I’ll be home the 18th ;) I can’t wait to hear you do some slam poems. You’ll always be my favorite poet. I’ve never come across anyone more talented.
"Discovering America" by Shannon Haaland
I like the dark part of the night, after midnight and before four-thirty, when it’s hollow, when ceilings are harder and farther away. Then I can breathe, and can think while others are sleeping, in a way can stop time, can have it so – this has always been my dream – so that while everyone else is frozen, I can work busily about them, doing whatever it is that needs to be done, like the elves who make the shoes while children sleep.
by Shannon Haaland
“Waldo, nobody is looking for you” my therapist says as I weep on the pleather futon, but it doesn’t stop the memories from flooding back. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, plenty of people have been diagnosed with paranoia disorder” she continues in a lulling tone, but she doesn’t understand. Nobody ever understands.
Every time I go into public, everybody points and stares, I swear I can hear them saying “there’s Waldo, there’s Waldo”. They stand with their eyes wide, judging me from my simple blue jeans to my red and white striped hat as if trying to memorize every detail of my being. I run, as far and as fast I can, ducking beneath whatever object I can, desperately trying to hide in the crowd. I want to be them, just a character in the chaos, just another clone in a seemingly 2-dimentional society.
But I will never be one of them; I see how they judge me, a mere Italian Hipster. Their stare boring into me like a piranha has jumped up and sunk it’s fangs into my back. I tell myself it’s just the disorder talking, Waldo, nobody is searching the crowd, scanning for your face and shouting with glee when they find it. But now I’m on the pleather futon, crying to this educated stranger because I don’t even know who I am anymore. I don’t recognize the face I see in the mirror, a man plagued by the terror of other’s thoughts. So I scan the remnants of my mind, asking myself “where is Waldo”.
If anyone has ever told you that wanting to be a writer in this day and age is impractical, read this. So far the little writing I have done has been enough to finance most of my college education. You have one life—don’t waste time being practical. I wrote this last year for my senior project but I just now realize how important it really is.
The Practical Applications of Creative Writing
By Shannon Haaland
In the modern age, the idea of a writer has transformed from a quill and ink clad intellectual scribing by candlelight, to the elusive Starbucks-consuming, laptop-toting hipster. With the invention of the internet, creative writers have even more ways to start their careers; they may to blog and promote their ideas without ever handing in a résumé. In this essay I will explore the many ways lovers and scholars of creative writing can make a living, but it is your job as reader to remove whatever preconceived notions you have about. Metaphorically place them in a metaphorical suitcase and metaphorically ship them to the metaphorical opposite side from wherever you’re non-metaphorically living. Since I am planning to earn a degree in creative writing and plan on being a travel writer, I am quite close to this topic as it to some measure predetermines my career, and therefore, my life (something I do not take lightly). In order to be a writer you need a very active internal suggestion engine and a healthy dose of optimism. As author Steve Martin puts it, “I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper”. Creative writing has many practical applications in the twenty first century and presents a large array of career opportunities for those captivated by high quality writing.
Has anyone ever told you that “You can’t make a living as a writer”? If you ever tried telling this to James Patterson, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Jeff Kinney or Nora Roberts they might plummet to the ground in laughter while simultaneously tossing wads of Benjamin Franklins? The truth is that not everyone can make a living as a novelist, but if a person has the right combination of determination, talent and a proclivity for meeting deadlines, they can certainly make enough money to pay the bills.
“Forbes, which calculates its annual compilation by using official figures and talking to book industry experts, found that Patterson earned $94m last year – a period which saw him publish 14 new titles and make more than double the amount of the second-placed King” (Newton 1).
Yes, I realize this is quite a highpoint (James Patterson’s success of course, not his writing) to start a paper on careers in creative writing, but it is imperative to accept that there are writers out there who started out completely broke and, with nothing but the thoughts in their mind and a pen in their hand, ended up on Forbes list of wealthiest writers.
You do not have to be a prolific writer to have a career in creative writing—many jobs evolve the business side of the craft, such as a literary agent or publisher. People in these professions can select manuscripts that interest them, assist writers in fulfilling their dream of publishing, and all the while make a profit from the writer in whom they are invested in. Cass Canfield, chairman of the board at Harper and Brothers 1945-1955, once said of his career: “I am a publisher—a hybrid creature: one part stargazer, one part gambler, one part businessman, one part midwife and three parts optimist” (Sterry 240). The market self-publishing has expanded recently, creating a need for publicists for novels/writing. From 8,000 to 11,000 new publishers enter the field every year; they are mostly self-publishers (selfpublishingresources.com). Writing is also required of literary agents and others in the publishing field, especially when corresponding between the authors and creating events. Bookstore signings and book readings also take some time hammering on a key board.
