Whoa, this whole blogging thing still isn't going well for me. It's been more than a month since my last blog post. What have I been up to since then? Not much in the writerly sense of things. My last post was before O'Week at my uni. I just about worked myself to death that week. But running the stall for the Deakin Writers Club was amazing. We got heaps of sign ups and handed out a lot of the O'Week edition of WORDLY. Speaking of: check it out online! We're having some trouble with this online version though--it seems that a few (really good!) pieces towards the end have disappeared for some viewers (though strangely not all) and we aren't sure why this is, and try as we might we haven't been able to fix it, which has been frustrating. But still, look at it! LOOK AT IT! IT'S SO PRETTY!
I've managed to get together a couple of Deakin Writers Club events. Our first one was 'Lit-Mag Madness!' a couple of weeks into the Trimester, and it went really well! Especially considering I was winging it ... I organised it really last minute, and didn't put out notice for it until three days before it was scheduled ... somehow still ended up with thirty-ish people! It was great. One of the other Deakin Writers executives and I brought along our collection of literary magazines to show off and the whole point of the event was to show the members that there was an abundance of opportunities for them to get their work out there--they just had to know where to look. So I sat there talking at them for 5-10 minutes, just explaining some of the main ones we were showing off ... and then I decided they had to eat the food I brought them and socialise, so I told them to stand up, move around, talk to people and read some lit mags. Never in my life did I think it would work. I think the other executive's threat of making them play an awkward icebreaker game if they didn't start socialising might have given them that extra push, but still! Nek minet, all the writers socialising and talking! It was beautiful! Anyway, it was really fun and I talked to heaps of the members and I think people had a good time--at the very least, they enjoyed the free food, and the TimTams were the first thing to go, so I'll need to bring more of them next time.
I suppose I'll share here a couple of the things I showed the members at the event. First, there's this one page on the Australian Society of Authors website with a list of Australian journals and magazines they could submit to, and links to their information pages: Journals and Magazines.
I also shamelessly advertisedVerandah Journal, which is the other magazine I'm on the editing team for, and you guys can submit to this one too, so check it out!
And then one of my lovely editors suggested we should put on a bit of writer-relevant music, which I can't remember whether or not I've shared here before, but here it is anyway. I quite enjoyed it:
That aside, I managed to get another event underway. Deakin Writers joined forces with Deakin TV club to host a script writing class, which we'll be following up with a script writing workshop after the Easter break. The only problem was that when I agreed with the DTV executive team on a date, I didn't have my week planner on me (because I'm an idiot who constantly leaves it at home), so I was relying on the fact that I know my class timetable off by heart and my work rosters get emailed to me. What I didn't take into account was that I'd been given an extra shift after the rosters came out, so a couple of days before the event, I looked at my week planner and realised I was working at the same time this script writing workshop was meant to be happening. Very devastating. We were able to continue running it even though I wasn't going to be there, but I felt so bad for suddenly ditching the team! Note to self: bring week planner, ALWAYS!
Luckily for me, there was leftover pizza from the event, and the other Deakin Writers executive who worked on the event was waiting for me after work with a box. What a gem. Bloody legend. She even saved me some garlic bread. This is friendship.
I've done no writing or editing for myself since before the summer holidays end, which I hope to rectify shortly, as we are going on our mid-trimester break next week. I still have work and I still have assignments, but hopefully I'll find time to get something written for the next edition of WORDLY. The theme is 'Freedom of Expression' and I'm really looking forward to all of it because we're working in partnership with Querelle, which is being published by Deakin students this year too! While the Querelle audience will be the queer-identifying community, WORDLY's will be broader, but we're sharing the same theme and the idea is to create some hype for them, especially among the Deakin students. They're great to work with, especially considering half of their editorial committee are either current or previous WORDLY editors, so we already know each other and find it easy to communicate. I'm hoping to contribute to Querelle this year as well, but first I must figure out what to write and then I must find time to write it! HOPEFULLY THESE TWO THINGS WILL HAPPEN THIS WEEK!
