Guest Post by Sarah Hollowell: Dive In, Never Look Back

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Plenty of writers say that. This doesn’t make me special. It’s just true. I’ve been writing stories for so long that I don’t remember when I started. Through elementary school, middle school, and high school, all I wanted was to be a writer.

When the time came to think about college, it seemed natural that I would study creative writing. I was lucky enough to have 11659237_10155730980445697_5123113772051365753_nparents that supported me in that decision. I’ve heard plenty of stories from fellow English majors whose parents watched them go into the program with disapproval, or from students who wanted to major in English but knew their parents would never agree to it. I didn’t have that problem. I just wanted to study writing. And yet, when I started my freshman year, I registered as a religious studies major. Then history. Then anthropology. It took me two years to get around to English.

The summer before I started college, I panicked. I was set to start in a creative writing program at an expensive private school and I doubted all of my choices. I got the chance to talk to a published writer I love and respect. She told me that if I wanted to be a writer, I should study anything except writing. If I studied writing, I’d have nothing to write about.

At this point I’d already heard all of the objections and questions and judgments people have to English majors. What are you going to do with that? Shouldn’t you study something practical? How are you going to get a job? I’d listened to “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” a million times. I had shrugged all of that off.

But when a published writer told me that being an English major would hurt my writing, I freaked out.

I went into the majors that I thought could help give depth to my stories. My classes were interesting. I liked the subject matter. But it wasn’t helping my writing, and I wasn’t happy. It took me two years to stop listening to that voice in my head telling me that I couldn’t study creative writing. Once I dived in, I never looked back.

This past spring, I graduated with a degree in English. My writing has never been better. I studied my craft with brilliant writers. I drew my ideas from the places I always had – my experiences and my imagination. I learned how to research to add depth. It’s not always easy to be an English major. We get told that this thing we pour our hearts and energy into is useless and impractical. Even the people we think will understand can sometimes steer us wrong. It’s easy to doubt yourself.

But if this is your dream, it’s worth it.


If you’re feeling unsure about your major or have any questions related to your major, please consider attending one of the department advising sessions below:

September 14th – 5pm in RB 125
September 15th – 2pm in RB 125
(sophomores are required to attend one of these meetings) 

If you’re in the English Education program, your advising meetings are on the following dates:

October 6th – 11am in RB 125 (freshman)
October 7th – 11:30am in RB 361 (sophomore)
October 7th – 1pm in RB 361 (freshman)
October 8th – 11am in RB 125 (sophomore) 

 

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One comment

  1. Thank you for this.

    This is important–even if you’ve already graduated. After being out of school for two years, I can confirm that one of the most difficult things is reassuring yourself you ARE a worthy writer. Without professors and peers reminding you of that through classes and workshops, it’s easy to lose sight of it and convince yourself not to write because your self-perception is “not good enough.” Remembering to “dive in” is not only difficult, but essential to continuing writing AFTER graduation, as well as before.

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