A degree in creative writing can also be translated into journalism. Working as columnist, reporter or freelance writer can necessitate imaginative writing, in addition to stone cold facts. Journalism has been wandering farther and farther into the creative side in order to stay current and appealing to readers.
“Today, most newspapers have accepted the fact that if newspaper journalism is to survive as a medium against the powerful and more attractive media, it has to take on some of their coloration—a sort of species adaptation for evolution and survival” (Cheney 253).
With the decline of sales in both newspapers and magazines, new writers are encouraged to take a more creative approach to their reporting. Creative reporting, of course, does not mean inventing numbers or persons in articles, but rather taking a more dynamic and often dramatic style. Humorous writing, such as that for Readers’ Digest and La Bougie du Sapeur (a French newspaper that is published every leap year on February 29th) has gained tremendously in popularity, despite the rest of the market (Stein 270).
One of the most adventurous forms of creative writing is categorized as travel writing—this can be writing guide books, hotel reviews, travel literature, articles in travel magazines, and independent novels. Travel writing can also be incorporated with photojournalism and/or documentary film. Some organizations for travel writers have been formed, such as the British Guild of Travel Writers, a group of highly professional writers based in the United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland.
“The median annual salary for writers and authors, including freelance travel writers, was $55,420 in 2010, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid 10th percentile earned $28,610 or less, while the lowest-paid 25th percentile earned $39,330 or less. The highest-paid 75th percentile earned $77,560 or more, while the highest-paid 90th percentile earned $109,440 or more.” (ehow.com)
No individual plans a career in travel writing as a way to ‘get rich quick.’ It is a fantastical notion fed by wanderlust and propelled by the pure exploration of the world. Getting paid to travel may be many people’s dream, but travel writers are the ones with the bravery and cleverness to truly do it.
Another sector of creative writing is the writing of children’s picture books. Picture books can range in all levels of reading from easy reading (young toddlers to children) to informative photography-based books dealing with scientific principles. As a writer, you can add illustrations to the story if you feel so artistically inclined or you can hire someone to do them for you. Schools and libraries look for new picture books to correlate with certain seasons or holidays and often buy a certain quota per month. There are always new children being raised who are in need of bedtime stories or ‘how to read’ books.
“The term picture book is both a perfect name and a murky one. What makes it so appropriate is that all the books in this category are indeed picture books, ranging from those who have only illustrations to the books in which drawings and words share responsibility. What clouds the issue is that many companies use the term to signify only that collection of material printed for the five-to-seven-year-old.” (Wyndham 196)
It is pretty hard to have lived in the United States during the twenty first century without seeing some type of television series, comic, videogame, or movie (unless you live in an Amish community and have yet to be released). All of these products require the skills of creative writing, and is considered a leafy offshoot called “screenwriting”. As well as writing solo, or on group boards, you can be a ‘script doctor’ which means editing a previous script to fit the needs of a particular director.
“Wonderful stories can be crafted about people’s inherited characteristics, upbringing, and individual temperament. Characters, just like people, can strive to overcome this baggage and training. Some people succeed in doing so, some can’t, and the same is true of the characters available to our imaginations” (Stein 74).
The key to successful screenwriting is observing common characteristics of those around you and reporting them in a humorous, if not realistic, light.
An application of creative writing is also present in theater. Playwriting is a skill that not only requires an incredible understanding of humor and timing, but also the ability to keep an audience focused and connected with the actors on stage. Playwriting can range from satirical, historical, tragic, musical, and comedic. Playwrights are not typically an ordinary twenty first century profession, usually having other sources of employment such as drama teacher or television writer. Playwrights are not entirely Shakespearean of course, with modern writers like David Mamet, Tennessee Williams, and Sam Sheppard. In order to keep an audience paying attention, the writer must use the art of suspense, combined with an attractive visualization of the scene.
“You can have a remarkable style and intriguing characters, but if your writing doesn’t quickly arouse the reader’s curiosity about what will happen, the reader will close the cover of your book without reading further. Suspense is achieved by arousing the reader’s curiosity and keeping it aroused as long as possible” (Stein 97).
