The Gift and the Curse of Higher Education

Warning: I’m not much on blogging, but I’ll give it a try. Writing what I think and feel directly isn’t my strength with the written word.

Returning to school turned out to be one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced in life.

School didn’t just provide facts, figures, and textual information for a variety of subjects, but a whole network of people pursuing some of the same goals. I was surprised to see that meeting so many people with the same or similar goals as I was not intimidating. Instead, I’ve found support, a network of people reaching for something in a business landscape that already promises hurdles in selective editors, huge publishing houses where a writer might as well be a gnat in a wind of gnats, self publication (some are great, some are terrible) and readers that can choose from millions of writers to read. And those writers are good, really good. It’s daunting that I’d dare, along with my peers to reach for a place among those that already paid their dues.

We dreamers are not alone.

I am 37 years old. I have many skills to pursue a number of jobs, but my passion is writing. My focus is fiction.

My home life is busy. Messy. Yep, the word stands alone as I look around at the stacks of papers and books, coffee cups, and pens. I have my two daughters that both distract, entertain, and teach. I am blessed. Their words are dialogue rich. Between my girls and my numerous nieces and nephews, I have an endless supply of child logic.

Since school, I’ve gotten involved in writing for a small press called Calamities Press, ran for political office (U. S. Senate MN), created a couple of writing groups, and served on Student Senate. I’ve been published. Yep, published, it’s small and local, but a start. Best of all, I learned new tools for writing that I never knew before and can incorporate them into my work. I’m writing stories that never would have come to me, except for the gift of school, more accurately the gift of my talented professors.

A university education isn’t for everyone. It’s expensive. Let me repeat that. It’s expensive. It’s bureaucratic with so many rules and regulations one wonders if they’re really a customer paying for a service or servant to the system called education. Tread with caution into higher education. My political involvement in recent years was inspired by my ire at horrible practices in education on the bureaucratic end. It’s costly and ineffective in a number of ways, but this isn’t really about that. This piece is about what I gained.

I gained a network of individuals that are like me, adventurers of words, those that dare to go into the unknown without guarantees. We have no safety net, well many of us don’t. I am lucky. I have other options and support, but my desire to write is greater. Hence, I am here treading the waters of learning in a formal expensive setting.

I am learning about the craft, poetic device, creative nonfiction, and gained a large toolkit that I shall always carry with me. I met some of the best writing professionals I am lucky enough to also call professor who gifted me with their experience and expertise. I have a group of students and peers in writing that I hope to always utilize as I go forward for support and talking craft long after we’ve earned our degrees. As students, we’ve heard it directly from the horses mouth or in this case the writer’s pen, word processor etc.

For these things, school is a gift, for the expense it is a curse, but one I have gladly taken on for the sake of my art.

I am not alone.

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