After the Bachelors Degree

So I think I want a Masters degree?

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I’m at the awkward age of 32 when you begin to over analyze every aspect of your life. Do I have a career (or just a job), am I happy in my relationships, do I need to be worrying about marriage and children, Do I make enough money, am I planning for my retirement, should I be thinking of buying a house?

With a Bachelors degree in Anthropology, I was qualified to do very little, mostly dig in the dirt as a grunt on a team of seasonal archaeology techs or tell people I had a degree in Anthropology. Now I’m not saying that I regret my choice, on the contrary, I loved every minute of it. But, I don’t feel like I was left with any real sense of direction after school was over and student loans were due.

Full disclosure, I have about 40 thousand in student loan debt. Can we say, OUCH!!

It’s crazy to think about that number and not immediately run head first into the working world to try and pay it back, justify the cost of my education. I couldn’t even think of going back to school for another 2-3 more years, I got it into my head that school was officially over and it was time to work and be an adult.

Fast forward to the present (6 years later), and while I don’t have everything figured out, I do know this.

It’s all subjective, there are no rules, and failing is better than not doing!

Life is really this game where everything is made up, and the points don’t matter. So have fun, kiss the girl (or boy), write the terrible novel, make the movie, and play that damn guitar that has been collecting dust in the corner.

Bonus points to whoever gets my British tv reference. 

My moment of aww screw it was, deciding to go back to school and work towards a Masters degree in creative writing. I did weeks of googling, reading blog after blog on the subject of the elusive MFA. Shakespear wasn’t kidding when he said to be or not to be, people were extremely divided on this topic. It was almost a clear split down the middle, half of the professors and professional authors thought the MFA was a complete was of time and not useful in developing a successful writer, the other half thought the degree program had significant value and was worth the time and money. So it was up to me.

Part of the process involved in applying to these programs (as some of you may know) is to write out an essay detailing why you want to get an MFA degree, and how you plan to apply this to your future career choices. Basically, tell us why you love writing enough to spend another 2+ years in a classroom and what will you do after you leave (and don’t say, teacher).

Now I’m sitting here, in front of my computer again trying to answer that same question I avoided 6 years earlier. What am I going to do once I leave school? How will I make this degree work for me and give me the career I want?person-woman-apple-hotel

This is the part where I google career options for people with an MFA in creative writing.

Huffington Post has an article (What Can You Do With a Creative Writing Degree) published initially on Quora about this very question, and I recommend taking a look if you need inspiration, it helped me. I probably fall into the journalism/freelancer category, while also being interested in the publishing industry. So for me, this degree will help to propel me forward in my writing, build connections and give me access to the schools in-house publishing opportunities.

This career path may not be the safest route, but I can’t see myself doing anything else. I can continue to work in an office reporting to a boss and filing papers. But what I really want is to take the risk and put my words out there for people to read.

 

I would love to hear about your aww screw it moment, did you start that novel? How did it go for you? What did you learn? And, don’t forget to follow me on twitter @AlishaKwrites

After the 30-Day writing challenge

It is the end of my 30-day writing challenge. Quew epic music and streamers!

I realize this post is kinda late, well a lot late, well almost a month late. But who’s keeping track…

Let me first start this weeks blog post by saying that I completely bombed the writing challenge.

Amidst the mass of self-confidence and idealism, there was something else lurking beneath the surface. It was the reality of what I actually set out to do. I just wasn’t prepared for it. I had a concept, but the connection to my characters and their purpose in the story just wasn’t there. It was all superficial, I could tell you what they looked like and their small talk facts, but I don’t think I really knew what made them tick, or why someone (the reader) should care about them.

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After doing hours of googling on the subject I was bombarded with suggestions and motos. Almost every writer out there has something to say on the topic of first drafts. Some writers believe that you can’t really know your characters till you dive in head first and just bang out the first draft, others take a more leisurely approach and outline every detail.

So what kind of writer am I?

Honestly, I’m still in the process of answering this question. I love doing research, and character creation is so much fun. But, if I had to narrow down my individual writing style or process I just don’t have an answer yet. But I’m okay with that.

Do I feel like a total failure? No, and here’s why.

I spent the last thirty days of my writing challenge staring at blank screens, typing, deleting, and then typing again. The anxiety and panic attacks came, they always do, but I dealt with them head-on and feel better for it. They are part of the creative process, struggling to come up with the right words (or any words) is way more real than some genius sitting in a coffee shop magically typing a brilliant first draft of a life-altering novel that will sell millions of copies. We spend so much time focusing on the end result of our favorite authors that we forget they had to wade through the muck of a blank screen just as much as the rest of us.

