English was my absolute favourite subject until late last year, when all we talked about was careers and prepping for the real world and selecting subjects that would help us. Like a lot of people, I loved English: the deeper implications, how Shakespeare’s work from the 1500s is still relevant today, understanding how authors position us to think and feel a certain way. But I couldn’t help thinking, what careers can I actually get out of this?
On a whim last year, I applied to a year long play writing program hosted by Melbourne Arts Centre. My application was minutes away from being late. I had never even thought about writing a play before. They only accepted eight people in the whole of Melbourne. I wasn’t gonna get in, but worth a shot, right?
Well, spoiler alert, I was shocked to get an email from the Arts Centre letting me know that my application had been successful. Since then, we’ve spent one night every fortnight, on Zoom call learning from a professional playwright – someone who managed to make a career out of English. I genuinely didn’t realise how many different English pathways there are. In one session playwright and creative Emilie Collyer talked us through her pathway, which has included studying her Masters of Writing at VCAA, writing plays performed in New York City, being commissioned by theatre companies to write for them and winning countless poetry and short fiction awards. She is currently completing a PhD in creative writing with a focus on contemporary feminist poetry at RMIT – something I didn’t even know was a thing!
Hearing about Emilie, and many other creatives’ experiences and careers has opened up this whole world for me. I think if you’re someone who enjoys English but is starting to question how applicable it is to your future, finding and just giving opportunities like this a go can really help you find your feet. There is so much more to English than just analysing texts and, through this program, it’s so exciting to be the one creating texts!