In other news, I'm not going to bother touching WALLS until the mid-year break. I don't have time to work consistently on any large projects at the moment and frankly I might actually die if I try to do anymore work at this point (and I haven't even CONSIDERED my assignments yet!). My plan for mid-year break is to dedicate every spare moment I have to editing and rewriting WALLS and then I'll be seeking a beta reader or two (probably people from my course at uni) to look at it over Trimester 2. If all goes according to plan, hopefully they'll have finished looking at it for me by the end of T2 and then I'll have the summer to incorporate whatever edits and suggestions they make and then I'll be able to consider what the next step I'm going to take is. Hopefully, the next step will be sending it to a professional of some description: either a professional manuscript evaluation person from Writers Victoria, or to a literary agent, depending on where I feel the novel is at. And of course, I'll be attempting to do NaNoWriMo again come November. I know that's quite a while ahead, but looking ahead to where I want to be is the only way for me to get through the slush-pile of work and study that I'm stuck in right now. I miss writing and I know I can't make sufficient time for it until then, so I'll patiently look forward to it instead.
That's all for now. I'll try to be a little more blog-active over the next week for mid-trimester break. Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and Happy International Chocolate Indulgence Day to everybody else. :)
Whoa, it's been quite a while! I haven't blogged since the very start of December and a lot has happened since then!
'What constitutes a lot?' you may ask.
Well, for starters, I was suddenly thrown into full-time work in December, which was a good experience both for my resume and my bank account. The best part of this was that it was editing--yay for industry experience! The not-so-great part of it was staring at an Excel spreadsheet for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This job was, you guessed it, through the uni, just like all my other jobs, because for one reason or another, apparently I'm super employable. What was I editing? Deakin University has teamed up with IBM to develop this thing called Watson, which is basically this program that we have taught to answer Deakin-related questions by getting all all the cohorts in the university to compile a list of questions they get (in all the different ways they can be asked) and then making a whole bunch of answers. So I was first of all helping the customer service team answer their questions and then spent a couple of weeks after that helping to make sure all the answers from everywhere were written properly and in a certain way. This program has now been launched so that new students can use it to get information about Deakin.
So I was doing that until just before Christmas, and then a couple of days before Christmas, my best friend from high school and I went for a bit of a road-trip. Well, two hours isn't that far to travel, but the point is we drove from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to Torquay for an afternoon and slept in a tent for two nights. Our adventures while we were in Torquay included eating fish and chips on the beach, taking many silly photos, having very meaningful conversations, cooking breakfast on her little camp stove, going to a spa and getting massages, meeting up with an old high school teacher who had moved to Torquay very suddenly a few years earlier, before we graduated, eating a lot of cheese (we have a severe addiction to brie) and watching The Fault In Our Stars on her laptop. It was a lovely and much needed vacation!
Then Christmas happened. Nuff said. I put on about seven kilos and I'm still working on putting them back off (pants, plz, fit me!). But seriously, Christmas for me is just binge-eating with family. And I have to spend it with two families, so that's two very big meals in one day. Worth it. For Christmas, I got a GPS, which will come in handy next time I try to find my high school friend's house (I've driven to her house twice now and gotten lost both times). I also decided to get the piercing at the top of my ear redone, after it got infected and closed up a few years ago. So far, no infection. I've been taking extra good care of it and I've decided that if there's no sign of an infection after three months, I'm getting another three piercings. Going for the Winry Rockbell look (any FMA fans out there?).
And what's my excuse for not blogging after Christmas? I have been a headless chook. That's my excuse. I took on a big part of the administrative role in the Verandah Journalteam of editors, including secretary, which leaves me writing agendas and taking the minutes for all the team meetings, as well as helping send out emails to potential sponsors and organising the stall we'll be selling our back-issues at (and promoting submissions for the new edition) during Orientation Week at Deakin. The latter task has proved to be quite difficult and stressful.
(Intermission ... for the Attack on Titan fans in my life)
On top of that, I've been producing the O'Week edition of the student magazine WORDLY. Seeing as the entire production team is on summer holidays and people are travelling or taking summer classes or working a lot, on top of the fact that this is probably the hardest edition to get people to submit to because most are too busy soaking up the summer sun to write for us, this one has been a hard one to pull together. This is also the first edition where I am officially editor-in-chief and production manager without last year's team right there for back-up (although they did still give us a hand when we asked, because they're awesome). So we've had a lot of tight deadlines to meet this edition, but now we've sent the file to the printer and we'll be receiving our boxes full of WORDLYs on Friday, right on time for O'Week next week.
