"What are going to use your English Major for? Just because you want to write doesn’t mean you’ll get anywhere with it."
by Marissa "The Machine" Burns, fiction team and social media/web design team member
I’ve heard this statement, muttered in a variety of ways, for over ten years now. And while the people uttering this nonsense usually do so with the best intentions to persuade me to be more realistic with my life, it has yet to deter me from my goals. I’ve known I wanted to write in some way, shape, or form since I was ten, after my best friend and I spent a summer playing games of make believe to entertain ourselves. Creating worlds, giving life to characters, and exploring new ideas consumed my days from dawn ‘til dusk. When I was old enough to start thinking about college, I knew I’d major in English and I was set; there was nothing that would change my mind, nothing else I knew I’d be happy spending the rest of my life doing. And yet, as graduation lies in the horizon, I still get asked ‘what are you going to do when writing doesn’t work out?’
My answer? Write more. If an author starts writing a book and halfway through they realize it isn’t working out, they don’t get a new job; they scrap the book and start again. While I realize becoming a best-selling author is an out of reach goal at the moment, that doesn’t mean it is an out of reach goal in general. Writing is the only thing I’ve been sure of in my life. It’s been my constant for years, the one thing that I knew I could do whenever I was stressed, bored, happy, or sad. Maybe writing won’t pay my bills. Maybe I’ll need to work a dead-end, 9 to 5 job and write during my lunch break and in the evenings. It may not be the most glamorous life, but it is the life I’m ready to live.
I get asked a lot why I write, and what I write, and what I’ll do if I’m never able to get published. And my answer is a simple one. I write for me. I write because it feels right. Because it helped me find a best friend. Find a community. Find a group of individuals where I felt comfortable enough to express myself. Creating a world, with problems and solutions, making up characters to love and hate, it was my way opening myself up.
I write what I want to read. When I’m scanning the shelves at Barnes and Noble or searching for books on Amazon, I try to find new books that will capture my mood in the moment. Often, however, I find something close to what I want to read, but still, it’s not quite what I was looking for. When that happens, I make up my own story line, create my own plot and though finishing a story is always harder than starting one, I find it was exactly what I was looking for.
I might never get published. It’s an upsetting thought but a realistic one and over the years I’ve accepted that. And just because that thought looms in the background of my mind, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing. Just because I don’t get published doesn’t mean I don’t have my own story to tell. And that’s what keeps me going, keeps me writing. Because at the end of the day I don’t write for anyone else. I write for me.
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."