The difference between writing a story and a novel

The first day of my college career, I was late. The elevator wasn’t working that day and I ran down five flights of stairs and when I finally entered the maze that was the school, I got lost. When I finally entered the classroom five minutes late, sweating and red faced, it felt like everyone was staring.

I felt sick. Cursing my failed alarm clock.

It had always been my plan to be a writer, even when I was young and my teacher gave me my first Shel Silverstein book, I wanted to write. Mind you, I wasn’t a prodigy, I didn’t write beautiful sonnets or describe a rose by any other name, but I liked it. It was something I had always been good at.

What never occurred to me was that journalism and creative writing are different.

There is no way to connect the two, but yet a lot of the people I met in my program wanted to do that. Be an author.

High school writers craft and everyone’s a writer. Myself included. 

I like to tell myself that I never deluded my brain into thinking it would be easy. I like to think that I knew journalism was a different breed of writing. But the difference between writing a story and writing a novel are so glaringly obvious, I must be lying. 

I remember when I decided I would be a journalist, it was right after someone told me I couldn’t make it as a writer, that there was no money in it.

And I remember when I decided I didn’t want to be a journalist. The first year of my program I almost failed my writing for newspaper class. Terrifyingly enough, no matter how much I tried to change my style, I continued to fail my articles.

You must be straight to the point. No flowery language.

“Tell me what you mean, don’t beat around the bush.”

To write a convincing article you must tell the reader something they don’t already know, and tell them in the least amount of words as possible.

This is much harder then that 26 word sentence implies.

Understanding that something you thought you wanted isn’t the right thing for you is devastating. Especially after having worked for two years to be able to afford it and are still in debt. But continuing on in something you know you aren’t cut for is worse.

I am graduating from this program in June knowing that this isn’t the career path for me and the knowledge that being late to school on your first day, isn’t really that big a deal.


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