What is your job description?
I am a self-employed writer and editor. My professional writing includes all sorts of fundraising writing for Foundations. The Chi Omega Foundation has been my client for nearly four years, and newer clients include The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and our very own UALR Office of Alumni and Development. I write a range of media for these foundations including brochures, speeches, web content, letters, and more. I’ve also been fortunate to write speeches for Eleni Gianopulos, Baker-in-Chief of Eleni’s New York. My creative writing includes writing across several genres—short fiction, poetry, essays, and book reviews. In my editor role, I am owner and editor at Et Alia Press. I have edited several books for Et Alia, and am wrapping up Scars: An Anthology, which brings together more than 40 contributions on scars of the body. Beyond Et Alia, I am a freelance editor providing feedback for clients about their writing. I have taught at UALR, The Clinton School for Public Service, UAMS, and Wrightsville Prison, but I am not currently teaching. I am also the lucky mother of a very special toddler, and any parent knows that is a job in itself!
How do you use what you have learned from the program on your job?
In surprising and disparate ways. Little bits of knowledge or lessons from this or that class or professor sneak up on me all the time and inform me about whatever it is I’m doing. The program gave me a broad understanding of all the possible directions I could go as a graduate, and I intensely appreciate that.
What courses or aspects of the program helped you in doing your job?
As far as my creative work is concerned, the most influential courses were Nonfiction Writing and Writing for Children, Adolescents, and Families. In the latter, I wrote a children’s book that was the seed for Scars: An Anthology. That class also taught me how to query publishers. My editing class led me to become managing editor of the academic journal Literature and Medicine, which over three years gave me the knowledge base to pull together Scars: An Anthology.
What is your favorite part of your job?
There are many favorite parts. It would be too challenging to choose one.
I love working from home and being deadline based rather than “face time” based in an office (which is how I spent significant time in my former career practicing law). I highly value being able to set my own schedule and being my own boss.
I’ve always loved to edit. Since I was in high school, all my friends would bring their papers to me for opinions about what direction they should go or what would strengthen their stories. It is such a humbling experience to work with a writer on her work, to help her craft the best possible version of it, and to join in a sense of pride in the final product with the author. The writer/editor relationship is one of enormous trust, and when it works, it is really satisfying.
I love taking a creative writing day, and exploring on the page something that has been nipping at the edges of my thoughts, usually for some time before I finally sit down to get to the heart of it at my keyboard.
What advice would you give current PTW graduate students?
Don’t doubt that if you work hard and follow through with what you say you are going to do the professors in our department can help you shape your future.
Set reasonable goals and do your very best to achieve them every day. This doesn’t mean that you will always accomplish everything you set out to, but plugging away each day and checking things off your list gets you places. I used to think that success came in huge breakthroughs, but I’ve learned instead that it comes through daily toil. From that toil comes beauty, harmony, and peace. Dream big, and chip away every day.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the job you want. I started working for the UALR Office of Alumni and Development because I called and asked if they had a writer. They said, “Actually, no . . . ” And after I convinced them they needed me, I had work coming my way. A similar situation happened with The Television Academy Foundation. Even if there’s not an opening on paper, convince your desired employer that you are needed, and you might just create the job you want.
Reach out—to your friends, to your colleagues, to your professors, to those you don’t know—and ask for help accomplishing what you believe in. You need others to make things happen. Convince them of the importance of your vision, and you’ll be surprised who lends a hand to bring it into being.
Be kind. It matters.
Give the benefit of the doubt, especially when you are responding in writing.
Be impeccable with your word. This is of utmost importance when distance working, but is vital any time. Keep the promises you make and follow through with your commitments. Say no if you don’t have time or feel you aren’t capable, because that is better than getting someone else in a bind. People notice how you treat projects, and you’ll get more of the work you want if you can be relied upon.
When it comes to your writing, be prepared for rejection. This is not new advice. Sometimes you need to revise your work. Other times, it is fine like it is and you just haven’t found the right home for it. Just don’t let the rejection snuff out the flame that burns within you. And don’t ever let any one person do that either, whether related to your writing or otherwise.