One year ago I wrote about my impending graduation and debt from federal and private student loans. The response intrigued me, but did not surprise me. The perception a lot of people have is that writers go to school to wear newsboy caps; graduate, then live in a cabin while writing the Great American Novel.
I didn't go to school to do that. The courses I took, like business writing, news writing, promotional writing and others, prepared me for jobs that actually exist for writers. My concern when I graduated wasn't that I'd reluctantly have to find a part-time job so I could spend my mornings staring at tea dregs, holed up in the corner booth of my local café hoping no one would interrupt me as I penned, what I would later discover to be, the most useless part of my novel.
My concern was finding a place to live. The Savannah College of Art and Design recruited me in my final weeks as a student to write in their communications department. I am employed in my field as a writer making an above average salary for someone who just graduated with a degree in writing.
Repayment on my loans began a few months ago. My debt is slightly less than it was last year, but it's not something I worry about. I don't ignore it in a way that might cause me financial ruin. I ignore it by not letting the material cost of things influence what I want to accomplish in life.
I work at one of the largest art and design universities in the world, with some of the most talented artists, intellectuals and forward-thinking designers in the country. On any given day I could be editing a book of précis on a period of history, writing a story about a student who won an award that'll change her life, or be sitting in a room listening to film legends recant the uncertain beginnings of their careers.
If I did the "practical" thing, or what I "should have done," as many people suggested, and gone to community college and worked a job just above minimum wage for a long time, I wouldn't be where I am today. And, I am truly happy. I chose the impractical for the reasons anyone chooses the impractical, for the reasons anyone who comes up against a wall knocks it down. I like that I've had to work hard and will have to continue to work hard. It makes the reward all the more meaningful.
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