Professional Writing and My Self Discovery

     I have always loved the English language. It must run in my family. My oldest brother was a high school English teacher for forty years. My oldest sister wrote some of the best letters I have ever read. While I was in elementary and junior high school, I would diagram sentences for fun. I finally discovered that most people did not enjoy me correcting their speech as much as I enjoyed correcting them. Nothing drives me nuts more than a misspelled word on a sign in a store or especially in a book. Where have all the proof-readers gone? The best thing I ever learned in school was how to read and write.

     While in the second grade, we had to write a very short story on thunder. At my mother’s parent teacher conference, she told my mother she should encourage my writing since I had a good imagination and an excellent command of the language. My dream of writing was born. However, I soon found out I had two challenges. First, I had a difficult time with dialogue. I would be writing a conversation between two or more characters, and all of a sudden it would begin to sound trite and I wouldn’t know how to fix it. The second challenge was someone forgot to tell me that writing is not an exact science, and will need revisions, editing, rewrites, and more editing.  But, I still loved it. I enjoyed making up stories and songs for my kids and grandkids. I would get creative when I made invitations for parties my ex-husband and I threw. I took great pride in my business letters and emails.

     At one point when I went on unemployment, I had to take an assessment of possible career paths. Another time at church, I was given a personality test. Both of these came back with the same results. I tested off the charts in creative. Both said my career path should be in writing, editing, or publishing. That is why it came as no surprise when my Birkman Assessment came back as 97% literary, with the same three career paths of writing, editing, and publishing. I was, however, surprised that it came back at 96% for social service which includes teaching, counseling, and volunteering. I guess that fits since I have spent so much time working with kids at church. This also works with the teacher assistant path that I am currently on.

     According to the Birkman Assessment, I am a “blue,” which is a thinker. I do enjoy looking for new ways to solve problems and generating fresh ideas. Again, this is not surprising. It is surprising that I have no green in my assessment, since green is a communicator. This is the color for teachers and counselors.

     I could not believe how even all my scores were. If my usual was, for example, a score of 54, my needs was also a score of 54. The biggest difference between the two number was 12 points. Dr. Epstein told me this was a good thing, that people know exactly what they are getting with me. One of the biggest compliments I have ever received was a co-worker once told me that he enjoyed working with me because there was no drama with me. Basically, what you see is what you get.

     I have always prided myself on my people skills. There are very few people that I do not care for upon meeting them. As a matter of fact, several people have told me that I should be some sort of counselor. However, according to my emotional intelligence test, I am not as socially strong as I thought. My scores in that area are only 74, 76 and 77. Also, my personal competence, awareness, and management scores are 67, 68, and 69. Apparently, I am not very self-aware, either.

     The importance of emotional intelligence is now scientifically recognized. According to Daniel Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, it has been discovered that teaching emotional intelligence skills to school age children is being embraced by educators. The consensus is that emotional intelligence is just as important as reading and math. This is an important addition to education. The younger the person, the better able to learn new things. Also, the younger the age, the more susceptible to self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Perhaps if children are taught about these emotional issues, they will be better equipped to deal with bullies, anxiety, and depression.

     Along these same lines, creativity is greatly influenced by emotional intelligence. According to The Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Creativity, Geher, Betancourt, and Jewell explain “While not central to survival in all cases, creative behaviors allow individuals to express details of their particular mental processes.” In other words, the higher the emotional intelligence, the more potential for creativity.

     Another subject I found fascinating was the concept of the Theory of Mind. David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano have formed the idea that reading literary fiction can assist with delving into the minds of others. The complexities and unique qualities of the characters warrant exploration. This helps when dealing with real individuals who are similar in character or situation.

     My journey into the world of professional writing has been a long one. While I would have changed some of the detours on my path, overall, I am happy with most of the decisions I have made in my life. I am very happy though with my decision to continue my education at Kennesaw State University. Even as this decision was a circuitous one leading to my now being a graduate student in the Master of Professional Writing Program. I now have the confidence needed to go forward with my career.

     I am not looking to become a tenured track professor, there may be a possibility of becoming a part-time lecturer at a small community college. I am not looking to work 70 hours as an editor but might look into some free-lance copy-editing. I also think that finding a new talent and assisting them with getting their work published would be enjoyable while giving something back to someone else. These are just a few of the possibilities I am considering.

     My main career course that I will be concentrating on, however, is the website I want to begin. My classes in MAPW will definitely assist with this goal. My experiences with my mother and other older adults have helped me identify a need and I want to fill it. Also, there are ideas for a couple of novels and short stories I want to pursue, as well as two creative non-fiction pieces that I have been contemplating for a few years.

     Everything I have learned about myself and my interaction with others will be a huge asset going forward in all these pursuits. This class has given me the tools I need to move forward by showing me where I need to change some of the ways I think about myself and others, where my strengths are and how to hone those skills, and the areas that are not necessary to worry about. My assessments show me what my behaviors are, what my needs are, and what my stressors are so I can discover how to make those work together. I have learned how to work around my “writers block” and how to reset myself so that I may continue my projects. These are lessons learned that I will carry with me throughout my new career.

Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Introduction Page X

Geher, Glenn, Kian Betancourt, and Olivia Jewell. The Link between Emotional Intelligence and Creativity,

 Kidd, David Comer and Emanuele Castano. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” Science Vol 342 18 October 2013