Diary of my Creative Writing PhD. Creator of Literary Events, Literary Talks and Creative Co-Producer of Stories at the Storey, North West Literary Salon and Characters in Motion/Off the Page Writing Development Performed Workshops.
Developer of If These Words Could Talk
Writing is a business. Like any successful business the business of writing takes more than passion, desire and talent. Finding the right balance is up to you. Each week I interview writers about how they craft a career with their words. In Episode 10, comedian, novelist, screen play writer and teacher Ramzy Sweis shares insight on pitching, promoting and getting results.
How cool is it to wake up one morning and decide to leave your job and write full time?
Well, without planning, a solid foundation, and a strong support team, quitting your day job might seem cool but it won't pay the bills.
Talking with writer P.A. Chawla helped me put a few things into perspective. I want to make a living with my words not be a starving artist. My children need to eat. I analyze options before I make decisions. Before making any major decision, I outline the main characters of the situation (story), review motivations and consider possible tension and plots. Because I want to make a living, I'm more likely to plan, organize and save before deciding to drop everything and write.
According to Chawla, I'm on to something. In a candid interview, writer P.A. Chawla shares her route to the Writing Life.
It’s not what some
consider a logical degree choice. Logical
choices translate from degree to bank account; from dollars in cost to dollars
in revenue. Logical degree choices don’t just make sense; they make cents—a lot
I am a writer.
What other degree allows
me to write and research engaging topics that interest, love and inspire me? Who
would I be if I didn’t follow my passion? And what will I be if I don’t apply
logic to passion?
It is not logical to
assume I will graduate and no matter how engaging my writing, tumble in to a
full-time Creative Writing faculty position. Despite my modern degree, chances
are I will have to earn my position the old fashioned way: one best seller at a
Each conversation I have
with either an established or emerging writer shows me that it is possible to
craft a career as a writer, as long as I keep a day job and a steady stream of
projects and possibilities. I have to market, promote and network; I have to
establish relationships. I have to treat writing as a business if I want to be
in the business of writing.
In two weeks I am hosting
my first live event. The discussion is a panel of writers, including award winning writer Carys Davies and lecturer, writer George Green, who will share
information, tips and advice about their writing lives: when they knew they
could afford to quit day jobs (if they have); advice for new writers; what they
worry about most.
Each story I hear brings me closer
to my goal; each story I share ensures others will reach theirs.
Join us for the Writing Life Live Discussion on Saturday
at Lancaster University’s Campus in the City at St. Nicholas Arcades (near
Costa Coffee). The discussion is free; the information, invaluable.
Over the past four years I have taught “traditional”
college-aged students in their late teens to early twenties, as well as “adult
learners” and “mature students”; these are all labels that don’t necessarily seem
to translate inside the classroom: they are all students.
My students are individuals with a drive for
individual success, a sense of responsibility and a set of needs that lead to
expectations that I hope to meet and exceed if not the first class, by the
last. Not all of my students are happy about being in a classroom; they don't all want to be there. But the battle is not between them and I; it is not personal. And so I will teach them--but I won't fight them. I don't picture myself forcibly injecting knowledge or administering academic CPR.
Though I struggle with names, I hope to build relationships with each
student and learn their personalities, goals and needs in ways that make sense
to me: I learn about people through their words, mainly through their writing.
As an instructor in various forms of writing, I teach students to write
effectively to reach not just me, but their target audience in whatever arena
they are in.
I’ve been reading a lot about mental health in
education; about students feeling isolated, depressed and lost.
A few weeks ago my daughter saw a young woman step in
front of a bus: grades had just been released.
A reminder to my academic colleagues: give students
the grades they earn and help them work through them. Give constructive,
positive feedback and be available to provide assistance, an ear, a light. If academia
is a battleground for you, if this is your opportunity to “weed out the weak”—consider
another line of work. My job is to provide tools and to teach students how to
think critically and creatively; to build up a generation of thinkers.
Am I asking you to be a therapist, a psychologist, a
It doesn’t matter what name you put on it be a human.