Academic Nerds Gonna Academic Nerd

It’s probably fitting that I just got finished recording a future podcast episode with the teacher who taught my eighth-grade English class. Because I am about to do the most academic nerd thing ever and embark on yet another academic journey.

Right now, I hear my spouse muttering: They’re not Pokemon, you don’t have to catch them all, by which he means, I am currently ahead in the household degree count by one.

Academic nerds gonna marry other academic nerds.

And, yes, I guess it would look kind of excessive to other people to return to school so quickly. However, I have my reasons. And, since I’d rather do anything except what I need to do (clean/organize my office), I’ll share them with you!

First, I hate leaving money on the table. When I finished up my MFA, which was funded primarily by my pre-9/11 Montgomery GI Bill, I got a final verification from the VA that I had a certain amount of months remaining. I looked and thought, oh cool, there’s enough there for another graduate degree at some point. Then, I looked closer and realized, oh shoot, the expiration date on that “some point” is nearer than I expected, looming over me like the T rex. in Jurassic Park. (Yes, the first one, which is still, IMHO, the best one.) That spurred me to evaluate where I was, my career goals, and what would be the best use of the rest of that money.

After realizing that I could theoretically complete one more degree, and also that I needed to do it by the end of next year, I sat down and thought long and hard about what I want to be when I grow up.

Mostly, I thought about what I’m currently doing–writing, editing, podcasting, publishing, creating engagement in online spaces that encourage my network and community. Actually, these are all things that I’ve always wanted to do, and that I could see myself doing for a long time.

So, What Is It That I’m NOT Doing?

Or, that I’m doing wrong? Or, that I could be doing better?

I don’t have the answers to these questions…yet. Or rather, I have too many answers to that last question. When it comes to my place on the Dunning-Kruger schematic, I feel that, craft-wise, I am progressing my way up the “Slope of Enlightenment.” I’m putting the work in, both practically and academically and professionally to get better at writing, at editing, at publishing, and now, in podcasting, to create books and anthologies and podcasts that will be good quality. I also, because I’ve spent that time learning and seeking more knowledge and practicing and reading to see what excellence and best practices look like, have a better scale against which to judge my work and see how much farther I have to go. There are always going to be blind spots, which is why I periodically stop and take stock of where I am and what I’m doing, but I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities as a writer, as an editor, and as a publisher. And while I’m still early on the Slope of Enlightenment as a podcaster, I am more confident that I know what I don’t know, and know where to go to fill those gaps and get better.

What I don’t know, and where I realize I need to be getting better because I’m not doing the things I need to be doing in this area, concerns that business side of things. As much as I would love to say I never fall prey to Dunning-Kruger, I have to admit to myself that I have been over-estimating my abilities when it comes to marketing, sales, advertising, ROI, accounting–basically, the business side of the business.

I sort of know a little bit about social media marketing. I know what the acronym “ROI” sounds like. I know that I probably should be doing some kind of analysis on what ads are performing or what social media content is getting the most engagement. There are some things I could probably do to boost sales. But get any more granular than that, and I am forced to admit that I need more knowledge, skills, and experience. And I a) don’t have the budget to pay someone to do this and b) would not ask someone to give me this for free.

So, I’m going to learn it. Myself.

Here’s a little secret about me that people probably don’t know. The first graduate program I ever considered was an MBA in Media Marketing. I had just graduated from NYU film school, and I was working at a media ventures company. I saw then that I wasn’t going to be making any money just being on the creative side of things, so the plan was to get an MBA and learn about the business side of things.

Then 9/11 happened, I joined the Army Reserve, and my life went in the direction that it did.

Less a Turntable Than A Closing Circle

Thus, here I am, three years into a creative venture, with a stack full of books on marketing and starting a small business and accounting for creatives and wanting more. On Wednesday, I begin my new (and maybe final, we’ll see) program of learning that will support me doing the work that I feel a passion for–creating and publishing and being part of a community of creatives. I signed up to take Continuing Education credits in accounting at the local community college, and will begin February 15 with Fundamentals of Accounting I.

On the graduate level, I am following my MFA from SNHU with further studies in the MBA program–a business degree with a concentration in marketing. With the granularity of the accounting classes and the big picture practical of the MBA program, my goal is to fill in the spaces in my knowledge and expertise that I haven’t yet recognized as gaps AND to start closing the gaps that I know are there.

Here is to learning and improving and understanding better how to go from where I am now, to where I want to be in two, five, ten years.

And now, because I also have to finish the books that I owe my publisher, I’m going to get back to the creative stuff.


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One Response to Academic Nerds Gonna Academic Nerd

  1. Bob McGough says:

    I’m jealous! I love school, and if the world would wise up and just give me money to go to school, I’d probably be following in your footsteps!

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