Since this paper lightly touches all of the ways you can make the most of your degree and/or strong interest in creative writing, I might as well mention the job of writing greeting cards, or the pretty pieces of folded paper adorned with a stranger’s personal sentiment you hand out to your closest loved ones. Although it’s not recommended as a main source of income, you can freelance write for some of the popular companies. “The constant flurry of $10, $15, and $25 checks you’re likely to receive as a part-time card poet can pay the rent (and then some), if you’re able to churn out fresh ideas regularly” (Motherearthnews.com). You can also get a job as a writer for a company (such as Hallmark—which no longer takes unaffiliated submissions), as long as you do not mind the slightly degrading task of writing comical captions for clumsy puppies or confessing your love to millions of people on valentine’s day, under someone else’s name.
Along with the topic of writing under someone else’s name is the profession of ghost writer, which sadly has nothing supernatural about it. Ghost writers write novels, articles, songs and autobiographies for businessmen, politicians, and celebrities. Sometimes the ‘author’ of the novel will credit the ghost writer somewhere near the beginning or end of the book, most usually neglecting to tell just how much the writer helped out.
“These people might be celebrities who would impress publishers because of their notoriety through the tabloid or other media, or ordinary people who have undergone extraordinary experiences. Alternatively they might be experts in subjects that the public want to know more about” (Croft 1).
In order to be a ghostwriter you have to be trustworthy with materials that you gain access to and make sure that what the ‘author’ does not want reported does not get reported. If you are someone who has strong moral values or you do not like the idea of lucrative plagiarism, ghostwriting may not be the career for you.
Another outlet for creative writing is simply being a novelist. At first you might not think this enormously practical, but if you have the talent and the time, writing novels is not too ridiculous. Even bestselling authors can have their novels rejected hundreds of times, so do not stop sending your manuscript to publishers and literary agents (but do not contact a vanity press unless it is your last option because even if they did publish Legally Blonde they will call your house multiple times a day and it’s highly irritating). After you have done the hard part and written your book, you have to work on advertising and marketing to publishers and, eventually, the public “One of the ironies of the book business is that while writing is generally a solitary art, the publishing process is all about assembling a great team” (Eckstut 67). The best part is that if you ever do get your book to be a success (the equivalent of Oprah mentioning it once), you can send an update letter to all the publishers that rejected you about your enormous wealth.
The next time someone tells you “You can’t make a living as a writer” or “That’s a dying field”, you take a copy of this research essay along with its cover, and works cited page and heave all combined ten pages at their face. Creative writing can be a very practical field to go into because human beings will always have a hunger for good writing. You might not make millions of dollars or have major motion films made from your novel where they put the actors’ faces on the cover of your book (which is aggravating at best), but you can dream, and dreams are the essence of writing after all.
Cheney, Theodore A. Rees. Writing Creative Nonfiction. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 1991. Print.
Crofts, Andrew. “Andrew Crofts Explains Ghostwriting.” Andrew Crofts Explains Ghostwriting. Andrew Croft, n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Eannarino, Carol. “You Can Earn Money Writing Greeting Cards.” Mother Earth News. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.
Eckstut, Arielle, and David Sterry. The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It— Successfully! New York: Workman Pub., 2010. Print.
Flood, Alison. “Forbes Richest Authors List 2012: James Patterson Takes the Crown.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 06 Jan. 2013.
Newton, Chris. “Salary Range for Freelance Travel Writing.” EHow. Demand Media, 01 Sept. 2011. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.
"Self-Publishing Resources." SelfPublishing Resources RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2013
Stein, Sol. Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies. New York: St. Martins, 1995. Print.
Wyndham, Lee, and Arnold Madison. Writing for Children & Teenagers. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest, 1989. Print.
The ultra bed: the product of a memory foam and dark forces. Causes space and time to warp, making hours seem like minutes.
My first two roommates left for various reasons, leaving me with only sad poetry to write and two extra beds. Since I created the ultra bed I have uncovered many new friends and have barely been able to leave for severe cuddling. I have adopted yet another roommate and we have both tried to rid ourselves of its dreamy clutches. We, however, are too mortal to carry out such whims and the ultra bed stays.
Surrounded by hemlock
I try to think of a poem
To suit this moment
The right stanza
To describe the way
The light filters through
For the sweet coolness
Of Vermont Autumn
But I cannot think
Of a poem good enough
So I write these
Grasping at a handful
Of glorious moments
That will not be mine