LRRewind: Episode 2

LRRewind, Episode 2: An Interview with Ally Carbutti, Mosaic Essayist and Creative Nonfiction Extraordinaire

Rylee Thomas: Hello! Welcome to the Long River Rewind. This is episode two, and today, I’m interviewing Ally Carbutti, the newest member of the Long River team. Say hi, Ally!

Ally Carbutti: Hi, everyone!

Rylee: So, this is going to be fun. This is only the second episode of this podcast. And today, I’m just getting to know Ally and talking a little bit about her role on the team, what things are going to look like in the spring when we start with the magazine, and how everything’s going to go. So yeah, it’ll be a fun little chat. So, start off by telling me a little about yourself. Introduce yourself, your name, your major, your year, anything like that. The basics. Then, we’ll go into your interests. Things like that.

Ally: Okay, so I’m Ally. I’m a junior. I’m an English major on a creative writing track. I think eventually, I want to go into publishing and do some writing as well. Not entirely sure which route we’re gonna entirely go down. Might be both.

Rylee: That is very cool. So, speaking of your interests, are there any organizations at UConn or outside of UConn that you’re a part of, dealing with publishing and writing, or otherwise? Like, what are you involved in?

Ally: Yeah, so I’m in the Literary Minds club, although I have not been able to attend for quite some time, as I have a night class right when it runs. But that’s pretty cool. We just get together and write prompts and do a lot of activities. I wish I could make more of them. I’ve also been interning for an academic journal called Disability Studies Quarterly for the past two semesters. And we also created a blog called the Disability Community Studies Blog. It was originally going to be called something else, but now it’s its own separate entity. So, I was also interning for that over the summer. So both of those deal with publishing, and the blog is more creative work. And the journal is more like academic and scientific research.

Rylee: That is really, really cool. Are you doing the internship thing with Professor Fairbanks?

Ally: So, I did the first semester, but this semester, I’m doing an independent study, because I’m working on the blog and the journal separately. And they are both run by the same professor.

Rylee: Which professor is that?

Ally: Professor Brenda Brueggemann.

Rylee: Oh, that’s so cool. Did we have our meeting together? The one that I showed up a little late to, where we talked about our internships? Or was that someone else? I feel like I remember you talking about this before?

Ally: I think someone else.

Rylee: Okay, yeah. Maybe it was someone else. It sounds familiar to me. But anyway, it’s such a cool project. Literary Minds is also so fun. I am not part of Literary Minds. But I accidentally walked into one of their meetings like two weeks ago, when I was coming to set up for the Long River Reading series, which you guys should totally come to. That’s happening, I think, next week. Our Managing Editor Camryn Johnson is going to be reading, so everyone should totally come. But anyway, I showed up to the Long River Reading series like half an hour early, and I stumbled on the Literary Minds meeting. And it seems cool. I remember they were talking about childhood favorite books and nostalgia. I enjoyed that. So, I accidentally attended a Literary Minds meeting once, and it was super awesome. And Camryn Johnson, for those of you who don’t know, our Managing Editor, is the president of that. So, fun little overlaps in the literary organizations on campus. Yeah. So, my next thing I want to ask is (and this is just for fun), but do you have a favorite Starbucks or Dunkin drink, or anything like that?

Ally: I do not. I’m pretty boring. 

Rylee: Tragic. No, I’m just kidding. 

Ally: I don’t drink coffee. But a lot of the time I’ll stop and get a chai or something. 

Rylee: No, that’s that’s exactly what I like. I had a chai this morning. They just came out with the cookie butter coldfoam. So I got it instead of the pumpkin, and it was so good.

Ally: That sounds really good. I love getting coldfoam, but then it hurts my stomach.

Rylee: It’s so good though. I love it. I’m obsessed. I like to get it on my Chai. I love it.

Ally: It’s like a guilty pleasure.

Rylee: It really is. So good. Anyway, so now as we’re getting into some more about your life, I saw in your little social media bio that you’d like to do DIY projects. Tell me about that.