And then, with WORDLY comes the Deakin Writers Club. Actually, it's the other way around. WORDLY is brought to you by Deakin Writers. But basically, there's been executive team training and organising an O'Week stall (yes, I've organised two O'Week stalls and I will work shifts on both of them). Organising this stall wasn't half as troublesome as organising the Verandah stall--it was basically given to us, because we're a DUSA club. I just had to fill out a form. The stressful part about the Deakin Writers O'Week stuff is putting together membership sign-up packages. These are intended mostly for new members, and contain a back-issue or two from last year as well as the new edition. We're also hoping to include some flyers and stuff from a few Melbourne-based writerly organisations, namely the Emerging Writers' Festival. I'm even making a trip to The Wheeler Centre tomorrow to pick them up from their head office.
I'm also working in the Library one day every week in a permanent position for the year, covering for one of the full-timers there who's returning to study. Once Trimester 1 starts up, I'll also be back in the swing of my Student Rover job. I'll also be back to classes and studying and essay-writing. No creative writing units this Trimester; I've got three philosophy units and a children's literature unit, but I'm sure this Trimester will still be great! Except the Timetable Gods are vengeful--as punishment for managing to fit all of my classes into one day last Trimester of last year, this year I've been forced to spread them over four days. It's still a measly eight hours of class all together, two on each of the days I have to go in. I don't have class on Wednesdays. I do have class on Fridays. In fact, one of my classes was only available on Fridays, which was especially unfortunate for me, because Fridays is the day I'm always rostered on in the library. In order to keep this position, I had to put my hand up for the early shift. So, I'm really NOT a morning person, and I thought starting work at 9AM and working through until 5PM wasn't fantastic ... but the early shift, once Trimester 1 starts, means I start work at 7:30AM and work through until 3PM, at which point I race off to a philosophy seminar for two hours before going home. The shift is actually meant to go until 3:30, but the last half hour is meant for checking emails, making sure everything you were meant to do is done, tidying your desk, submitting your timesheet, etc ... so I spoke to my manager about it and basically I just get half an hour less pay, but that's alright with me if it means I don't have to skip class. Yes, I'm a nerd, what of it?
What else? I've been editing a friend's manuscript on and off. I'm about 50 pages in. It's quite an enjoyable read, when I've actually got time. It's children's literature and I think he's got a really great voice going for him, at least with this particular story. I wish I could read it faster for him. He actually gave it to me back in September and I just never got around to it until New Year rolled around. Hopefully I'll give it back to him this Trimester at uni. I've done bugger-all of my own writing or editing--WALLS has been completely neglected. It is literally a pile of pages hiding underneath my bed right now. I wrote a feature spread for the O'Week edition of WORDLY and worked with one of the other editors on it, but aside from than, no new material out of me. One of my friends at uni was involved in organising and running the Digital Writers' Festival and asked me to promote them a little, so I managed to 'attend' some of their events (online) and Tweet about them from the @DeakinWriters and @WORDLYMagazine accounts. My boyfriend and I started hiking together. We've gone four times this month for about two hours each time. I've started swimming laps again, which is something I haven't done since early high school. And just generally, I've been keeping up my social appearances with friends where I can. Even though I haven't done any writing for myself, I've got a lot of stuff I'd like to write in my head, from children's literature analyses about Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra (OMG DID ANYONE SEE THE FINALE OF KORRA OMG I WAS SO HAPPY), to another YA dystopia/post-apocalyptic/borderline science-fiction story idea I'd like to try and execute.
(How I'm feeling now ... except I don't think I'm quite that cute.)
My boyfriend was meant to move to South Australia for an internship last month, but that's been delayed for about six months, so we're living together. It's kinda sad, I just want him to hurry up and go so that he can hurry up and come back. I also preemptively took on a lot of work (see everything I've listed above) so that I'd be able to keep myself busy while he was gone and make it easier to deal with, but now that he isn't going, I feel like I've taken on too much. The busiest part of it (particularly the production of Verandah Journal) will all be over before he leaves. I suppose I've got to grin and bare it, though. When I make a commitment, I stick to it, and a lot of these aren't commitments I can back out of easily ... I just need to make sure I don't accidentally get given any more jobs, or I'll have seriously screwed myself over. I feel a little overwhelmed at the moment, but I know it's just a matter of getting used to, taking a deep breath and realising none of it is that hard. I just have to be organised and stay on top of everything. I say that now, but let's see how I actually manage everything as this first Trimester of uni gets started.
Well, this post has been long and rambly. It's 11:30 at night over here and I want to be at The Wheeler Centre pretty early tomorrow morning, so I'm going to throw in the towel now and hopefully I'll pick it up and write another blog post before several months have slipped away in silence.
