a life creative
On face value a creative writing degree was useful on a number of levels: a sound grounding in the history and theory of writing, the complex elements of style and, most memorably yet sometimes (on my part) sloppily-adhered-to mantra, “show, don’t tell”.
My final Uni class ended in February 2009 and the past year has been spent writing several drafts of my novel as well as chasing freelance writing jobs and local jobs and other online jobs to little avail. In April I attended a two day course in Canberra on technical writing but have had no success with finding work in that field. Few people are willing to take on a beginner. Those who are, I’ve heard say that the following year is spent picking apart everything learnt at Uni in order for the ‘beginner’ relearn what is required of them on the job.
It is precisely the practicality and mechanics of obtaining employment in the real world where I believe Uni – at least in regards to creative writing – falls on its academic snout and TAFE and other less academic institutions take flight. I know my issue is due in part to my choice of subjects; notwithstanding, less of writing being drummed as “a hard, hard road” and more practical advice on internships, cadetships, employment from grassroots level, onward and upward, to infinity and beyond…would have been nice. That I ought to do Honours was pushed frequently in third year but when I, aghast, realised (after the bull ant caress of the real world) that I needed to gain a few actually usable skills in my field and subsequently tried to return in order to do editing, I was told it was too late but, again, what about Honours?
The killer in all of this was that I’d had a flash of insight quite early on that made me veer so very close to swapping from creative writing to graphic design. This came after having enrolled in a summer design subject in first year. Yet I was dogged: write or die. By third year I was wishing that I had at least pursued a double degree but was worried about the work load. I needn’t have been: third year was a pussycat in comparison to the previous year, something I found rather odd.
My problem was that I went into Uni with little tangible knowledge of what to expect, and this naivety was due to no point of coherent reference. A case of plenty of support but little guidance. Whenever I asked anyone about the process I often found their answers befuddling, in a tone that was often condescending, as though I should know it already – hell, what’s wrong with this woman? – which for a while made me feel daft and anxious. So I wasted a lot of time and energy bumbling about the first couple of months but by second session of the first year I had it nutted out, realised I wasn’t the only one wearing the rumpled brow of “huh?”.
And then I enjoyed myself.
While I’ve since graduated ‘with distinction’ I feel that despite all those pretty Ds and HDs (we’ll gloss over the three Cs that dared to mar my page), my piece of paper is redundant until I can get employment in a writerly related field or I sell my novel and become filthy rich from the movie deals and merchandise – whichever comes first. In the interim, however, I plan on going to Europe for a holiday in the next couple of years and in order to do that I need more work than I currently have.
So what next?
On Wednesday I applied by letter to a local graphic design firm whose portfolio I admire. I discovered serendipitously that they are the tutors for a distance education graphic design program run by ACQ as well as being the writers for the course content, in which I will be enrolling.
On Friday I received a phone call.
Today, at 2pm, I have a job interview.
UPDATE: The interview went very well – in fact, it’s the first interview I’ve ever been to in which I felt calm. And today (Monday) I received a phone call today to say that I got the job!!! I start next Tuesday. In the meantime I’ll be enrolling in the graphic design diploma, which I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into.
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