Get on the “write” path at GV

Chris Slattery

For your entire life, you knew exactly what you wanted to be. Whether it was doctor or a lawyer or a candlestick maker, you were sure of your career pathway and would take all of the necessary college classes to get yourself there (Waxology 260, etc.). You expect to feel a wonderful satisfaction of follow-through when you receive your diploma, signifying that your dreams as a child are now fully realized. Go get ‘em, tiger — the kid inside of you must be so proud.

…Unless, of course, that you get to college and realize that your aspirations of becoming a candlestick maker were just a sham. You didn’t so much want to be one as much as you liked the idea of being one instead. Heck, I’d be halfway to being a rock star right now if I didn’t know that the path was full of money and groupies. I call it the Nickelback Plan.

Where do you go from here, after the disillusionment of your purpose in life? Play music on the street until people throw coins at you to stop? I call it the nickel-back plan.

Might I suggest the writing major?

I know it sounds repulsive right now, but hear me out (or, rather, read me out — a writing joke!) and see if I can’t at least plant the seed of possibility in your brain.

First off, let me address a lot of assumptions about writers and writing as a career:

1. There is no money in it.

2. Most writers are eccentric narcissists.

3. You can’t ever stop writing.

Um… yeah, all of those are true.

Have I persuaded you yet?

Okay, seriously, writing is not the most glamorous or respected fields on the job market — if the job market were a mall, writing would be located by Spencer’s Gifts and Hot Topic — but it has some of the best upsides out there. To me, being a writer is a lot like being an athlete: no fixed hours, unmitigated success if you are really, really good, and little kids everywhere want your autograph.

Not now, Timmy. I’m working on a column.

Writing as a major is also great because it’s something you can work on at anytime. Think about other majors: pharmacology, pre-law, secondary education. If you have any down time, it can be rather difficult to practice what you are going to school for. Sure, you can write lesson plans and research case precedents, but when it comes to actually doing what you really want to do — teaching children about the Civil War or performing an autopsy or teaching children about performing autopsies — there is a specific time and place for that. Parents don’t want you just talking to their kid, and cutting up a body behind a Jimmy Johns in downtown Grand Rapids is somehow frowned upon by the medical community.

Writing, on the other hand (if you’ve run out of paper), can happen anywhere. All you need is the drive to keep telling your story about Baroque composer cyborg made out of a transition metal on a mission to stop crime forever.

You call it the “Nickel-Bach Plan.”

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