The English major is one that enables college students to pursue a variety of interests, from teaching to writing to law. For me personally, I wanted to be a writer. I had little interest in teaching, and often had to dissuade people from assuming I’d eventually pursue it. When I was graduating college, I pursued a career in publishing. To me, there was nothing cooler than working in any aspect of media in New York City. I’d interned at Simon and Schuster my last semester, and applied to several different editorial assistant jobs to no avail.
I took an administrative job after a summer of no job prospects, a decision I made primarily for financial reasons. After four years, I found myself out of a job, hanging out at home wondering what my next move was. I’d been interested in freelance writing when I heard about it a bit while I was finishing up college, but I didn’t pursue it. I thought it’d be something to look into when I had children and wanted to spend more time at home. I applied on a lark to an ad on Craigslist for a Writing internship with a couple of freelance writers. It was something to do while I was looking for full-time work, and as it was an unpaid gig, it wouldn’t affect my unemployment. To my surprise, I got the internship, and eagerly went to work. It was this opportunity that inspired me to look at freelance writing again, and I dived right into making it a career.
Freelance writing is this great field of making your own hours, disciplining yourself in ways you might not have ever had before, and working parts of your brain that otherwise might have been neglected. There’s something great about having that first opening sentence, that great last word. I think that having an English degree enabled me to appreciate a lot of different ways of writing; it certainly made me understand that there’s as much work in writing as there is in anything else. Yes, it involves sitting down in front of a computer or notepad for long periods of time, but there’s a lot of mental work. I love that mental gymnastics of having to try to work in two different ideas into the same article, for example. My English degree was if nothing else great training into a field that is as broad and as flexible as my degree. And yes, there is money in freelance writing. You’d be very surprised. I can write whatever I want for as long as and as much as I want and enjoy learning about a multitude of things. I figure if nothing else, in the near future I could totally win a game of Trivial Pursuit.