The Struggles Of An English Major

The Struggles Of An English Major

Even when we hate it, we love it.

Like most English majors, I chose the subject because it is what I'm good at and what I'm passionate about. Since beginning my studies, I have already gotten a taste of the worlds of literature, journalism, and editing. An English degree is a multifaceted tool to have, and it gives you the option of various career paths. I have never doubted my choice for a second, but there have certainly been times where the countless projects, essays, and readings have almost gotten the better of me. Here is a list of struggles I think all English majors will be able to relate to.

Pleasure reading is no longer an option.

Despite the fact that pleasure reading is how most of us discovered our love for English, it is unfortunately something we barely have time for now that we are students. When you have to read 100+ pages for more than one class each week, the occasional Cosmopolitan article is the extent of pleasure reading you have time for.

The work we do outside of class

It's safe to bet that class assignments are not the only writing we do. Most English majors have multiple pieces they are working on outside of their course load, like regularly writing for student newspapers, blogs, or online publications. This means we are not only under the pressure of our academic deadlines, but other weekly deadlines as well.

The need to take full advantage of random bursts of inspiration

I'll let you in on a secret -- I wrote most of this article during an afternoon class. If you see me furiously scribbling in a notebook during class, as much as I'd like to say I am taking notes, it's more likely that I'm jotting down ideas for a story. Sometimes the ideas just don't come to us for days at a time, and sometimes when they finally do, it's when we're totally zoned out at a lecture.

We regularly edit our friends' papers.

We will always be the go-to friend when there's a paper that needs editing. Perfectionism is part of the job description-- we literally take classes on how to read manuscripts, edit for punctuation and grammar, and give writers constructive feedback. We really don't mind this much, either-- Sometimes reading someone else's paper is a welcomed break from re-reading our own work for what feels like the thousandth time.

Our laptops are almost physically attached to us.

English majors are arguably the most technology dependent group of college students. For one, all of our projects and writings are saved here. Just the thought of losing those sends us into borderline hysteria. Because news and journalism is such a huge part of our lives, social media is another obsession of ours. It is how we attempt to stay up to date on current events everyday. Basically what I'm trying to say is if you try to take away our laptops, expect us to put up a fight.

We don't just specialize in English.

We as English majors wear many hats, and have full belief in our skills in all subjects, not just English. Need your dreams analyzed? An English major's got you. I mean, we have studied the psychological approach, after all. We're basically psychology majors too. We are also knowledgable in the areas of history and different cultures. You don't just read To Kill a Mockingbird and various Shakespearian works without at least a little historical background. But don't worry, the one thing we won't even pretend we can do is math.

Being asked what we are doing with our degrees

We'll have you know, it is not a pointless degree, and no, we're not going into teaching. English is the degree for many important jobs in today's world, including journalism, publishing, and public relations. Although it may take some of us more time than others to find our place, we all eventually discover where we professionally belong with our English degree in hand.

The best and the worst part of being an English major is that as soon as we finish reading or writing one piece, it's time to work on another one. As tiring and frustrating as it can sometimes be living the weekly grind of an English major, it's our passion for a reason, and we could never picture ourselves in any other area.

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This EDM Entrepreneur Is Taking Over The Indianapolis Music Scene

New weekly EDM night is coming to Blu Lounge in Indianapolis

Bailey Ploughe wears a floral bucket hat and carries a camera around the bar, you might see him in a tie-dye shirt or even behind the stage. A Cameron Crowe attitude, at first glance, you might think this guy is just another EDM fan. But then you'll notice the strobe light in his eyes.

"Music has always been a passion for me, and I've always wanted to be involved in the music scene."

Photographer, videographer, DJ, promoter, producer, event coordinator, and even mattress store manager; Bailey has a lot to add to his resume. He owns Big Picture Photography as well as New Hippies Entertainment. And even with all of this, Bailey still has many goals and dreams left to fill.

"One of my life goals is to become a touring concert photographer with a big name EDM artist. So I started coordinating and promoting shows a couple of years ago so I could start building a portfolio of concert photography."

From booking and promoting shows, Bailey cut his teeth in the music industry. Bailey began hosting shows and parties with his friends, which were local DJs and musicians. This allowed Bailey to practice his show photography skills while also making a name for himself in the music scene and offering exposure to the artists.

