Summer 2012 Social Networking intern John S. Martinson shares how Superstition Review gave him the impetus to pursue his interest in creative nonfiction writing.
My stint as Summer Blogger for Superstition Review was the impetus I needed to move forward toward finding a graduate degree program. I have always enjoyed writing, but other than English 102, a blogging course taught by Trish, research reports in Sustainability, and weekly posts in Sociology and Rhetorical Studies, I have had no assignments to write. I had thought about applying for a Masters of Arts in the School of Sustainability because I found the subject matter compelling—the kind of science policy I could rap about. I had started a sustainability blog in the blogging class (ecocanyon.org) and fed it a few posts, but, alas, it has wallowed since. Nevertheless, working in a literary environment, albeit an online environment, was stimulating. I was especially drawn to creative nonfiction. For years, I have been an avid of reader The Sun Magazine and The New Yorker.
The other kick in the pants came from a gentleman I met on Facebook (a friend of a friend), Marvin Kupfer, a professional TV writer who lives here in the Valley. We had lunch on September 13 of last year where we discussed my search for a graduate program. I explained my dilemma: although I was interested in sustainability, I did not see myself as a scientist. My real passion lay in writing, especially creative nonfiction. Marvin encouraged me to follow my passion; I could always write about sustainability. This echoed encouragement from my wife in the same direction.
After our lunch, I immediately searched writing programs at ASU. I have a business and
I am a hands-on Dad so a full-time program like an MFA was out of the question, especially with my wife working on a Masters of Gifted Education at the same time. I needed flexibility. So, I decided on a Master of Liberal Studies with a concentration in Creative Nonfiction Writing at ASU Online. I started the program in January, with a course in Memoir Writing from SR Nonfiction Advisor Rebecca Byrkit. I have written six memoir assignments so far. I am home.
When I told people I was majoring in English, the response was usually, “Are you going to teach, or work at Starbucks?” I have neither the patience nor tact for teaching. I’d scream every time a student wrote about a dream or heaven forbid, a vampire. Maybe I just really hate vampires. Maybe I wanted to defy every person who ever said an English degree was only for future baristas of America.
I graduated college three years ago. I worked on the first Superstition Review issue with Trish and she directed my committee for my Barrett Honors College thesis. My premise? I don’t really know anything! That principle hasn’t really changed to this day. It sounds pessimistic at first, but it’s actually become a mantra for personal success.
I’m 25, and smack dab in the middle of an age group known for being brash. So, I feel that I can grow as a person by acknowledging and honing the few things I do know (in comparison to all the things there are to know in the world). Basically, I hope to avoid the pitfall of becoming another foolhardy, unemployed, 20-something of the Millennial generation.
I had five editorial internships in college and still didn’t have a “real world” lead when I graduated. I thought I wanted to go into publishing, but the job well was dry at the time. My internship mentor suggested marketing positions; sometimes their descriptions are similar to editorial work. This was some of the best advice I ever received, and I found several comparable options.
The one that stuck out to me was this engineering firm. I looked at their website and saw a company that designs roads, builds museums, encourages sustainable energy options, keeps water and shorelines clean. I wanted to be a part of this. I walked into the interview and said, “I don’t know anything about engineering. But, I do know words, and I know them well.” I proved it with an editing test, and got the job.
My title is “proposal coordinator.” I write, edit, and produce proposals detailing my company’s qualifications for completing a project. From designing wastewater treatment plants in California to expanding ports in Florida, I create books aiming to persuade clients that we are the right team for the job. I work with a project manager to develop the text and design an interesting, effective document. The engineers provide the technical know-how, and I provide the understanding of English and a creative eye. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship for two people who know their respective topics. The projects range from a few thousand dollars to a few million, and help us intelligently plan for using/replenishing Earth’s resources well into the future.
I still freelance for one of my mentors, writing pieces for local magazines. It’s a nice creative outlet when the technical talk starts to take over and I need a break. I’ve approached the “real world” a lot like I approached college. Humility and embracing the big picture that there is always room to grow has served me unbelievably well, and I’m grateful for every day that I’m gainfully employed at my job. Plus, there aren’t any vampires.
|ASU Polytechnic hosts TED2012 webcast
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
9:30 a.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Student Union, Cooley BallroomsASU’s Polytechnic campus will host a live webcast of TED2012 from 9:30 a.m. – 7:45 p.m., Feb 29. TEDx is hosted by Barrett, The Honors College at Polytechnic campus and will be held in the Cooley Ballrooms.Live speakers at ASU Polytechnic:
Lee Gutkind: (11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” Gutkind is an author and founder of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish nonfiction exclusively. His latest book, “Almost Human: Making Robots Think” was featured on the Daily Show with John Stewart. Gutkind spent six years as a fly-on-the-wall researcher at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh where scientists and students are working to design, build and test robots so advanced that will work alongside humans. “Almost Human” is a portrait of robotic subculture. Gutkind is the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at ASU and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.
Jennifer Gale: (1:45 – 3:15 p.m.) Gale is a local advocate for sustainability and co-founder of “Paper or Plastic? Neither One Please!” Her work addresses the volume of plastic disposables as a vital issue for the planet.
Solutions Exhibition: (5 – 6 p.m.) Sponsored by Changemaker Central and the Programming and Activities Board, the Solutions Exhibition is a forum for students to showcase new ideas and learn how to transform ideas into reality.
Attendees at TEDx may stay for the entire day’s schedule or drop by for a shorter time period throughout the day. Workstations will be set up, and attendees are welcome to work on laptops during the event. Admission is free; food will be served throughout the day.
For more information, visit http://barrettpoly.asu.edu/2012/01/tedxbhcpoly/ or call (480) 727-5399.
A list of speakers for TED event can be found here.
Superstition Review intern, Amber Mosure, comments on her experiences in development and funding.
When I found out I was accepted as an intern for Superstition Review, I was assigned the role of development and funding. My main tasks involve: researching grants, looking into outreach programs, and figuring out innovative ways of generating funding. Already, I’ve gained an exponential amount of knowledge. I feel like the captain of a ship embarking on new landscapes. Applying my own fervor and the past experiences of other English classes has propelled me forward, a little uncertain and uncharted at first, but prepared. I’m sailing along and figuring it out as I go, exploring all the terrain and territories of possible projects and ideas (and I’ve realized I have a penchant for alliteration too).
Recently I helped write a panel proposal for the Southwest Arts Conference. This conference is presented by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and will take place August of this year. SWAC’s theme is “Safety/Sustainability/The Future Is No Accident.” In these times, it is imperative that we create reasonable ways to sustain the arts and literature. Superstition Review does a wonderful job with that, especially, because we are a paperless publication. We encourage and nurture a diverse mix of self-expression and, hopefully, the Arizona Commission on the Arts will agree and invite us to their conference to interactively facilitate a brainstorming session to bounce around ideas for sustainability that will benefit a multitude of art and literature organizations.
Next task: a panel proposal for The Association of Writers and Writing Programs. I will take some of the ideas from the SWAC proposal and apply them to Superstition Review’s application to this event, slated to take place April 2010 in Denver, Colorado. I’m from Denver, so I know that the mile high city is conducive to creativity. I am certain the ideas will be flowing full-force.