I apologise for any typos or grammatical errors. I am too sleepy for that kind of coherency.
Well, NaNoWriMo is over and I managed to hit 50K before the month was up and validate everything, so I'm happy. The story I was working on, working title CHERISH, still has a long way to go before I can say the first draft is finished, but I'll keep slowly moving forward with it. I can't say I love it as much as I loved WALLS, but we'll see what happens by the end of it and after a few rounds of editing.
In other news, last week, I was a guest speaker at the school my mother works at. The year 5/6 teacher wanted someone to speak to her class about writing and the writing process, so my mother volunteered me. They were a good bunch of kids and the teacher said I could talk for as long as I want--the longer the better and if I could take up their whole morning before recess then that would be great. I thought I'd speak for maybe an hour at the most and then be on my merry way ... I might have underestimated the enthusiasm of these children.
I had two things which the teacher agreed I should talk about: the process of writing and editing and producing WORDLY Magazine and also the process of writing and editing my own creative pieces, especially my novels. I spent maybe a whole 10 minutes talking about the student magazine and the editing process and when I finished explaining the three stages of editing submissions, I asked if there were any questions, and one of the little tykes popped their hand up and asked, 'What's your favourite part about writing?'
Me: 'Well, that segues nicely into my next topic ... '
Teacher up the back of the room: *rolls eyes at my use of the word 'segue'*.
I ended up spending the following hour and a half talking about the process of novel writing and the art of editing a large piece. I started by taking them back to my first attempt at novel writing, which happened on a girl guides camp on a notepad one weekend in November in early high school. I told them about the project my English teacher gave us in year eight, where seven other girls collaborated with me to write a novel for an assessment piece and I was in charge of editing all the different styles of writing they came out with so the piece flowed and matched up. Then I talked about my first serious and successful attempt at writing a novel, when I wrote EVERGREEN: A FALLEN STAR for a subject my school designed for the year nine students called the Journey Project, and how it was self coordinated and we had to do a big evaluation at the end, and my first draft was over 80K at the end of the year, but how I'd edited it more time than I can count and cut it down to about 65K and let a friend read over it for me and give me some constructive criticism and how I've now put that novel aside because I'm planning to re-write it after I finish my children's literature minor study at University. I told them about writing KATHERINE in year 12, and writing WALLS for NaNoWriMo last year, and how I printed the manuscript off and blue tacked it to the walls of my bedroom on res. I showed them a photo of one of the walls, all covered in pages--their reactions were great. But their best reactions was when I told them how long it was when it was finished--88,732 words of first draft.
Basically, I was trying to tell them that it was okay for them not to get everything right the first time, and that it was normal to have to write and rewrite and edit many times before their work was at a high standard--and that they should work hard and be dedicated to their writing if they wanted to do something with it. I got to tell them about NaNoWriMo and challenging yourself and writing to a deadline, and writing a lot of words to a deadline. I left that website with the teacher for future reference, and I also left them a link to a novella competition for high school students (Somerset National Novella Writing Competition, which was where I tried to submit KATERINE back in 2012) as the year 6 portion of the class would be moving on to high school next year.
They had so many questions for me about the stories I'd written and what it was like to study writing at university. I think that's what took up most of our time was questions and answers. But I'm glad they had questions, because it prompted me to say things to them that I might have forgotten to mention otherwise. They asked me about who and what inspired me to write, and what my favourite book was, what genres I like to write and how much I have to write just for university. One of the kids even asked if I'd come back and read them something I've written--maybe I will.
But it was a really good morning and I think the kids were really engaged with what I was saying. The teacher commented to me afterwards that she hadn't expected them to be so quiet for me and listen so well, so she thought that getting someone to actually come in and talk to them--someone who wasn't too much older than them, still a student, but out there really doing as much as possible with their writing--was going to help encourage them to go for it in the future. My mum told me a few days later that the teacher had ended up telling her that I'd even inspired her to pick up a pen and start writing again, so I feel rather flattered!
So, if you ever get a chance to talk to young minds about writing, don't let the opportunity slip away. Who knows, maybe you'll inspire them to give a serious attempt at writing a try.
What have you all been up to, fellow writers?
I thought of the idea for this post earlier this week when a friend of mine who is participating in NaNoWriMo read a scene from mine and told me he didn't like any of the stuff he'd written. This November, I'm actually finding it quite hard myself to like what I've written so far, but a few minutes ago I hit the 25K mark on my word count and I feel like my story is finally starting to take shape.
