The Write Way to Go Back to School | HumorOutcasts

The Write Way to Go Back to School

August 31, 2015

Every year, Poets and Writers Magazine comes out with what they call the MFA issue. Every year, I look through the pages and sigh. “I should really do that.” I tell myself. So I look at all of the programs, realizing they all have one thing in common.

To go on and get your master’s degree, you have to have a bachelor’s degree first. And I don’t. Surprised? Don’t be.

Wrong Major(s)

I graduated from high school with the aspiration to be a writer. As with many of my generation, my high school counselor found that quite amusing. “You’re really talented as a storyteller. But what will you do for a living?”

So because I excelled in math, I started at Arizona State University majoring in aeronautical engineering. There was only one minor problem: I hated engineering.

engineeringSo I moved back to my home state of Idaho and started at Boise State University. There, I majored in women and beer. Pretty quickly I figured out I wasn’t in a degree program, and the career options were pretty low income, and not really desirable.

Wrong Turn(s)

Wrong_way_signDue to my choice in majors, I quit school, went to work, and got married young. Because sex feels good, kids soon followed. I never truly gave up. I went back to school several times, collecting many majors:

  • English
  • Astronomy
  • Social Work
  • Pastoral Studies
  • Secondary Education
  • History
  • Library Sciences
  • Business Management
  • Philosophy

To go with my areas of study, I embarked on several career paths. Basically, I developed an extensive collection of name tags and hair nets from such jobs as:

  • Grocery Clerk
  • Dorm Manager, Salvation Army Homeless Shelter
  • Jack in the Box Manager
  • US Army Soldier
  • Pizza Delivery Driver
  • Newspaper delivery (not your local crap, but the Wall Street Journal)
  • Warehouse Order Picker
  • Dairy Worker
  • FedEx Driver
  • Ski Instructor
  • Mountain Bike Trail Marshal
  • Museum Exhibit Designer
  • Construction Worker
  • GIS Technician (Global Imaging Software)

I stopped telling people what I used to do. No one believed me. Invariably, in each field, someone thought I had a degree of one sort or another. I never corrected them.

right wayThen I embarked on a career as an freelance author and editor. A great gig, working at home most of the time, with a twelve step commute and no need for programs by the same name. But  a divorce disrupted my career, and with primary custody of my son, I needed something different. Like a regular paycheck, and the ability to prove I made money.

I’ve changed my mind about that MFA. I’m more likely to go for an MA in writing and rhetoric so I may be able to go on for my doctorate someday. At least I can teach writing while I write. But first I need to get my bachelor’s.

Of course, I am a perfect example of a non-traditional student, with scattered credits and math skills now decades old. With a kid at home, freelance work, and a job, the best option seems to be embracing technology and attending classes online.

It’s almost like starting over, but I’ve finally decided what i want to be when I grow up. Now I just have to figure out how to go back to school the write way.

Troy Lambert

Troy Lambert is a bestselling thriller writer and a blogger. His blog posts tend to be much funnier than his books, because his dog helps write them. More writng, and Troy's Books at or follow him on Twitter @tlambertwrites

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10 Responses to The Write Way to Go Back to School

  1. September 4, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I’ve wanted to be a full time writer since I was fourteen … I’ve been an emergency dispatcher for over twenty years. You don’t have to go to college to get derailed, it seems.

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:00 am

      True. Life can derail you easily enough it seems.

  2. September 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    We must have had the same guidance counselor. Thanks for a fabulous post!

    • September 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      You’re welcome. That dude was special for sure.

  3. Bill Spencer
    August 31, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    It seems you’ve engineered your life so that now you can go with the flow.

    (I wish you great success.)

    • August 31, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.

  4. August 31, 2015 at 10:18 am

    If only I had read the Wall Street Journals that I delivered, my life may have been changed forever.

    • August 31, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Yeah, but you might have turned into a jerk. A lot of smug, entitled jerks read the WSJ.

      • August 31, 2015 at 1:14 pm

        I hear you. Delivering them was tough. You think the old lady in your neighborhood was picky. Try the folks who order the journal delivered to their house every day. They all want front door service.

  5. August 31, 2015 at 10:04 am

    This was too funny. I am so glad you are putting on your mentoring cap for the young college kids starting out. And I am impressed you delivered the Wall Street Journal. Once you do that, can a six-figure power job be far behind?

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