If there is one thing I can take away from my three years of college experience as an English major, it would be that there is a huge difference between someone whose focus is on literature and someone who focuses on creative writing.
There is also a vast difference between what you can do after you graduate. Technically you can do whatever you want, but there are certain career paths that seem to stand out for those on the literature track. I've heard of literature people go into publishing, office work, law, journalism and, of course, the always assumed -- teaching.
But for a creative writing person, it can be different. I only know of five people in my track of study, half of them will probably go on to teach, but what about the other half? The half that I fall into?
There are many things I know that I don't want to do. Publishing is out -- it's too corporate and too much marketing for me. I never really wanted to teach. I'm not good with kids and the idea of standing in front of 20-plus people lecturing scares the daylights out of me. I played around with the idea of being a librarian, but just couldn't see myself doing it for the rest of my life.
What I do know is that I want to write.
I was published professionally for the first time last spring byHeater Magazine and that changed a lot of things for me. It showed me that my writing and creativity are good enough (after some major editing and guidance) at 19 to be published and that it is, in fact, possible to have your writing published. It isn't a one in a million shot that I've heard my entire life from many people.
I had a creative writing teacher in high school tell our creative writing class that out of the 20 of us, five of us would go on to write a completed novel and that one of us would be published. Those were much better odds than one in a million, so I decided to listen to that instead and I think it might have worked.
It's not impossible to be a writer if you really, really try and work hard at making it a reality.
I also had the pleasure of sitting for a three-hour lunch with a theater critic on a recent trip to London and realized that writing reviews is an option that I never thought of before and it makes me think of this very fitting quote from "The Dead Poets Society,"
"...that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"
My verse, will be that of a writer.