Over the years people have made it a point to tell me, being a writer doesn’t take a degree. As much as I wanted to believe the words that were perpetually thrown my way; I was having a hard time coming to that conclusion. Growing up it was instilled in me that to become a writer,a good writer that shows promise, I had to have certain things. Being able to articulate your thoughts, being able to edit yourself, and advoiding being bias towards subjects in which you are writing.
I practiced this for so long. My writing whether it was articles, short stories, scripts etc. was getting better with time. A couple years ago when I was seriously contemplating going back to university to finish my bachelors someone I met on a bus from New York told me things that still stick with me. She said, “1. Avoid bias, 2. Use active verbs, 3. Eliminate most adjectives and adverbs, 4. Use concrete detail, 5. Tell a story worth telling, 6. Know your subject. You don’t need a degree to be a professional. All a degree is saying is that you’re an expert. But being an expert in something doesn’t necessarily mean your good at it.” It was in that moment that I began to think maybe I don’t need my degree. Of course it would be hard to put my work out in the world. Was my story really worth telling?
I wasn’t sure then and I’m not necessarily sure now. But telling my stories are worth a shot, right. I’ve read many pieces from journalist, authors and bloggers where the work wasn’t the best. If they could put their work out in the world then I could too. My thought process has always been well if they can, and I believe I’m better, than I can too. Here I am, putting my work and stories out in the universe. Is it the easiest thing to do? No, not at all. Am I writing for my dream publication? No, I wish I was. But having my own platform where I dont have to censor myself to others standards makes it worth it. Am I making the amount of money I desire? Nowhere close, but that can always change in a moments time.
There are downfalls to not having a degree unfortunately. For instance, recently I sent an email to a publication looking for freelance writers. They were looking for youngnee fresh voices to freature as freelance writers. All you had to do is send a pitch plus writing samples to a certain email. Easy enough right? I send my pitch and samples in. I included articles from an internship I obtained at my city’s paper, articles from my time at college, and two piece I’ve written for this very blog. In two days time I got a reply. They loved my work but they were curious as to if I finished my degree. I replied that I had not. I sent that reply a week ago and haven’t received a response since. I even sent a follow up email. Still radio silence. I’m not upset or frustrated with the situation but I can’t help to wonder if I had a degree would they’ve responded?
If not having a degree means I’m not guaranteed or considered positions at certain publications then fine. Just knowing that my writing is substantially greater than I could imagine is more than enough. I’ll just continue to create a platform for my work in the meantime.