A lot of people would look at my undergraduate degree and think something along the lines of what my nanny said years ago to me.
‘What the use of an arts degree?’
Well, here’s me getting into a bit of a huff. An arts degree are good for people like me – the creative type. Those that pursue passions and dreams as opposed to money or prestige.
I know that in the future, and even now actually, I look back on my uni studies and know that I don’t regret how I spent my time. I enjoyed a lot of the stuff I studied. I have an appreciation of poetry that I didn’t have before (doesn’t mean I like it though. It’s the medium). Jane Austen’s work speaks volumes in terms of it being a reflection of the society around her. Something I’ve never considered before. And all those electives I have had taught me so much about the world. Things I learnt about gender roles in sociology, things I learnt about people in psychology and that class ‘Trafficking Bodies from the Ancient World to the Present’. The stuff I learnt in that made me appreciate Django so much more than I would have. The social hierarchy, gender, racial roles and economical roles human beings placed on each other when they turned the human body into commodities is unbelievable. Whether I intended it or not all this has improved my life for the better. It has given me a better appreciation of the world for what it is, no matter how good or bad. And I understand human beings and our behaviour more than I would otherwise.
And all this has and will help me in pursuit of my dream to become an author.
I pursued creative writing because I love writing stories and I knew that even though I had a passion for it, I wasn’t that good at the actual writing. I had the idea in my head playing out like a movie. But it wasn’t coming out right on paper (and it also got me out of my rural town).
Going to uni opened my eyes at how poor my writing really was. And when that teacher, who was off putting to everyone including myself, said during my last year,
‘Stephanie I can see that you’re writing has improved from when I first taught you.’ (small uni and small program, had multiple classes with her)
I knew that she was telling the truth. All those creative writing classes where I had to write story after story, sometimes I had to force it out of me while adhering to the criteria they set (which was hard by the way). But every new story I wrote and multiple rounds of editing forced me to look at what I wrote (aka poured myself and soul into) and realise that sometimes (aka every time) it wasn’t really good. And what was worse than realising that the wording, formatting and punctuation was sub-par was realising that the story itself wasn’t worth much.
I could have given up and after my first creative writing class ‘intro to creative writing’ I wanted to. I struggled against what I thought was how to write a story and the better way to write one(the whole story plot graph thing). That story I wrote for class – I wasn’t happy with it and I will probably never publish it. But I wanted to be a writer so I didn’t give up. Even though the teacher’s comments and edits showed me how bad I was, it wouldn’t deter me, even though my feelings said otherwise.
I took next semester’s creative writing classes and continued. Each new story brought with it a new round of editing from different teachers. while their comments seemed like a negative, they were actually helping me. They showed me my faults and forced me to look at them.
They forced me to realise that myself and my writing are two different things.
Even years later I know I’m more of a ‘teller’ when to be better I should be a ‘shower’ when it comes to writing. And because they told me, I know that when I look at a piece of my writing I can see it. I also know to change it.
And when someone says that they don’t like how/what/why I wrote what I wrote I can take it.
Because criticism was one of the best skills I learnt from my time at uni.
Because determination matters to those who want to succeed.
Because I could be a millionaire/billionaire/trillionaire or poor for the rest of my life and I will still write.
Because I know my novels are not something to give up when I get frustrated at my own inability to write them.
Because I know that if I don’t pursue my dreams then I’m less than what I could be.
Because writing is my passion and I want a life filled with the joy it gives me.