Elizabeth McDonnell on Life After Academia

      In May I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University with concentrations in creative nonfiction, travel writing, and publishing. My roughly twenty-three years spent inside the walls of academia had come to an end. It seemed only natural to ask myself: What next?
        As someone who has always thrived in the classroom and enjoyed learning I worried my lessons would end alongside my formal education. I comforted myself by the idea that one can continue to learn and hone one’s skills outside of the walls of academia. I had in fact already started to pave the road for such learning as an editorial intern for Creative Nonfiction and Pittsburgh Quarterly.
        While I learned invaluable lessons as an editorial intern, I took to heart the words of my Independent Literary Publishing professor, Mike Simms. Simms spoke about how those who work in Independent Publishing do so first, out of love and the desire to spread the voices of the writers they believe in.
        When starting out as the marketing intern for SAFTA, I took Simms’ words with me. SAFTA has impressed upon me, as it has other staff members, that if you have to write what you know, you should probably know more. In the same vein, SAFTA has allowed me to extend my love for working within a publishing community beyond the realms of the written word. I’ve enjoyed the moments in which I’ve been able to work outside of what I know, the moments in which I’ve been faced with challenges. The assignments in which I’ve been able to move outside the role of writer and editor have allowed me to learn more in way of design, fundraising, and marketing.
        My future plans continue to revolve around the same desire to learn and grow. SAFTA continues to be a space for growth outside of the walls of academia. As SAFTA’s marketing intern, I’m overjoyed that I’ve been given the opportunity to continue promoting an organization I believe in. Even more, I’m looking forward to being part of SAFTA as the organization continues to be the driving force that allows others to move beyond what they know and enrich their lives as well as their work.


Elizabeth McDonnell, Marketing Intern                                               Image

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