By Lauren Marchany ’17
Majoring in English allows for a wide variety of career choices. My goal is to be an editor for a publishing house. The class that I found has been the most helpful to reaching this goal is Creative Writing: Novels with Dr. Elizabeth Trembley.
When registration rolled around near the end of fall semester of my junior year, I allowed my best friend to convince me to take Novels with her in the spring. I had wanted to take the class, but I wasn’t sure if I could survive it.
Novels is definitely one of the hardest classes I have taken at Hope. The goal of the class is to study the structure of a novel and then to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. At the end of the class students write a synopsis of their novel and complete a submission packet – as if they were going to submit their book to an agent or a publisher.
Walking out of the first day of class I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that had been thrown at me. It was at this point that the enormity of the task of having to write a novel hit me. I seriously contemplated dropping the class.
However, I decided to look at the class as a challenge. I had never written anything close to a novel, so why not stick it out and see where I end up? The first couple of weeks were easier than I had expected and I began to relax into the class. In hindsight this was a mistake.
At the end of January we began to prepare for the actual novel writing. At this point in the class I began to panic; I had no idea what I wanted to write about and it seemed like everyone else in the class had a semi-concrete idea for their novels.
During the month of February I continually struggled with meeting my daily word count quota and I again contemplated dropping the class. The writing section of the class really helped me appreciate how much work went into creating a novel. February challenged my perspective on my own writing. My entire life I had people telling me that I was a great writer, and then I walked into Novels and had to reevaluate my writing ability. I started to question if I actually had any talent and whether I should be a Creative Writing major because it seemed that every one of my classmates’ novels had stunning plots and were well thought out. I felt like I was just word-vomiting on the page and that my novel did not have any kind of direction. I felt inadequate as a writer and I struggled with this thought all through the writing of my novel.
By some miracle from the universe I had a 50,000 word novel at the end of February. When we got printed copies of our books, I was in complete awe. I couldn’t believe that I had actually written something that took up 173 pages. It was such a great feeling to know that I had overcome my challenges and survived the month.
The next step was to edit the first couple of chapters of our novels and to create a synopsis and query letter. This section of the class was by far my favorite and helped me to solidify my decision to go into editing. I had such a great time helping my classmates improve their novels through workshops and peer edits. Editing my peers’ packets left me with a feeling of accomplishment because I knew that I was helping them to create the worlds they envisioned in their heads. I felt useful and like I was helping to make a difference, even if the novel never got published.
At the end of the class I was thankful that I hadn’t left the class when the work became difficult. Novels helped me to truly realize that going into editing is the right career path for me. I encourage every English major to take a class that might daunt them. The results could be surprising.