"At this point in life it has turned into something bigger than helping me as a photographer, I am now pursing careers in promoting and as a musician."

What does Bailey Ploughe have planned next in the scene? Blursdays.

The weekly Thursday EDM event, Blursdays, will take place at Blu Lounge on Meridian Street in downtwon Indianapolis. New Hippies Entertainment teams up with Butler U EDM club to create this night of underground music. You can expect to hear house, dubstep, trap, and even drum and bass. The first week will have free entry and will include local DJs; Not Alex, Adi Mag, Ejion, BAI, and Luso.

Bailey's love for music drives his career but also gives him a chance to support others and encourage others in the creative industry.

"I want to help the local art community, I've started doing 'Creative of the Week' post on my New Hippies Entertainment Facebook page. I'll do an interview on any type of creative and then post 2-5 different posts about that creative throughout the week."

He is also in the works of planning an event to raise money for local high school art departments.

With entrepreneurs like Bailey Ploughe, the Indianapolis EDM scene continues to grow.

"I personally think that we have amazing talent in Indiana. We also have two amazing promotional companies in Indianapolis that bring big names out! Shout out to Indy Mojo and KID Presents!'

The first Blursday will be Thursday, March 29, at Blu Lounge in Indianapolis. Music starts at 9 p.m.

Cover Image Credit: Big Picture Photography

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23 Questions With 'Not Her Daughter' Debut Author Rea Frey

Interview with author of Power Vegan, The Cheat Sheet and other lifestyle books.

I had the honor of picking Rea Frey's mind about her debut novel, "Not Her Daughter," reading and other opinions. If the name sound familiar it's because she is the same author of "Power Vegan," "The Cheat Sheet" and other lifestyle books. The first couple of questions are personal give insight to Ms. Frey's motivations and background. Then we moved on to questions about the new book and reading in general.

1. What first inspired you to write?

"My father. He taught me to read and had at least 30 notebooks full of handwritten poetry strewn around the house. As soon as I could read, I always had a book in my hand. (I even had my own card catalog system in our pantry, which moonlighted as my library.) I loved getting lost in stories. I remember a poem my dad and I wrote together when I was in the third grade called "Soapsuds." It won a writing competition, and I realized that not only did I love writing, but I loved the way it could make people feel. I kept up with poetry, journal writing, letter writing and later, turned to stories."

2. Have you always wanted to write? If not, what did you want to do?

'I’ve pretty much always had two loves: writing and fitness. I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast when I was little. Then it was an Olympic sprinter. Then an Olympic boxer (before female boxing was an Olympic sport). Then a librarian. Then a veterinarian. Then an astronaut. Then a writer. I parlayed my love of health and wellness into writing as I got older in the form of nonfiction books, journalism and magazine writing, but those two “subjects” always fought for the most space in my life. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever done, however, that has felt completely effortless. (But that’s probably because I’ve had well over three decades of 'practicing' it daily.)"

3. What is your favorite genre?

"It used to be literary fiction, then women’s contemporary fiction, then nonfiction and the last few years, I’ve enjoyed domestic suspense, especially since I’m now in that genre."

4. Favorite childhood book?

"The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein"

5. What are your favorite books or authors now?

"Such a hard question! Some of my faves include: 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 'The Mouse and the Motorcycle,' 'Dubliners,' 'Wuthering Heights,' 'The Grapes of Wrath,' 'The Color Purple,' 'Middlemarch,' '11/22/63,' 'The Power of Intention,' 'Happiness for Beginners,' 'A Moveable Feast,' 'Underworld,' 'The Secret History,' 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,' 'House of Mirth…' the list could go on."

6. What’s something you think readers should know about you or your writing?

"I’m a very fast writer. I’ve never spent five years with one story…I just feel like it would change too much. Every time I go back to a story, I want to edit, so the drafts I put out are actually quite raw (which can be both good and bad)."

7. Preferred working conditions?

"Coffee, Billie Holiday, morning, staring out a window. Repeat."

