible. And if so, why lie? There should be no need to lie, if there's so little difference between English and Creative Writing degrees. And it isn't hard to confirm what someone earned their degree in.

Lying on a job app or resume/CV is, at most companies, a terminable offense. They won't care that 'English isn't much different from Creative Writing'. They'll only care that you lied.

The Lonely One
11-15-2011, 06:37 PM
Thank you all for your advice, input and suggestions. It really means a lot to me.

I should probably clarify that a lot of my frustration from the past three weeks - one month has been due to the fact that I've been incredibly ill with bronchitis or something similar. All I've been doing as of late is schoolwork and sleeping. It's literally 'no life' for me, and while there's probably a good majority of people who would say that school equals 'no life,' I'm not really of the opinion that it should be that way.

At the current point in time, I'm going to see how things roll out within the next few weeks and make my decision. Maybe I'll take one less class. I dunno. I seemed to be doing much better when I only had two on my plate (then again, I did take an eight week course, so that doesn't help me much.)

Dude, I've taken 2-3 classes every semester since I started college. Worked full time and took night classes. Been in undergrad an amount of years I won't reveal because it's just sad. You can buy into college and its benefits and still do it your way (meaning less than full-time).

And I know things can seem down, I've had my share of that. But it does get better and I think for me, when it did, I would have really missed college.

Don't do school if it isn't right for you but I would give it the benefit of time.

The Lonely One
11-15-2011, 06:40 PM
Lying on a job application? NEVER a good idea.

The differences might seem negligible, and might even be negligible. And if so, why lie? There should be no need to lie, if there's so little difference between English and Creative Writing degrees. And it isn't hard to confirm what someone earned their degree in.

Lying on a job app or resume/CV is, at most companies, a terminable offense. They won't care that 'English isn't much different from Creative Writing'. They'll only care that you lied.

The thing is...it isn't even a lie, in my view. I think I used poor wording there. To me, they are one in the same. It just sounds better, I'd think, in some instances (non-University/professor jobs that just want you to have writing skill, like an office setting) to say "earned a degree in English" which is absolutely not a lie, it's just a generalization to avoid any bias against the "creative" bit from an employer.

I think everyone tailors their resume to look better. I'm not advocating adding made-up facts to your portfolio.

Note: I wouldn't say "earned a degree in English Literature" or "earned a degree in English education" which certainly would not be true.

To me the difference is these are concentrations and actually English education is its own degree at my school, not a part of the English department. By comparison, I think my degree is actually called something like Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing: English. I would just think you look better to some business markets leaving out the creative writing bit.

Then again maybe I'm wrong. Maybe business markets want creative writers. What do I know. I washed out of journalism and have been in school for too many years. It's just my inclination to show employers the things they want to see without actually fabricating facts.

JSSchley
11-15-2011, 07:14 PM
Re: how it's reported: It depends on the structure of the CW degree. At the university I went to, the CW degree was a subconcentration within English--basically, all the time in your English degree when everyone else was taking interesting electives like "Modern Children's Literature" and "Science Fiction throughout history," you were in a workshop having your butt handed to you on a platter. But everyone took the courses in literary canon and literary history and criticism, so we all had B.A.s in English. (Actually, I took a class on History of English Language to fulfill a requirement and wound up dropping out of CW to write a linguistics thesis, so I don't have the CW focus on my English degree, either. :))

If your university awards you a B.A. in English with a focus in Creative Writing, then it's fine to say you have a B.A. in English. You should report the degree that winds up on your transcript.

As to the job market, I will counter one bit of advice you've gotten. I have found, watching my friends in the last ten years since we've left our undergrad days, that assuming that you can't make money doing something you love is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might not make boatloads, and "something you love" might not be exactly the package you were thinking (I went into publishing expecting to be an editor, landed an entry-level secretarial job, and the next thing I knew I was advancing up the accounting ladder, keeping the books and writing contracts and loving every minute of it), but if you hold to the idea that you should like what you do, it's generally, I've found, very possible.

Medievalist
11-15-2011, 10:01 PM
They aren't? I mean, I get that they aren't exactly the same, but Creative Writing is more generally an English degree (a focus of). I think depending on the job I was going for I would lie and say I had a "degree in English" on my resume, since it's more just a twist of words and isn't totally untrue.

1. Don't Ever Lie

2. They aren't at all comparable fields.


But me and the Lit major take at least half of the same classes. I don't have to read Chaucer in undergrad, thank God, but I have enough reading done to comparably grasp the history of English Literature.

Right there, you've demonstrated that they aren't comparable.

And English major would at least have read Chaucer in the Norton—as well as Shakespeare and Milton.

And would have had at least a History of the English Language course, and likely, one on English grammar or linguistics.

And would have at least one serious expository / analytic writing course.


Or am I off-base? I figure the common employer wouldn't put so much emphasis on the focus of the degree, if it really just requires proficiency with words.


You're off base. An English degree isn't exactly highly sought after (no humanities degree is) in the current job market, but there's an assumption that you can write persuasive analytic prose, you can research, and you can argue specifics in a logical and persuasive manner; those assumptions are not going to be made about a creative writing degree.

CrastersBabies
11-16-2011, 01:18 AM
Just an FYI, my BA degree reads:

BA in English Literature - Creative Writing

So, I would put English or Creative Writing on resumes.

As for programs, it depends on the college. Mine was in the vein of "literature." So, it was very lit heavy. I had 3 credit hours less than the lit majors (of lit courses).

In other colleges, it will go under "English" or "English Writing" or even its own "Creative Writing."

It really depends. I've had pals who obtained a degree in creative writing have far less lit-courses and others who have had about the same amount as me.

3 of my required lit courses were from a "list." (i.e. British novel, short story or poetry, American novel, short story or poetry).

Literary Criticism was necessary.

The rest were electives. As much as I love Chaucer and Shakespeare, I did not take either author-centric courses. I did cover Chaucer in medieval lit. and Shakespeare came up in another course.

rainsmom
11-16-2011, 07:53 AM
Is it wrong that I love you for saying that?

You're the first person I've talked to out of dozens of friends who's said anything remotely like this.
<grin> You're welcome.

I'm in my 40s. I have a lot of friends who have utterly useless degrees and who bounced around, both in school and out, until they stumbled onto something that they enjoyed. I'm not sure they would have the luxury to do that anymore, because the economy is a lot, lot harder. I'll also note that a surprising number of them went back to school later, once they figured out what they were interested in.

I *do* see the point others are making. It can be incredibly difficult to go back to school once you've dropped out. But I don't see how anyone can justify racking up student loan debt (and to continue racking up that debt) without having a plan for paying it back. My husband just happened to tell me a story today about a woman who was living in her car because her student loan debt -- which can't be written off with bankruptcy or deferred except in specific circumstances -- was so high that she couldn't pay both loans and rent.

Before you make a momentous decision of any kind, visit a career counselor and just learn about different types of jobs. I had never heard of the job I have now when I went through school. Maybe if you find out more possibilities, you can find something that actually sounds interesting.

KodyBoye
11-17-2011, 10:46 AM
I decided that I'm going to take the math class I need and two English ones (comp 2 and American Literature 1.) I guess I can do my soul searching as I go along. Not too big a problem I guess, right?

quicklime
11-17-2011, 05:14 PM
i think you're better to continue forward momentum while you sort your stuff out, as you are, than to pull out. I have a bias towards a degree, but like to think i would feel the same in any case--it is just always easier to get out than in, so better to stay in until you know for sure if you want to hop out.