‘Would you like fries with that?’

Having just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) from the University if the Sunshine Coast people around me have remarked with an array of comments like; So what are you going to do with an Arts degree, or as my Nanny put it ‘I don’t know what you are going to do with your degree, but at least you finished University’(thanks), or the infamous joke said to Arts students by any university student not doing an Arts degree, ‘Would you like fries with that?’

Very funny, I laugh at that as much as the next person and if my online application to Maccas or Hungry Jacks were successful then that’s what I’d be doing. But luckily for me I was rejected. And if you’re asking yourself where on earth is the University of the Sunshine Coast? Then I can assume you are not from Australia and that you are excused from that query. And for everyone wanting the answer, it’s Australia’s youngest university being born in 1996 located on the Sunshine Coast located in Queensland.

So returning to the question of you wanting fries, and beginning to sound like my boyfriend who sometimes speaks in essay format to me, my Arts degree can become as useless as that ‘Num Lock’ key on the keyboard, or it can give the skills and confidence to pursue the up-hill battle of becoming a published author. So far the most valuable skill my lecturers and tutors at USC (not uni of California, but the other USC) is that I will be rejected over and over, and so far I have. A sample first chapter sent to Pan MacMillian’s Manuscript Monday and Allen & Unwin’s Friday Pitch have resulted in no response and the daunting request of new authors needing an agent to get someone to look at their manuscript leave me feeling dejected. Not only that but notion that my story doesn’t have to be ‘good’ or even well written; just commercially viable does dampens me (we all have ‘that book’ we know is shit in our thoughts). But if creating a work of storytelling art means that I have to go left, while everyone is going right then so be it. If I can’t publish through an established publishing house then I will go it alone and self publish.

Before a couple of weeks ago I’d never meet a self-published author before. But after I’d just finished university I went home to visit Mum and Dad for a bit. In the local newspaper paper there was a notice about a local woman who had recently self published her first novel and was giving a talk at the library. Her name was Sara Skinner ( http://www.saraskinner.com.au/ ) and unlike me she had never gone to university. In fact she had stayed in the area she had grown up in. Sara went through Amazon.com’s Createspace, after being rejected by 15 to 20 agents (ouch!) but who had said that they liked her book, but it wasn’t commercially viable. Sara went on to get her book published in the US and a copy is made whenever an order is placed through Amazon. I remember her saying that the company she prints with (I am unsure of who they are) charges $6.95-ish for a copy and Sara adds that and extra for retail sale. She also got her sister to design the cover so she was able to communicate what she wanted.

Before actually meeting Sara in person I always imagined self-publishing as a far off idea, but it’s just come a lot closer and within my grasp. And if Sara, a person with no formal training can achieve publication, than so can I. 

3 thoughts on “‘Would you like fries with that?’”

  1. Dear Stephanie,
    I am considering doing a Bachelor of Creative Writing at the Sunshine Coast University. Did you enjoy this course and was it helpful at all? Would it be a course you would recommend? So far, if I suggest that I may do this course, people look at me like I have something unusual on my face.

    1. I would recommend it wholeheartedly because it helped me a lot with my creative writing. The class sizes are small so the teachers can give you more attention to you and your work. Also you get the same teachers, as they teach multiple classes, so you can develop a good relationship with them. The course also gives you practical advice on the publishing industry because it is hard to break into (the teachers have been published) and I was under no illusion as to how people will reject my work. Also when I was at uni every creative writing class I did we had to do a story and they make you critically look at it. By the end of the course my skills had definitely improved.
      I would also recommend that you think about what you want to do after the degree is done. Depending on what you want to do you can do postgraduate degrees/masters etc in publishing, editing, communications, journalism etc. Or maybe do a double degree in creative writing and something else that you like because everyone needs backups. This other degree is what my partner calls a “trade degree” and they are things that have a high chance of netting you a job while you work on your passion (things like accounting, engineering, medicine, law etc).

      Also don’t pay attention to what other people think of you doing this course, it’s your life and you’ll live the way you want to. All that matters is what you think and feel about it.

  2. Thank you so much for your reply. You have been very helpful. I wish you all the best in the future with your writing and will look out for your name on a published novel one day.

    Happy New Year. Kind regards, Gemma

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