What will I do with a writing degree? A lot

By AmberMeade

I’ll never forget the first story I wrote as an 18-year-old freshman in the Fiction Writing Department. I had watched “My Own Private Idaho” for the first time, so naturally my piece was about male prostitutes. Despite not knowing what the hell I was doing and being one of the few students in the department who hadn’t grown up consuming literature religiously, it was an exciting time because no topic was untouchable. And I owe my biggest thanks to one man who led me here.

Billy Kaplan, you inspired me to take the huge leap of applying to Columbia’s Fiction Writing program. Although I still grapple with the insecurities that popped up midway through my time here, and I have to sometimes knock out that bastard internal critic, I wouldn’t have believed that I have stories to tell if it weren’t for you.

Allison, my big sister, best friend and partner in crime, I know you wanted a little brother so you could name him Sylvester, but you managed to eventually accept me instead. Thank you for not caring that I write about you—or are you flattered? Your story is one that people should know because it’s proof of your resilience. And though I don’t express it enough, that’s one of the attributes I admire most about you. If only Mom could see us now. She would be proud of the badass women we’ve become and will continue to be.

Oh, The Chronicle, while my relationship with you and copy editing is filled with hostility, affection supersedes that. Spending countless hours and 90 or so production days hunched over that desk, maintaining the battle wounds of pen marks and Wite-Out stains, as they were once described to me, it has all made me a better copy editor and writer. Brian, Gabby and others I’ve worked with on the copy desk, especially my mentor, Lisa Wardle, I would’ve lost my mind if it weren’t for you all. Thanks for the laughs galore, peeps. Chris, it’s been an honor being your right and left hand this semester. I can only hope my future bosses are like you.

Blanca Sandoval, my relationship with you is a lot like the one I have with The Chronicle. I cherish the hilarious moments we’ve shared during the last six-and-a-half years, especially throughout college. I also appreciate your candid critiques of my writing and psychoanalyzations of my semi-autobiographical characters. I look forward to our married-couple arguments as we dive into our separate fields. We made it!

I have only one regret: passing up my first possible publishing opportunity sophomore year because I was too much of a coward to release such a personal account out into the world. I also believed it wasn’t good enough, but when I think this way now, I always remember what my Screenwriting I professor once said: “There are three steps to writing: s–t, bulls–t and holy s–t.”