The thing with writing is that, unless you're freakishly amazing all the time, you're not always going to be able to write well. Not every word you put on the page is going to be something you'll be proud of. Actually, a LOT of what you write is going to be really, really, really shit. Right now, that's how I feel about 15-20 thousand words of what I've written in the past thirteen days. So why do I keep going? Because if I don't accept the fact that sometimes I will write badly, then I will never have the chance to write well.
I have several friends who aren't participating in NaNoWriMo because they think the rules are stupid (Holmes, I'm looking at you). And that's okay too, because everyone writes their stories differently. Everyone has their own creative process. For some people, that means word-vomiting into Google Docs as fast as you can, including for NaNoWriMo, and for other people, that means staring at the computer screen for hours on end and only getting out a few carefully thought out and worded paragraphs at a time. Regardless of which approach you take, there are going to be days where you write shit, an days when you realise you're shitting gold. Sometimes it comes out somewhere in between and you know what you've got in front of you has potential. Even some of the worst stuff you write could have potential and that's the thing--being a good writer isn't about always writing flawlessly amazing words every single time and becoming a bestseller overnight. Being a good writer is about being able to identify what parts of your work are good, what parts are bad, and what parts are okay. It's about being able to identify where potential lies and bring that potential to the surface. It's not just about the first draft. It's about the editing process too. It's about redrafting. And sometimes it's about making a hard call and moving on to something else even though you've already put a lot of work into what you've already written.
Sometimes, it isn't about which approach you take (QUITE-WRITE-A-FIRST-DRAFT-HURRY vs staring-at-the-screen-and-being-pedantic-about-every-word-I-write). Sometimes it's about which approach your story wants to take. At the moment, my NaNoWriMo is my first attempt at novel-length literary fiction. Yes, yes, crucify me and tell me what a snotty bastard I am for temporarily turning my back on genre fiction. The thing is, my attempts at literary fiction in the past have used the process that does not work well with NaNoWriMo and at times I've stopped and wondered if trying to write this particular novel for NaNoWriMo was a bad idea. And maybe it was. Maybe this would have been way easier to sit down and nut out slowly. But I started something and now I'm going to finish it. And even though it's probably going to be one of the worse novel-length pieces I've ever written--what with it's inconsistent voice and inability to STAY literary and not slip into one genre or another--the fact of the matter is that at the end of the this project, I'll have the first draft of another novel, which I already think has potential, even if it's only in the story and not so much the way it's been written. At some point, maybe later in 2015 or 2016 when it's been put aside for a little while and I've worked on something else and I can return to it with fresh eyes, I'll return to this novel and see if the writing can be salvaged or if I need to write it all over again. And I'm okay with writing it all over again. I am a writer. It's okay to press delete. And it's okay to hit the backspace key. And it's okay to abandon a project completely and move on to something else. As long as I maintain that I am a writer and I don't give up on writing.
Writing badly is also important so that you can get it out of your system. It's more ideal to do this when you're NOT working on a big project that you're trying to take seriously, but beggars can't be choosers. Once the bad writing is out and on the page, what else is to follow but the okay writing and the good writing? And that's why it's important that we allow ourselves to write badly sometimes. And I don't mean to encourage anyone to be lazy in the way they write and then use this as a justification. I'm just saying: it's okay.
So even though I hate most of what I've written so far and I'm now halfway to the NaNoWriMo word goal, I'm going to keep going, because I think I've gotten the worst of it out of my system and things are starting to perk up a little now. And whatever I wrote awfully at the start is something I can return to later and write all over again. Because that's what I do. I am a writer.
That moment when it's November and you realise you haven't blogged since August ... woops. I'm still alive, I swear! Well then, what the heck have I been doing? Yes, I've been asking myself this question quite a bit as well. And turns out, I've actually been up to a lot more than I realised.
Well first of all, I got a second job. Still at the university library, but a bit different to my job as a Student Rover. Throughout September, I was working 9-5 usually 2 or 3 days a week doing some writing and communications stuff for the head librarian. So that was pretty cool. I now have an access card to the staff only area and for a little while there I had a desk pretty close to all the offices of important library people. Then the head librarian was running out of time to give me stuff to do, so she got the service desk people to train me so that I can do all of that stuff too, so I've had a couple of shifts doing that in October. Now I'm finished with my second year of uni, so work at the library is a little slow. The Student Rover program won't run again until March next year, but in the meantime I'll still get the odd shift on the service desk during the summer teaching period.
