Researching possible graduate schools turned out be a challenge.
The college I attended for undergrad had a China-level proxy server that blocked most of the internet. No Google, no amazon.com, no e-mail servers. At one point the only way to access any website whatsoever was to send the url to the web administrator and they might add it to the List on the school’s home page. By the time I was looking into grad school they’d become a little more lenient and allowed us to get to a majority of websites unless they had “trigger content.”
Hilariously, this “trigger content” provision excluded any online Bible concordance, because the word concordance has the word dance in it.
However, even with their new-found leniency, the school was still blocking any other university’s website, and taking a laptop off campus was the against the rules. They even sent RAs (we called them floorleaders, but most people know what an RA is, so I use that) out to all of the places that offered free wifi looking for students breaking this rule. We also were not allowed to go the public library. Yes, they sent moles there, too.
The only solution available? I had to take an RA with me to Kinko’s. I could search the internet there as much as I wanted, but only if I had someone literally standing over my shoulder. I knuckled down and just did it. I had to take multiple trips off-campus, and it was a huge pain in the ass, but I found a few schools I was interested in.
One was Oregon State, one was Brigham Young, and the other was Liberty University. All offered English or writing programs, and each had a compelling reason. Oregon’s is just a fantastically famous writing program, Brigham Young features Brandon Sanderson, my favorite author, as a writing instructor there, and the last one was . . . well, it was an evangelical Christian university. Jerry Falwell’s school, “champions for Christ,” the whole bit. (I actually hadn’t really heard of Jerry Falwell, except when he was lumped with other “flaming liberals” like Billy Graham.)
When I decided to pursue English in graduate school instead of music, it was for a variety of reasons. The biggest two being: 1) I hated, no, loathed, performances of any kind after the hell I had endured in undergrad, and 2) I knew I wasn’t good enough to get into a decent music program. And, for me, it was “decent program or bust.” I was a hell of a lot better in English than I was in music, and y’know what?
I’d found a dream.
It was a dream I always had, as it turns out.
I saw Star Wars for the first time when I was eight. I was enthralled, entranced. I wondered at the marvel of the world an imagination had created. I gasped in horror when Darth Vader announced “Luke, I am your father” and then grabbed the front of my father’s shirt and sobbed and sobbed because no, that horrible man just couldn’t be Luke’s father, he couldn’t be, and then I cringed away from the hideousness of the Emperor and gloried in Darth Vader’s ultimate redemption.
So, when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out, my father took my family to go see it–in theaters. To an IFB, theaters are, quite literally, the gateway to hell. Hollywood was referred to as “hell-y-wood,” and the television was the “boob tube.” So, dad didn’t tell us where we were going, and when he parked outside the theater, he told us that we were going to see Star Wars, but we weren’t allowed to tell anyone at church. For good reason– they would have crucified us. Star Wars is . . . well, that “new age tripe” isn’t tolerated very well.
I was again entranced by George Lucas’ fantastic world, and that was when I discovered, you guessed it, Fan Fiction.
I also discovered that while I enjoyed writing– I couldn’t really stop writing and frequently stayed up until three or four in the morning– I enjoyed editing more. I liked doing what is called in the fanfiction world “beta reading.” I helped other fanfiction authors create their stories. And I freaking loved it. Editing was the most fun thing on the planet. I continued being a beta reader through college– and I started helping real-life friends with their manuscripts.
Sadly, it didn’t hit me that Editing is an actual career field. There’s a whole industry based on it, in fact. It also had never occurred to me that I could get paid for it, or get recognition for it. Some of the stories I worked on are published, now– some have done fantastically well, but the community of beta readers don’t get recognized, unfortunately. I also didn’t consider it because it involves getting a real education and then hightailing it off to some big city like New York or Chicago or San Francisco. That just wasn’t… wasn’t considered. A young woman, living, by herself, in New York City? Certainly not.
The conservative Christian world refers to a young person traipsing off to some big city as becoming a “Prodigal Son,” almost always, in my experience. We have tons and tons of Christian books with this theme. Some young person hates their rural town, they leave, become worldly and enjoy their life of debauchery, then something forces them back to their small town and they rediscover their faith and feel horribly guilty about how far they’ve fallen. This is basically the plot of most Christian books.
So, yeah. Becoming an editor? Yeah, right.
But I decided that every single voice in my head that was telling me I couldn’t do this could go screw themselves.