8. They say writing reveals more about the author. Do you agree? What does your work reveal about you?

"I love that question. When I first started writing fiction in college, there were so many parallels with my own life. Write what you know, right? But for "Not Her Daughter;" I wanted to write what I feel. I took a concept I was familiar with — parenting — and applied it to a situation I was unfamiliar with, like kidnapping a child. While I am nowhere in this novel, I’m also everywhere.

"I recognize myself in Sarah, in Emma, in Amy. While this book is about absent mothers, my mother was always there for me (and still is), so it was interesting to take a deep dive into backgrounds I wasn’t familiar with and imagine the outcomes of not having a dependable mother. What effect does that leave on a child? I think one of my strong suits as a writer is to garner empathy from even the most unlikeable characters. We are all layered and complex. I think that’s what readers will learn the most about me. I’m an open book, and I often notice details that link us all together— and they aren’t always the “prettiest” parts of humanity."

9. What are your goals as a writer?

"You read all the statistics about the sell-through rate of a book, and it’s grim. But then you also look at how improbable it is to get an agent and a book deal, and I believed that I could do it, and I did. I want this book to be a bestseller, sure. But more than that, I want to establish a longstanding career and build up a rich, wonderful readership of people who will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. It’s all about the readers."

10. What did you learn from joining a writer’s group?

"Before I returned to fiction, I was kind of intimidated by writers’ groups. However, after I’d just hammered out my first draft for "Not Her Daughter," I stumbled into a wonderful local writers group. I feel like they’ve been here every step of the way, from landing the agent to the pitching process to revisions to the book deal and countdown to publication. I think you learn so much from objective readers and talented writers."

11. Any advice for amateur authors?

"Read. Read as much as you possibly can. Then read 'Story Genius' by Lisa Cron. You’ll soon realize everything we’ve been taught about writing a story is wrong. Then read what you love to write. Study how other authors do it. See what books are successful, what people buy, what composes a 'good' book to you. Build up your author platform (sounds irrelevant, but it’s not). Finish the d*mn book. Whatever you are writing, finish it FIRST and then have a few trusted readers give you feedback. But not too many.

"When your book is done and you’re ready to query agents, ask other writers for help. (I’m always here to help new writers.) Go to the bookstore, find books in your genre and check out the acknowledgments page. See what agent they thank and jot that name down. Research those agents at home. Look at their author lists. Know how to write a good query letter. (Or again, research or ask for help.) And then send that bad boy into the world and start working on something else."

12. How was it to write a novel in a month?

"It was so much fun! I always say that this book wrote me. It was kind of an out-of-body experience because I wasn’t thinking about next steps or even getting it right. I just wanted to get the story out of my head, and I’m so glad I finally sat down to write it. That single month changed my entire life."

13. Can you list all your previous books and where to find them?

"I’ve had four nonfiction books published by various publishers, ranging from Simon & Schuster to Ulysses Press. They are all available in bookstores or online, wherever books are sold:

'The Cheat Sheet: A Clue-by-Clue Guide to Finding Out if He’s Unfaithful, 'Power Vegan: Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness,' 'Detox Before You’re Expecting: A Cleansing Program to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy' and 'Living the Mediterranean Diet: Proven Principles & Modern Recipes for Staying Healthy'

14. What is your new book Not Her Daughter about?

"It’s a domestic suspense about a woman who kidnaps a five-year-old to save her from her mother."

15. Where can readers pre-order?

"Anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, etc."

16. How do you think your book stands out from other novels?

"I think I’m taking a common theme, like kidnapping, and reversing it. Is kidnapping still wrong if you’re doing it for a good reason? I think the domestic suspense genre has risen quickly, and I think NHD strikes a good balance between emotion and suspense. At the end of the day, this book is about relationships and sacrifice, which we can all relate to— but spinning the plot to have it revolve around a kidnapping is a different way to approach something universal, like motherhood."

17. You write nonfiction. What would you say to people who stereotype nonfiction as boring?

"Depends on what you’re reading! I absolutely love nonfiction because it’s actionable. I reach for books that will teach me something. As much as I love getting lost in a novel, the most 'changes' in my life have come after reading a really powerful nonfiction book. Anything by Pam Grout, Lisa Cron’s 'Story Genius,' and Greg McKeown’s 'Essentialism' have utterly shifted the way I approach work, time management and my outlook on life."