But in between all that work in September and early October I was also still going to uni for eight hours on Mondays, meeting with the WORDLY production team on Wednesdays, and working on assignments. Well, actually, I kind of left all my assignments until the week before they were due, so in the space of one week I cranked out 3 essays ... and two of them were philosophy essays, so that made my thinker-box hurt quite a bit and I was filled with regret.
But before my assignments were all due, I was working both in the library and on the final edition of WORDLY for 2014 and I've got to say I am quite proud of what we produced for the Writers Club. We launched the final edition at the end of September and accompanied the launch with an open-mic spoken word event, and the Deakin Writers Club annual general meeting, where the new executive committee for the club and the magazine was elected. So, I am now production manager of WORDLY magazine and president of the Deakin Writers Club for 2015 and pretty excited about it. I have great faith in the rest of the executive team and I think we're going to work really well together to make 2015 an awesome year for all things writerly at Deakin.
So yeah, after all that and writing my assignments, I bummed around res for a couple of weeks while all my housemates suffered through exams (mwahahahahahaha suckers) and watched a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra with various people because it's amazing. I went on a bit of a holiday with two of my best writerly friends, Watson and Holmes, and we did nerdy writerly things for a weekend and a bit. Then I got all of my marks back and I was pretty happy with them. It was a good trimester at uni, overall. Then I went back to my hometown for a little and managed to get my probationary drivers licence, drove back up to uni, and moved all my stuff off res because it was that time of year again. It was very sad saying goodbye to all of my housemates and other ressie friends, especially the ones I've known since my first year on res. It was sad saying goodbye to res in general, because it's been my home for two years now and such an amazing place. I'll miss it dearly, but the lease was over and it was time to move to another dwelling. I haven't moved far from the university, so I'll still be able to get in to go to work pretty easily.
And last of all, it's November! Which mean I've started NaNoWriMo again. This year, I'm taking the idea I used for my fiction piece in trimester 1 and turning it into a full-length novel. I don't think I'm doing a particularly fantastic job of it thus far, but hey, what are first drafts for if not for making an absolute mess of a great idea? But what happened to my project from last year, the one I blue-tacked all to my bedroom wall on res? Well, I had to take it down when I moved out, but I did finish the first round of edits a little while ago now. Last month, I finally started transferring those edits to the document on my computer. After NaNoWriMo this year, I'll be spending most of the summer editing that, along with the work of another friend which he gave to me back in September. I've been intending to write a story sins blog post about WALLS, but I guess that'll have to wait for a little while longer. For now, lets see if being on summer holidays can get me back into the swing of blogging.
Where have your writerly ventures taken you these past few months?
I was lucky enough to be asked by one of my teachers to work at the open day for my university last weekend. She wanted me to be a student ambassador for the Professional and Creative Writing major and because I am ridiculously organised and checked out the course rules and mapped out all my units for the entire three years the moment I enrolled I knew I wouldn't have a problem doing that.
So open day came around and I got a cool blue Deakin shirt that all the other student ambassadors were wearing. I stood outside the little stall set up for the PCW major. We were sharing a stall with Children's Literature, which I know a little bit about through my minor study, and Literature, which I only know of through a few friends doing it as a minor study.
I was having a fantastic day. I love my course and I was really happy to have the chance to share my experiences and knowledge with potential students for next year. I'd start each conversation by telling them which units they had to complete and what they entailed. I'd tell them how amazing the lecturer Dr Pont is for the first unit they would have to do. They seemed so amazed by the flexibility they could have in choosing units and the opportunities for networking with other writers and chances they'd have to get published if they kept their ears and contacts open. I was impressed with myself for being able to answer so many of their questions, even the parents who would pipe up and ask me something seemed satisfied by my answers, especially when they'd ask something like 'what's your goal at the end of your course? What career opportunities will you have? What will you be qualified to do?'
Then this one guy was standing in front of our stall, looking at the names of the majors we were representing on big signs on the wall behind us. He stood there for a few minutes and eventually I stepped up to him and asked if there was anything I could help him with. For all I knew, he was a mature aged student, or the father of some kid who was about to finish high school with no clue of what they wanted to do next. At first he said no, he was just waiting for someone. Then he asked me what course I was representing and I held up my little info flyer and pointed to the Professional and Creative Writing heading.
