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What do you do with a B.A. in English… and a love for digital media?

In an effort to make this blog an actual thing that actual humans (and the occasional small rodent) might enjoy reading, I’m going to stick a few personal posts here. Hopefully that will also make it easier to transition it back to ds106 work and whatever else I want to do with this space post-graduation.

Last week I attended the annual Sweet Briar Creative Writing Conference, a four-day event for undergraduate creative writers who’ve been nominated by the faculty of their respective schools. My poetry workshop was headed by Leah Naomi Green, the conference was organized by John Casteen, and I was introduced to the poetry, prose, and nonfiction of some amazing contemporary authors (if you aren’t reading Dave Lucas’ poetry, by the way, you are missing out on some astounding work). The good: after being immersed in brilliant creative writing and keeping the company of amazing writers for four days, I felt like the writing thing, maybe even the teaching-of-writing thing, was a real possibility for my life. The bad: where does that leave all of my work with new media?

There’s a lot being said right now about print, ebooks, and where publishing and writing are headed. Nobody has answers, and that’s okay. We won’t know until we get there. As far as my postgrad studies are concerned, though, I’m not sure how to reconcile my love of nerdy things, video games, webcomics and innovative edtech, and the more traditional way I approach creative writing. I want (finally, I think I can admit this) to be a writer. I’m a better speaker, that much is obvious to me, but poetry makes my heart work. I want to be part of that. I want to make it and share it with other people. The idea behind an MFA program, which I’m seriously considering now, is to immerse yourself wholly  in the process of writing for two or three years. It’s not usually (from what I have learned) an interdisciplinary process, unless you’re doing research for your poems. I haven’t figured out a way to wed that to digital studies yet; I worry that if I go to grad school for one area I’ll lose momentum with the other. I’m the kind of person who needs to be immersed in something to keep up with it and keep doing it—it’s annoying, but at least I know that’s how I roll.

Here’s the big scary part: if I pursue the MFA and become a teacher, I can easily integrate digital media from there. I can help my classes explore the idea of what it means to have an online presence as a writer, what “unpublished” means when you have a website that showcases your own work, how you can use a website to own that work in tangible ways. But what if I get to my first TA job and hate it? What if I don’t possess the special kind of crazy passion it takes to teach, and teach well? I don’t want to inflict myself on students unless I have something real to offer them. I’ve had enough shitty teachers in my life to take that seriously, at least. Earning an MFA is, after all, not a thing you do to get a job. It’s a thing you do because you want to write.

Plan B, then, is to apply to some digital media programs. Maybe explore some digital journals during my MFA days, something like Better or maybe Shenandoah or The Rumpus or Blackbird. Hopefully I won’t be so out of practice at that point that nobody will take me, which is the other huge fear.

Maybe I have to shut up and try. Maybe that’s the part that scares me most. And maybe that’s okay, as long as I end up doing something.

2 Comments

  1. Small rodent reporting for comment duty… Quite a dilemma having too many passions to pursue. Any rambling that follows can be skipped- I cannot tip your scales, but can only assure you that you will will excel in either branch of the road. And unlike the paths in the Woods of Sandburg, they are not divergent.

    I know zero of the literary and poetry.writing world or of the life in grad school thereafter. Like you suggest, the “nerdy” stuff you love can be a vehicle that you use in teaching, and I can see no reason why this digital space cannot be part of your reflective journaling.

    Same said, if you pursue the path of digital media, nothing stops you from exploring poetry, and not just as a quaint “I’ll do this in my spare time” thing which we know how that goes. The field of digital humanities is one that sounds on the surface of bridging.

    Espite my field of work, if I wer to tip the giant scales or use a weighted coing to flip, I’d say make a run at your poetry. The people I know in my own field all come that way by years of immersion on a subject area, my oen in Geology, and a grounding in an expertise seems to be a solid foundation.

    And there is nothing to say you cannot change the path you are on (ugh that was not a stairway to heaven reference, I promise).

    Heads or tails? 2 out of 3? 67 out of 100? Just keep blogging, willya? Where is 300/2?

    • aetherbunny aetherbunny

      Wow.

      I think I was waiting for someone to tell me what you just did, and I can’t thank you enough for saying it. Seriously. Your encouragement is huge.

      No worries about my blogging coming to a halt–I’ll need to work out new ways to motivate myself once the semester ends, but there’s always ds106 for that. 🙂 The fact that the folks you’ve worked with have come from many different fields is validating and extremely reassuring; I’m on the right track, then, in pursuing what I love. From there I can swing back around to digital media.

      300 (2) (and 3 and 4 and so on) have actually been happening! But mostly in the course of character exploration stuff between friends of mine. The next official one will be up soon.

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