When I tell people I’m studying a writing degree, the first question is usually ‘what do you want to do with it?’ I’ve heard it so many times yet the pure, embarrassing fact of the matter is that I simply don’t know. I feel like I’m still learning so much about what I do and don’t enjoy about writing. Yet, when I’m asked about my future aspirations, I usually force myself to come up with a plausible sounding answer. Mostly so that they don’t think I’m a total time waster or head-in-the-clouds dreamer with no life goals to speak of.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think about it and I think about it often. I have some vague ideas around digital marketing, social media, content creation, all the practical stuff you can do as a writer in the big, bad corporate world that might still retain some semblance of fun. And yes, I know these jobs are few and far between but it seems like finishing my studies will happen in such a far off and unimaginable time (November 2016) that I allow myself to dream.
But then comes the question, ‘do you want to write a book?’ That one always throws me because part of me thinks that’s what writers do, right? They should want to write a book. And, I can’t lie, the idea does intrigue me. But it also frightens the living fuck out of me. A whole book? With characters and a plot and a story arc and that’s actually interesting? Ha. What the hell would I write about? Virginia Woolf is onto something up there but how the hell would you even start writing a book like that?
As part of my uni degree, I have to read texts that focus on the little nuanced ways to develop characters and instil themes and narratives and how various POVs can affect a story. Gah! It’s all so complicated. And then I look at my own little short story assignments and they seem so primitive. So simple. I know they’re nice, as in nicely written, but are they compelling reading? Are they fascinating stuff? Hardly.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. Could I possibly expect them to be at bestseller stage at this point in my life? I’m still learning. Ah, but can you teach writing? Or at least can you teach the kind of writing that creates novels? Business writing, I’m sure you can teach, but interesting, spellbinding, can’t put it down, actual books? I have my doubts. And how many writers actually study to become writers? Isn’t it something you can or can’t do? Many of my units have actually covered that topic and – surprise! – no one really has a clue.
So maybe I won’t be that kind of writer and, you know what, I’m ok with that. But if one day I’m struck with an idea that worms its way into my head and won’t leave me alone then, sure, I’ll give it a go. See where it takes me.
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