I won't say he laughed. He didn't laugh. But he may as well have.
He made one of those sounds of disbelief that I never know what to call (I don't always want to say scoff, because it has some mean connotations, but it's probably fitting in this case). And he did it with such condescension that I physically had to force myself to keep smiling and appear unfazed.
His body language changed. He started casually hopping from foot to foot as if he was bored, and started throwing and catching the little stress ball in his hand. While he was doing that, he asked said, 'Alright, sell it to me.' Then he said something to the effect of, 'Why should anyone bother with this course?'
I was mad. Who the fuck did this guy think he was, knocking my course right in front of me? But I'd been selling this to people for two hours already and doing a damn good job of it. So I started listing the skills one could acquire and improve if they did the Professional and Creative Writing major. I told him how much better I am at writing, both professionally and creatively, and how I could edit other people's work like no one's business to make it better, and every business, company, corporation, institution etc. put out any sort of publication (text advertisements, information booklets, video campaigns which need scripts, etc.) needs a good writer and/or editor to do that sort of thing for them if they want it to look professional.
Then he cut me off and said something to the effect of, 'Wouldn't it be better if they just taught kids all that stuff in high school? I mean aren't you just creating a bureaucracy?'
He didn't care to listen to my defenses. Every time I started speaking again, he just cut me off and started going on about bureaucracy and speaking to me in such a pretentious way that frankly he was lucky I was working, in a uniform, with my peers and superiors nearby. Under different circumstances, I probably would have referred him to the My Vagenda article I wrote for the Awkward edition of WORDLY, to give him an idea of what I thought of him.
We were interrupted when his wife came over and I realised she was a staff member at my university. She was working at the next table over, representing the journalism, media communications, and public relations side of things. I had thought it was interesting that both of our stalls were together under the Writing and Communications banner, but not only were there two separate tables, we had taken up different colours to distinguish the obviously more creative majors under that banner from the more serious (for lack of a better word) majors.
In that moment, I knew that there was no way this man would ever be convinced that my course was worth undertaking. There are a lot of people I know who ask me what I'm studying, and when I tell them I study writing they immediately turn around and say, 'So, like journalism?' It ticks me off, probably to an irrational extent, that so few people (except those also doing my course) consider what I'm studying to be substantial, to be worth studying if I want to get a job at the end of it. I spent the rest of open day refraining from shooting this jerk dirty looks as he hung around the journalism/communications/public relations table and trying not to let it get under my skin.
Later, when I had some time to myself, I sat there contemplating all the things I could have said to this guy to shut him down and prove that my course isn't as useless as he makes it sound. I knew his argument had holes and then I could make them bigger if I poked them. If it weren't for the sake of maintaining professionalism while I was working, I wouldn't have let him cut me off so easily. I probably would have cut him off at a few points.
Describing him with a few choice words aside, I would have argued that for him to suggest that we just teach kids the things I was telling him about in high school makes him an idealist. While in theory, yeah, great plan, it would be like communism once it's put in to practice: epic fail. In saying that we may as well teach high school students the stuff I learn in my course, he may as well have suggested we teach high school kids everything a university student is capable of studying and cut out the idea of university altogether. But that wouldn't work. Not every kid is an Einstein. And frankly, even the ones that are usually only excel like that in certain areas. The thing is, we do teach all those things to high school students: at a high school level. For me, the point of coming to university was to take what I excelled in during high school and study it at a higher, more in-depth level to make myself even better at it.
I suck at science. My maths is pretty average. But I am in my element when I'm writing (especially creatively) and when I'm editing. However, there are heaps of people who have it the other way around. They might be ace at science or maths or IT, but have terrible professional English skills. The thing is, because we all excel in different areas, we balance each other out. I'm writing a pantomime for a bio-medicine student at the moment! If that isn't a perfect example, then I don't know what is. Does this guy, and everyone who thinks like him, want to live in a world where there is no creative stimuli for them to take in? No great books to read, regardless of whether you prefer commercial or literary? Movies and television shows couldn't exist if someone didn't write a script, and all those pop songs you hear on the radio sure as hell don't write themselves.
I had a great time working at the open day. Not only did I get to tell heaps of potential students about my course: I realised how truly passionate I am about what I'm doing and how much faith I have in what I'm learning and my potential to utilise it. No one can convince me that my talents are useless and no amount of condescension and narrow-mindedness can make me change what I want to do with my life.
What do you want to rant about this week?