18. What gave you the idea for this book?

"I’ve always been obsessed with the subject of motherhood. What makes a good mother? What makes a bad mother? Why are we so connected and loyal to our mothers, even when they disappoint us? While I never planned on becoming a mother, I did, and I have learned such invaluable lessons. I’ve swiftly realized that my daughter knows me better than anyone, because she’s seen the absolute best parts of me and also the ugliest parts. Who else can you say that about in your life? That one human has seen all of you, for better or worse?

"On a business trip, I witnessed this horrible exchange between this adorable little girl and her mother, and I couldn’t get that little girl out of my head for weeks. It gave me the 'reverse kidnapping' idea, because we’ve all seen parents mistreating children in public and thought, 'God, I wish I could rescue that kid right now.' I wanted to take a character who wasn’t a mother (and can’t possibly understand the daily grind of motherhood) and have her kidnap someone else’s child with the hope of saving her…It brought up all of these moral dilemmas, not to mention if she could get away with it in this technologically advanced age."

19. How would you encourage non-readers to read?

"Reading is one of the most important things we can do. Years ago, I volunteered with a literacy council here in Nashville to teach adults to read. Trying to explain our difficult language and all of its rules to someone who had lived over 40 years without reading was difficult. But it made me realize one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves and our children is the gift of literacy. If you don’t like reading, you probably just haven’t found the 'thing' you like to read.

With all of the influx of information through our phones and computers, reading a book not only gives our eyes a break, it allows our minds to focus on one thing. While we are able to multitask, we aren’t able to multi-focus. Reading forces you to focus on what you’re doing. Make reading luxurious. Take a bath, have a glass of wine and find something you really love. One quick tip anyone can try is instead of reaching for your phone in the morning, take five minutes and read something instead. Poetry. The newspaper. Classic literature. It changes the entire tone of your day."

20. What other projects are you working on?

"I’m on my second round of edits for my second book and about 115 pages into the third. For my 'day job,' I’m the editorial director for a branding agency called SimplyBe, and we are launching a book proposal division that I will be leading. I write nonfiction book proposals for top-level clients and try to land them agents or book deals, so it’s fun to take what I’ve learned in this industry and apply it to help others!'

21. When should we expect another book?

"I have a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press, so the next book will be published August 2019. If all goes well, I hope to be on a book-a-year trajectory."

22. Will this book be a series or a stand alone?

"This is a stand-alone book. However, in the original draft, I wrote it with the intention of having a sequel to find out what happens to Emma. When the book went to auction, one publisher wanted the sequel and for "Not Her Daughter" to be a lead title and a hardback book. The other wanted a stand-alone book, trade paperback (because it’s easier to sell), etc. Though I wanted to write the sequel and have the book be hardback, I went with the other publisher because I really connected with the editor. But who knows? If people really love the book and want to see what happens years down the road to these characters, I would love to reconnect with Sarah, Emma and Amy. I miss them already."

23. Do you have a message you want to tell people in the book community?

"Besides to pre-order my book? (I kid, I kid.) A book’s success depends on its readers. While a writer does the work, none of it matters if people don’t buy and read the book. I’m in a debut author’s group on FB, and one thing seems universal: bad reviews. There’s nothing wrong with a bad review, but I would say this to readers and reviewers everywhere: before you slam a book, think about how that review will affect an author (or you, if you were in their shoes).

"You wouldn’t believe how MUCH a one-star review shifts not only the ratings, but the overall morale of the writer or how it deters others from reading and possibly enjoying that book. Not that all reviews should be glowing, of course. This is simply the book business. I am already steeling myself for those who won’t like the book or think the plot is improbable or are appalled by kidnapping, and that’s OK. No one book is universally loved. But just think before you review.

"If you don’t like a book, maybe offer some constructive feedback to the author, because we are definitely listening! Also, sharing the word about a book you love and being willing to pre-order or share on social channels makes all the difference. Writers can’t have a career without readers’ support. It all starts with a strong book community!"

24. What social media can readers find you on?

"Instagram: @reafrey

Facebook: Rea Frey

Twitter: @ReaFrey_Author.

I hope you got some new books to add to your TBR list and will take advantage of National Reading Month. The release date is Aug. 21, so pre-order her book today!

Cover Image Credit: vibetribe

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