Welcome to editing, writing, and media! I have to admit, when I first joined, the thought of being an English major was enough to make me start laughing hysterically. Who, me, an English major? Never, I would say. Well, here I am, and maybe I have my high school English teacher to blame for my distaste but maybe I also owe it to him. Either way, editing, writing, and media was still a relatively new major when FSU first took it on as a branch of English. So there were a few things I didn’t know–and it would have been nice to know them. We all find out in time, but it can’t hurt to get a little advice, right? Here’s what I wish someone would have told me:
1. Let’s talk about reading
You may not be a literature major, but this is still English and the amount of reading required is still extensive. I’m sure that if you got into this major you have a love for reading, writing, and books in general. The reading most often required can goo back several centuries and maybe about subjects that are less than enjoyable. Often times, the central themes are the history of publishing and printing, as well as illuminated manuscripts and the structure of the page. I know none of it sounds exciting but if you have a love for reading and can find aspects you enjoy about these readings, you will do just fine.
2. Take a class with Dr. Hand
Dr. Hand is an English professor here at Florida State with special interests in illuminated manuscripts, Shakespeare, and the internship class you will take to graduate. My personal experiences with her have been through the internship class (currently) and the History of Illuminated Manuscripts class offered at FSU (spring 2019). She has a genuine passion for reading and the history of the text that is infectious, and she can’t help but pass this onto her students. This isn’t a “rate my professor” review, but if it was, she would get five stars with a three for the level of difficulty. If you must know, I got an A in her class. She really is a joy to have as a professor, I highly recommend any class you have the opportunity to take her with.
3. Editing Manuscripts is incredibly difficult
Editing Manuscripts is one of the EWM classes, level 4000, offered for English students. It is not required unless you are using it to satisfy the 3/4000 level classes need for the EWM major to graduate–in this case, it will be used toward your major classes. However, if you do decide to take it, fair warning, it is a huge challenge. Remember in fourth grade, when you were sipping Capri Suns juice pouches and learning where to use commas, colon, semi-colons, and conjunctions such as “however”. Well, it’s like that, but harder. The amount of depth and exceptions put forward in the class makes what you thought you knew look like a small puddle. I am struggling. Although, it is such a beneficial class if you want to become a better writer and editor. I do recommend it but only if you’re dedicated to studying for it.
4. Writing and Editing in Print and Online
Writing and Editing in Print and Online, also known as WEPO, is one of the three core classes required for EWM students at FSU. The understanding you will gain in this class is how to connect older works of text such as movies, books, and music and remediate this into new works. The basis of the workload is project-based, in a group and individually–if you’re thinking that this class doesn’t sound like your thing, I didn’t think so either. However, I found that it was the class that I learned the most in, I figured out to create projects online through new media platforms, how to make an online portfolio for future employers, and I even designed my own version of a Vanity Fair magazine. I’m not going to lie to you, a year later and I will still show my design to anyone who will listen. You think you’ll dread it now, but it will build your foundation, I guarantee it.
5. Round yourself out with Creative Writing and Literature
I know we all signed on to be EWM majors; however, the English department is full of so many different types of classes that are fun and creative. Creative Writing has many opportunities for writers to perfect their craft in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more. I have actually found that by branching out of EWM and experiencing other classes, it is aiding my reading and writing abilities for EWM classes. I keep hearing, to be a great writer and a great editor, you have to read great writing. Build off of this; sure you know where to put a comma or who invented the printing press, but it’s also beneficial to read and practice writing as well.
6. Don’t take more than three English classes at once
Let me tell you. Do not take more than three English classes in one semester. I know you saw it above, but I have to reiterate. I am currently in four English classes while completing an internship, working 30 hours a week, and volunteering for two organizations. Maybe some people can handle this without an issue, if you are one of those people, I applaud you. However, if you are not, and you are heavily involved in other aspects of campus or a job, set this limit for yourself. Now, you are only taking classes without working or involving yourself too much in outside organizations, then you could take more. The issue comes with the workload, the heavy amount of projects and reading can begin to pile up. It comes down to knowing yourself and what you can handle.
7. Get advice on teachers and classes
Every school has its fair share of professors who, for the most part, are not well-liked by their students. Whether this is due to their lack of passion or attention to their students, there could be many reasons why. It goes without saying that having the reviews and opinions of others to go off of, you will be better prepared for the class–if you decide to take it.
8. Attend literary events
The first literary event I attended was for an assignment for a fiction technique class. Upon stepping into the bar in Collegetown called “The Bark”, I was greeted by the smells of tofu and alcohol. The lights were dimmed and the author speaking was Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things, and a graduate from Florida State University. Long story short, if you love books and poetry, these readings are full of people just like you. It’s great for making connections with people just like you and for gaining a new love for books you never knew you’d like. Some of them are even themed for the holidays. I was originally terrified to go into such a new environment but now I seek these out as opportunities to find new genres and authors.
9. Take a class with Professor Kyllikki Rytov
Professor Rytov, I can say with complete confidence, is one of my biggest mentors and favorite professors in the English department at FSU. I had the pleasure of having her twice, once for ENC2135 and another time for Rhetoric. In each class, she evokes discussion and conversation from her students with ease and promotes their individual ideas and passions. She is supportive when she knows her students need it and this, in turn, allows them to dedicate themselves more effectively to her class and their studies. I’m not writing her a reference or anything but she deserves props for her wonderful teaching. I think you would be missing out not to have met her.
Internships, the very reason I am talking to you right now. It is fairly clear that as humans, we learn best by doing, and this is the benefit of this graduation requirement. The career field that is open to us as EWM majors are getting more difficult to get into. Only through experience are we able to gain a leg up on those around us with similar studies and résumés. Don’t think of this so much as a requirement but an opportunity for growth in your field. It’s also a way to gain an understanding of what you will be doing after you graduate and if it is really your passion. FSU does a wonderful job preparing you for applying to these internships through the career center. They can provide you with practice interviews, help to create a profile on Handshake, and résumé workshops. Not to mention, the English department keeps their own log of internships that students have done in the past that you can use to begin applying.