Writing in the 21st Century

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My name is Kaitlyn and I’m a writer.  Usually when I say this, silence enters the conversation.

“You’re a journalist?” my stranger or family member will finally ask.

“Not quite,” I say.

“So you write books.”

“I’m trying,” I’ll confess.

This is where the conversation gets awkward and trickles into talk about the spinach dip at the party or the hot or cold or rainy or windy weather outside.

It is still a misconception that journalist and author are the only careers for writers (or, at least, a way to make money).  And this is quite surprising because, now with technology rapidly advancing, the application of words surrounds us.  We read blogs, social media posts, websites, emails, catalogs, billboards, manuals, brochures, posters, recipes, travel guides, print and (whether we want to or not) online ads–the list is almost endless.

And who wrote those?  It was a writer.

Today, with these ever-changing advancements, writers disguise themselves behind different names, such as marketing manager or communications coordinator or social media specialist or filmmaker or publisher or professor or tutor or translator or agent or publicist or columnist or critic.  These professions may not allow the writer to write 100% of the time, but the writer is still writing about something important to an audience that has a demand for it.

And doesn’t the writer love an audience!

I surely didn’t understand this when I was eighteen.  My plan was to write a novel while I studied creative writing at college, believing that I would have a publishing contract and book tour waiting for me on the other side of the graduation stage.  But when I barely could crank out five chapters by the end of my senior year, I was relieved that I got accepted into an M.F.A. program.  I thought for sure that, after three grueling years of perfecting my craft, my graduate thesis would be the polished manuscript every publishing house wanted.

Let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.

I had my aha! moment when I got my first office job as a marketing assistant at Columbia College Chicago.  I found it strange that the marketing department wanted someone with creative writing experience, but after the copywriting and campaigning and event planning and social media-ing, it made sense.  Marketing depends on accurate research, creative problem solving, understanding the target audience, seeing the big picture and scrutinizing over miniscule details, and (of course) immaculate writing skills.  This is exactly what the writer in me loves to do, but I was so fixated on my one goal to be an author that I had closed my eyes for a long time to the other numerous possibilities of fulfillment in writing field.

I am a writer.  I’m still searching (longer than I’d like to admit) for that full-time career in any writing guise, but I’m always writing.  I’m writing my novel-in-progress, sketches for plays, cover letters, queries, and now–a blog.