When I was 14, my freshman English teacher dubbed me “The Grammar Queen.” She was an eccentric lady who drove a bright yellow VW Bug. Her favorite song at the time was “Low” by Flo Rida. As the year came to a close, she suggested that I might take AP English Language and Composition as a sophomore. She thought I was ready. So I signed up and took my assigned seat that next September.
That same September, I was also enrolled in English 10 Honors, one of the mandatory four English classes that every student at my high school was required to take. We read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and were asked to write a fictional story with similar themes as a follow-up assignment. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember that it was about a grandfather and his grandson who, at the end of the apparently macabre story, died in a tragic ski accident. I remember that my English 10 Honors teacher didn’t love it (though I can’t imagine why…), and I remember that my best friend’s mom somehow got a copy of it and loved it so much that she carried it around in her purse for a while. I also remember that assignment as the moment when I fell in love with writing for the first time.
Since then, I have graduated with a Bachelor’s in English: Writing and Mass Communications from Assumption College in Worcester. My portfolio no longer includes that imitation Hemingway story (though I must say, what a classic), and I’ve let my “Writing Fiction” ship sail after a particularly bad batch of stories in a college seminar that included one about a marine biologist who moonlighted as a spy. I focused on journalism throughout college, and since graduation I’ve been freelancing for local papers in my spare time because (WARNING: here comes the buzz kill) I didn’t land a job in the field of writing.
Here is my post-grad truth, written down for all to see: I have a full-time job for which I am SO grateful, but it is not the job I dreamed of landing as an undergrad. And that’s ok. Sure, maybe those countless hours staring at computer screens for the school newspaper were a little unnecessary. Maybe my main of source of income will never be from writing in bed while watching Netflix simultaneously (read: dream shattered). But what I realize now, six months and a degree later, is that money doesn’t matter. Well, don’t get me wrong–money definitely matters, at least to me (and I can definitely be bought), but what I mean is that writing, even just for the sake of reading your own words laid out like the truth in front of you , is more important than anything.
So this is where I’m at. I don’t know what this blog will be or turn into, but I know that the thing I miss most about college is how I felt after writing a kick-ass piece for my Creative Writing class. The feeling I find myself yearning for day after day is the one I get in the pit of my stomach when I’m excited about words and sentences I didn’t know I had in me, but that have somehow appeared on the page under my ink-smudged hand.
For my final senior English project, my best friend and I made a video about the value of a college degree in the real world. The last person we interviewed was a poly-sci major who’s hoping to eventually procure a law degree. He ended with a somber (but realistic) quote:
“I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst,” he said with a half smile.
We ended the video with a different quote, a quote that I’ve tried to make my mantra while keeping the latter one in mind, as well: