MSEJ November 2018 - Page 6

When I came to this job two years ago, I had an MFA degree in Creative Writing, a desperate desire to stop adjunct teaching, and vague ideas about what it might mean to work as a freelance writer. The trouble was, I had no idea where to begin (Yes, I did check the internet. There’s a lot out there.).

Although my three-year MFA program gave me a chance to take myself seriously as a writer, a heady reading list, and a thick skin from time spent in workshops, I didn’t know how to be a professional writer and editor. There wasn’t a practical course titled “write and get paid" before graduation.

Let’s face it, most writers need a day job. Barring the support of a benevolent philanthropist or a kind spouse making serious cash, writers still have to make rent and buy groceries (not to mention all that paper). Some writers teach; others work in marketing, engineering, medicine, or service industries. We’re everywhere, taking notes in the margins.

I started out as a volunteer writer and editor, capable of a press release and an article or two, petrified that I’d accidentally launch a half-finished MSEJ while I experimented in layout. I joined calls for the Communications Department, jotting notes and learning names as I practiced making pitches and kept track of the editorial calendar.

Within a year, I was directing my first issue of the MSEJ, guided by my managers. I headed the calls, took pitch ideas, made contacts, and kept the calendar afloat. We PCSed the same month my first journal came out.

In the year that followed, I wrote and revised more than I had since grad school. While

One for the Road

By Emilie Duck

I wrote my first freelance writing resume and cover letter less than 48 hours before I applied to CASY & MSCCN. I scrolled through LinkedIn® accounts, messaged friends, and laid on the floor staring at the ceiling, wondering why my resume refused to write itself. I submitted the essays and articles I’d written as a freelance portfolio, even though I’d been too afraid to submit them to literary journals. My phone interview a week later was the first I’d been on in years.