Ally: I do! So, I pretty much like any sort of creative outlet. Like, I like to paint my clothes. 

Rylee: You paint your clothes?!

Ally: Yeah! A lot of times people don’t believe me, because they think it’s a stencil or something.

Rylee: Oh my gosh, you don’t even use stencils or anything? What do you paint?

Ally: I like to paint a lot of butterflies, like, paint them like up my pant legs or on my jacket cover.

Rylee: That is the coolest thing ever. My friend from home has these thrifted jeans that have flowers painted on them. She didn’t paint them herself, but they’re the coolest.

Ally: Yeah. For Christmas, I asked my parents for like special fabric paint. Because I never know what to ask for, so I always just find something random.

Rylee: That is really cool. So, I also saw in your bio that you hike and you bake. Tell me about that.

Ally: I do! So, again with the creative outlet, I love to bake anything. I love to surprise my friends on their birthdays, or if they have an accomplishment, I’ll bake a cake. And I’ll try to do some detective work and figure out what their favorite flavor is. Yeah. For Thanksgiving, I like to make different pies. And then I’ll try to cut out little leaves from the crust.

Rylee: With a cookie cutter?

Ally: No, just freehand.

Rylee: She’s an artist, everyone. That’s amazing. 

Ally: I try! 

Rylee: Do you draw or anything, or paint, like, not on clothes?

Ally: I do. It’s not the best work. But it’s just something I enjoy. 

Rylee: It sounds like you’re very artistically inclined.

Ally: I tend to be.

Rylee: Well, that is extremely cool. How about the hiking? Tell me about the hiking. 

Ally: So, I just like to hike a lot. I’m not like a professional. 

Rylee: Me neither, but I also love it. 

Ally: I don’t have hiking gear. But I like to go to national parks and stuff.

Rylee: That is awesome. That is very, very cool. So now we will jump into some of the more writing-based questions, because I know we’re all dying to know what Ally writes about, what kind of thing she writes, and what kind of projects she’s working on. So, tell us!

Ally: I like to write a bunch of different things. I’m more of a creative nonfiction person. Hence I am on the creative nonfiction panel. 

Rylee: Yes!

Ally: Yeah. I have been trying to experiment more with fiction. But I think like, my brain just gets confused. Because I feel like when I write fiction, I have to make it fake. 

Rylee: I know what you mean. 

Ally: Yeah! And I go too far down that road, where I just feel like I’m lying if I tell the truth. And it’s like a personal thing. Like, I can’t do it. Because I like to hold myself to it. I’m like, you’re lying. You’re lying to the audience!

Rylee: I know exactly what you mean! It feels a lot more real. When you’re writing about yourself and your own life, like the emotions and everything. 

Ally: Even if I’m not writing directly about me, I feel like I still categorize it as nonfiction. But honestly, I’ve had so many conversations with professors. And I know that a lot of authors do this, where they’ll just write the truth and change all the names. And I just, I can’t. I feel like I can’t bring myself to do that. I don’t know, I don’t want to like write something and then publish it and have a friend be like, that’s me, that’s about me, or something like that. Anytime I include anyone in my stories, I always ask them if it’s okay, if I’m like trying to submit it somewhere.

Rylee: That’s great. It’s just like a lot of great integrity and everything with creative nonfiction. It’s like hard to find that boundary. You know, I actually submitted something for a contest just the other day for creative nonfiction. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is about all of my high school friends. They’re going to see themselves so easily in this. But it felt so real and easy to write about, like you were saying, because it really happened to me, and all those emotions that I was feeling were real. So, it just came naturally. Yeah.

Ally: I’m also very torn, because I kind of feel like there is no creative nonfiction or fiction. Like I know, technically there are, but they merge so much into each other, that it just kind of feels like it’s a made-up label, which it kind of is. But also, when you write nonfiction, you also can never correctly remember everything. Like, you’re never 100% telling the truth. Because even if what you’re saying is the truth to you, it might not be the truth to someone else.

