Today we feature junior Writing Arts major Eric Uhorchuk of Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County). Eric is in the 4+1 Writing Arts program, an accelerated pathway where he will earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years. We featured Eric, along with two 4+1 program classmates, in this article for Rowan Blog. Today, he shares more about the program, his time at Rowan and his future plans.
What is Writing Arts?
Writing Arts focuses on creative writing, publishing, professional writing as well as technical writing.
What are some of the things that you do as part of the major?
As part of the major, you pretty much learn about every sector. If you focus on creative writing, you focus on the different genres of writing like fiction, nonfiction and poetry. If you go to public and professional, you learn how to use websites, social media, how to edit and copy. Technical writing is just a lot more of the nitty gritty and how the actual writing process happens.
What are some of the opportunities that students have outside of the classroom within this program?
There are so many. There are a bunch of different internships that you can do with the department, Singularity Press, Glassworks in the master’s program, as well as other clubs like the Writing Arts Club and Undead Poets Society.
You can really do anything in the department. There are so many opportunities and nearly every job needs a writer in some form.
What do you do for your internship at Glassworks?
At Glassworks, my title is Associate Editor. So I take in and read submissions, I vote on which submissions get into the magazine, I help edit them, as well as I go to different conventions and just kind of do general upkeep of spreading the word.
Can you talk about the projects you are involved in?
I’m currently going into the master’s program where we each have to do a project. My current project that I’m working on is a cyberpunk retelling of the myths of the Greek hero Theseus. I am kind of showcasing that he’s not the hero that everyone thinks he is.
How does that idea stem? Where does it come from?
The idea mainly comes from how we as a society perceive history and tell stories. There are a lot of good ones that we tell, however, not everything seems to be told. There’s a lot hidden underneath the stories that we do tell. I want to kind of showcase the truth on how we talk about the heroes that we exalt, while also putting a new and fun twist on something that we all usually know.
How do you get past writer’s block?
Writer’s block is the absolute worst thing anyone can go through. But how I personally deal with it is by writing down random words on a page. In a sense, if you have something down on a page, you know for a fact you can go back later and fix it … even if whatever you write is total garbage.
Can you talk about the importance of being in a 4+1 program and simply having that type of program available?
For me, as a Writing Arts major, the 4+1 program is really important because of the experience you get. You can go to a bunch of different colleges and study creative writing or technical writing. However, this specific program helps you to get a lot of experience in all the different fields so you can figure out where you’d want to go after you graduate from Rowan. With a master’s degree, you can pretty much step foot in any career you want.
What are the careers available to those with a Writing Arts degree?
With the Writing Arts degree, as stated previously, there are three focuses: creative, technical and professional writing. You can go into a creative writing field where you can work for a literary magazine, you can work as a writer or creative writer, but you can also become a literary agent, freelance editor, or an editor for a publishing company. You could also go a different route and go into any medical field and type up reports. Anywhere that needs a specific type of writing, you can do it, especially social media sites. Creative Writing is not something that is taught as often as you think and we need a lot more writers.
Being able to have the experience and the ability to know how writing works can definitely land you in an educational setting too.
Why do you think it is so difficult to get more writers in an academic and professional sense?
I feel like it’s really difficult because it’s a risk. A lot of people want to go for jobs that seem safer careers that pay more money; however, in a sense, I feel like we’re starting to lose that normality of experiencing creativity and senses of joy in professional careers. I feel like it’s really hard to get writers because we as a society are starting to condemn imagination and creativity in a way.
How do you fix that problem?
Simple. You just have to do it. If you are a creative person and you have an idea, you have to just go for it. No matter who’s telling you what to do or where to go, you have to make hat decision for yourself and do what you’re passionate about. Instilling change is what is going to make these types of professions more of a normality and acceptable.
What is it that you want to get into after you get your master’s?
My number one goal is to be able to tell stories. I want to be a creative writer and I want to be a novelist. However, I also want to potentially go into the field of teaching as well. The educational experience I’ve had at Rowan has honestly changed my life, and I want to be able to do that for others as well.
Can you talk about your experience at Rowan and how it has changed your life?
The most important thing that I have experienced at Rowan was the sense of community. In high school, I was pretty much one of the only writers. As soon as I came into this department, I realized that I wasn’t alone.
I met so many friends and so many amazing people that gave me opportunities to learn, grow, and experiment with what I can do as a writer. That sense of fellowship and community is what makes everything seem more fun.
Was Rowan your first choice? Why did you come here?
Rowan was my first choice because of my family. My mom went when it was Glassboro State. The location is also close to home which is a positive. Before coming to school here I’ve also been on campus many times for summer camps and school events; Rowan felt like a second home.
Did you know your major coming into college?
Absolutely. I knew from the start that I wanted to be a Writing Arts major. Originally, I was thinking about engineering. However, in high school, I realized that writing is just my passion. I quickly realized even though I could make a little bit more money somewhere else, I wanted to to do something that I loved to do.
Where does your inspiration come from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from stuff I’ve gone through in my own life. My inspiration also comes from the people around me. There are so many stories to be told with the people that you know and care about. There are even stories to be told to people you don’t know. By looking around you, you can see the stories hidden behind people’s eyes just waiting to be told; I want to be the one to tell these stories if I can.
What advice would you have to someone who’s maybe considering this major but nervous? What advice would you say to someone who’s concerned if it’s going to be the right career fit?
To those who are really unsure about it, trust me. I’ve been flipping a coin trying to figure out if this is something I want to do. If you’re nervous about going into the program, you just have to trust yourself. Being creative is not easy and because of this, a lot of people shy away from it. However, if you are creative, you have a shot of doing something like this. You just have to trust yourself. If you feel like this is a career that you can be passionate about. Just do it. What’s the risk?
Have you ever thought about getting into motivational speaking?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve been told that one of the main reasons why I wanted to do writing was because people say that I have a way with words. I feel like I want to use that to my advantage. The ability to craft words is a blessing and a curse.
Do you have a favorite writer and favorite genre?
I will say as of right now one of my favorite writers is Stephen King because I love his prose and style. But with this specific genre I’m looking into, I’d have to say that my favorite writer is either Neal Stephenson or Jeffrey Cranor. My favorite genre is definitely magical realism or science fiction.
Can you talk a little bit about the relationship that you have with your professors and the mentorship that they have given you?
Out of every single education system I have been through, I think this is the one where I’ve had the best relationships with every single one of my professors. I have not had a professor that I haven’t liked. The professors here feel like big parts of your support system. They’re the people that are going to guide you to a career and every single professor I’ve had has led me to where I am right now. They all have given me the motivation to keep going.
See our video with Eric here:
Like what you see?
Natalie DePersia, senior public relations major