So here I was wading through the sludge of bad prose and shallow characters.

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I became so successful in this process of avoidance and writing block that I ended up working on a lot of poetry. I went to open mic nights, probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I signed up for a poetry class, and while I don’t have an entire rough draft, I do have a better sense of just how seriously I want to take my work.

I learned to, take chances and reach outside my comfort level, put my writing first, and being okay with not knowing.

I submitted my work to some writing contests, didn’t win but did get one of the most reassuring rejection letters to date, and I plan to keep trying, keep writing and just enjoy the ride.

So here it is a full honest account of my journey through the world of fiction and poetry. I don’t know what will come next, but I’m sure it will be exciting.

How has your own writing journey worked out? I would love to hear about it. Feel free to post below, and remember to follow me on Twitter – @AlishaKwrites. 

 

Currently battling the villains of writers block! It has been a dodgy war with many casualties and though the battle field is covered in a thick haze of smoke an end is soon to come. Though our heroine was at first greatly outnumbered, a sudden turn of the wind or a shift in fate has changed the course of the battle and she seems to be gaining ground. Soon a victor shall be named and banners raised high above the parapet for all too see. What is yet to come from this war few can say, though many believe it will be glorious.

 

Development of Story

Once the creative juices were allowed to flow freely they just can’t be stopped! and I don’t think I ever want them too. I am having the most exciting and revealing experience working on my book. I have had to battle with the reality of not understanding my main character, just how involved it is to develop an entirely new world, and creating an interesting story arch that isn’t just a regurgitation of well known and often over used themes.

I began working on this story about a year ago and then hit a snag when I realized that the main character and I just didn’t understand one another. I was desperately trying to put her in a very particular box and she refused to stay there. So instead I focused on the world my character would be interacting with. I created maps, developed class systems and various cultural traditions. But, then a few months ago I had a breakthrough, I realized that like myself my main character was not a fan of boxes. I began to start asking myself some questions regarding her motivations and her reactions to certain problems she would encounter within the story and realized she was a lot more like myself than I had planned. While there are still some noticeable differences between us I could not escape the fact that the story I am writing is inspired by a personal experience I had when I was visiting my grandparents property and those thoughts and feelings are what drive my character to keep going.

So now I have the foundation for my book. There is a map, family trees, main characters and supporting characters, and I even have an exciting story arch with some very interesting twists. Look forward to some excerpts of my work soon, I hope it will inspire you as much as it is me.

Alisha Kendall

 

Poetry Time!

Along with my love of writing fiction I also enjoy writing poetry and have done so for quite a long time. So I feel it would be a good way to get to know me and my writing style by posting some of my poetry here on my blog! Feel free to give me feedback and I hope you like it 🙂

This Is Me Asking For Help

Engulfed by fear of the shadows and dark corners in my mind.
All I want to do is run, run and hide,
never having to see the shadows for what they truly are.
But I try to stand tall, even when I’m shaking
and then I finally realize just how vulnerable I am.
I have exposed all my weaknesses
and now have no way of covering them.

Can I defend myself?
Should I defend myself?
I just want to find one moment to rest
or one hand to hold.
Would that be too much to ask?
Is that the sad truth?

That we must face these shadows alone.
I do not want to be alone, not now nor ever.
I keep reaching out for that one hand
that will hold fast to mine and never let go.
Sometimes I feel finger tips.

Alisha Kendall

At the Beginning

So after much internal struggle and a realization that I must in fact pursue a career that will make me happy, I have allowed myself to write.

To begin I have had a love affair with the written word for as long as I can remember. I would read every book I could find, I even remember reading my mothers college textbooks when I was around 8 or  9 years old as I had already exhausted all other books in the house. I would practice writing my own little stories and have kept a journal to this day. I find something so beautiful in the written word and the artisans who craft amazing tales which expand my knowledge and imagination. I knew I wanted to be one of them but for years was convinced I must choose a practical career or something close too it. Clearly I did not fully believe this as I chose a degree in Anthropology and unless I planned to become a teacher of Anthropology not the most practical application in the working world. But it fits great in the world of writing!

So here I am at the beginning! and I am excited for the next phase.

Alisha Kendall