Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So, I have been mulling about, the thought of finishing school and seriously pursuing a career as a journalist and fiction writer. Establishing credibility in either concentration is a feat in and of its self, and is not mutually beneficial with wide ranging success. But my primary dilemma comes from the school issue. I love California, I love the small and somewhat broken life that I have made for myself, though it could be a lot better, my support system is not what I would like it to be (could be much, much worse, though, I mean, at least I have one), a lot more exciting (but achieving those things is entirely up to me, so I’m not complaining…) and I believe that I would like to make this home a permanent one. I have a tendency to move somewhere, stay for two or three years and then move on (which I think, makes me a good candidate for a foreign correspondent, don’t you? I mean besides the whole being able to write clearly and concisely, report facts in a way that appeals to readers and/or viewers, the general stuff) and I am just past my two years here. I have been contemplating for a long time a move to the East Coast, to seek admission to Brown or Columbia’s Non-traditional student programs. But the issue is, even if admitted, is moving clear across the country the best thing for me; I question why I want so badly to do this. I guess badly is not the correct term; I wonder why this has nagged at me for so long. My options are: return to University of California, Santa Barbara, finish, at the latest, in a year and a half, and only be 2 hours or so away from my friends/surrogate family, the beach is right there, snow is not far away and I pay in state tuition at a pretty good school, especially compared to where I’ve been. Or, attempt to get into (preferably) Brown or Columbia, stay there the mandatory two years to be eligible to graduate, get used to actually experiencing Winter, and traverse the hallowed halls of one of America’s most prestigious schools of higher education. And that last part is what I think has been tugging at me for so long. Hailing from Louisiana, where education is something akin to a farce, and always being told that I had the ability to make it, academically, anywhere I wanted to (and thus, though this may not be true, I began actually believing it), the ego stroke of graduating from a top 15 or 20 college, especially an Ivy League one, has always been one I’ve longed for. Is the cost of moving, the price of a significantly higher tuition, leaving a second family all worth the supposed prestige and academic excellence. At my age, this really should not be an issue; at least I believe it shouldn’t be. And with that degree, am I more likely to be taken seriously as a novice? There is forever the stigma that the West Coast doesn’t produce serious anything – news reportage, intellectuals, artists – there is the permanent stain of an intellectual inferiority complex compared to New York. I mean, just look at the LA Times. It has no true way to compete with the New York Times or the Washington Post, especially given their national and foreign desk strengths, but they keep trying and in the process, completely ignore the local news and therefore, isn’t as widely read in Los Angeles as it should be. What’s a girl to do, how do I refrain from falling (further) into that state of mind? I thought, maybe I could try to get an internship with the Times, but they, apparently, at present don’t offer any (insane) and are in the process of pitching a budget to the publishers to get one established. I’m sure an internship program, right now, is not exactly a top priority with Tribune and Co. Well, what about writing as much as possible, getting my work seen wherever I can, maybe seeing about interning with one of the city’s weekly papers, taking a journalism class or two at UCLA or USC (though currently I am at UCLA Extension, reigning my focus in on Middle Eastern Studies), and pursuing other activities that will make me a well rounded individual with various points of reference with which to use in my writing. Is it possible to be an West Coaster, with a decent degree and a fair amount of drive and ambition and be just as respected as a New York or Washington journalist, with an elitist (not necessarily a negative connotation) education, having racked up a far more substantial amount of debt in the process? Will more opportunities present themselves one way or the other? Should I just stop wasting my time worrying about it, get out of school as quickly (and with the least amount of money owed) as possible and get some real world experience?