To what degree…?: A Quickie

I’ve been a writer my whole life. I don’t have memories of not wanting to write, always and about everything. I am also a high school dropout.

I’ll spare you the details, but exigent circumstances pretty much sabotaged the end of my high school career. To that end, I have never taken a college course in my life. I’m 28, so it’s not too late, but man… people sure make it seem that way, don’t they?

More than one person, and more than one writer of more than one very shame-heavy article, has told me pretty bluntly that people don’t take a fledgling writer and her first time manuscript very seriously without an English degree. Imagine my terror at the thought, having been under the impression that as organic a talent like writing was something I still needed a degree to prove the quality of. You see that!? I ended a sentence with “of”! I’m doomed from the start!

In your personal opinion, is an English degree the mark of a “real writer”, or at the very least a more rounded one?

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About RicoChey

I'm just an unmarried, childless, thirty-something high school dropout with big ideas and a small attention span. Weave drunkenly behind me as I meander through my own life: a winding path of musings on life, relationships, food, the few politics I can stomach discussing, and probably really dumb stuff like the ratio of Sex and the City episodes wherein Carrie does and does not appear to be wearing extensions.
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5 Responses to To what degree…?: A Quickie

  1. Hell no.

    Regardless of the debt incurred and the stress of working while trying to finish assignments I will always always encourage other adults to get a college education — there are priceless lessons to learn under the tutelage of writing professors. Priceless. That being said, I call bullshit on anyone stating a publisher wouldn’t pick up a writer for lack of a degree. Talent is not learned, it’s honed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. t.s.wright says:

    I’m not in the publishing world but we no longer live in the age of writing being a purely academic pursuit. That snooty era ended mid 20th century.

    I have no doubt that my own writing could be enhanced by a college degree. I would take all the classes I could get in folklore, mythology, Victorian literature, astronomy, cosmology, Egyptology, Quantum Mechanics, genetics, and punctuation.
    I would love to be able to say, “Well my dissertation on the migration of Anansi stories to the islands of…” I believe I could dissert like a mo fo.

    I’m in my mid forties and still hold going to college as my #2 dream. You do have time RicoChey and you should use it. Not to get published but ti increase your earning potential and give you more options to pursue outside of writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rio says:

    My son went back to school at 28 to get a degree in fine art. He graduated with a degree. He said it was really hard. Most of his class mates were spoiled kids with really wealthy parents from other countries. They liked to party. (He had work while going to school) But he got through and he actually managed to get THE JOB he loves. He’ll never be rich but he’s super happy. I would love to be able to go to university. In this country I can do it for free when I am 65.

    Writing however is not something that you need a degree in, you just need nerve and perseverance and if you are lucky someone to support you while you kill yourself submitting work and getting rejected or you try self publishing which requires going to book fairs and community centers and libraries talking about it and hosting writing groups, yada, yada.

    My daughter said that university taught her to write a proposal and that was about it. But I would say it also taught her to push through exhaustion and stick to a path. These things are part of getting a degree and it helps a publisher trust you won’t fade away. Publishing a book is expensive, especially when it doesn’t come with a story people already are interested in, like a famous author, or a current event attached to it. Lots of books that get picked up for television or movies are self-published. Have you looked into that?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. skyllairae says:

    I really love that you ask this question! My answer is definitely NO. I completely agree with the comments already made here and also, I want to offer my experience as well: if getting published and getting a “literary” academic job only relied on having a degree I would already be rolling in it right now. Needless to say, I am not and the only concern publishers I’ve worked with have shown about my degree is if mentioning it makes my author bio too long.

    I love my writing degree and I loved going to school for it despite the huge amount of student loan debt I earned in the process. I believe there is a distinction between school/the degree and education. You can get education with your degree at a school but you don’t need school to find education, especially in any of the artistic fields. The degree gives you one type of experience out of the many experiences life provides.

    You can most definitely be a “real” writer without a degree and having a degree doesn’t make someone a “real” writer. On the subject of what is “real” I refer to the Velveteen Rabbit story. As long as you put love into your writing you are real.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: What’s in a Mystery? | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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