Rylee: That is so true. I never thought about it like that. Like, the way I perceived the event that I wrote about could have been interpreted completely differently in someone else’s eyes, and even the truth of what happened is so up to interpretation. It’s like you’re creating your own little fantasy world about your life. It’s crazy.

Ally: Especially if a story involves other people, the way that I perceive the world is probably a lot different than someone else involved in that event. So, even when you’re having a conversation with someone, you could be having an in-depth conversation, and both just not understand exactly what you’re thinking about. You can use the same words and be thinking completely different things.

Rylee: I know exactly what you mean. I’ve thought about this so much, just because I’ve recently been writing a lot of creative nonfiction. I’ve also been shying away from fiction. Like, I’m working on a novel, and I like poetry, but when it comes to short things that I just write, creative nonfiction is the way I go. I’m also on the creative nonfiction panel. So, we’ll be working together in the spring.

Ally: Are you excited? 

Rylee: Yes! It’ll be cool. So, when did you start writing?

Ally: That is a very hard question. I think I’ve been writing since I was pretty young. I don’t know exactly what age. I think it was in fifth grade that I decided I wanted to actually be a writer, because I remember our professor, her name was Miss Mather. She made us all write a book. And it was actually creative nonfiction. I just didn’t understand the label at that age. But it was about something that happened to us or our family. I don’t remember the website, but they sent us all these empty books. And they printed our writing inside, and then we like colored above it and illustrated it. Yeah.

Rylee: That’s extremely cool. So, you’ve been into writing from a young age and your teacher was an inspiration. I love it. When did you figure out what creative nonfiction was? I’m curious, because I didn’t know until like late high school.

Ally: Yeah, I think probably the same. Because the first creative writing-focused class I took was in my senior year of high school. And that’s kind of where I learned the basics. And I just kind of went from there. I feel like there’s not a good system, from high school to college, where a lot of creative writing classes or opportunities are offered. Like even at UConn, there’s no creative writing major.

Rylee: Do you wish there was? 

Ally: I do. But also, I didn’t realize that you could make your own major to be creative writing until it was too late. So I probably would have done that.

Rylee: Like, the individualized major? 

Ally: Yeah. I feel like they don’t they don’t advertise that enough. Because I expressed an interest. And I feel like nobody told me, and I’d taken so many prereqs it didn’t make sense for me to make my own major afterward.

Rylee: Yeah, English is cool. I like reading the books, too. I like reading them and analyzing them. But creative writing is my favorite. If I’d had the option, I don’t know what I would have done. That’s so interesting.

Ally: I don’t know. I feel like I’d say I would do creative writing now. But I also do appreciate the English aspect of it, too, because it shapes you into being a critical thinker and a critical analyst. And those are all very important skills. I also think to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader.

Rylee: You really do, yeah. A lot of my English classes have taught me that for sure. I enjoyed so many of them. What are your favorite English and creative writing classes at UConn, either or both? Whatever your preference is.

Ally: I don’t know. I love them all for different reasons. I think the first creative writing class, where I really started, not to take myself seriously, but like make other people take me seriously, was probably Creative Writing I. And I took it with Bruce Cohen.

Rylee: Oh! I’ve never taken a class with Professor Cohen.

Ally: He’s awesome. 

Rylee: Oh, that’s great. 

Ally: He’s so great. But he’s not he’s not for the faint of heart.

Rylee: I’ve heard that, too!

Ally: But in a good way. Like, I very much appreciated that experience. He really pushes his students to be the best.

Rylee: I wanted to take his poetry class in the spring so badly. There was just no room. Like, if I’d added one more thing, I would have been a little overloaded. But before I graduate, I have to take a class from him. I’ve heard such great things.

Ally: I also wanted to take the poetry class, but it conflicted.

Rylee: Oh, the struggle. That’s okay, though. Someday, maybe in our senior year together we’ll take the poetry class. It’ll be great. So, how did you find your niche writing interests? And who and what are your biggest inspirations in writing?

Ally: Hm. That is a hard one.

Rylee: It is a lot. I gave you a lot just now. 

Ally: It’s hard to think about. I mean, obviously, my family and my friends inspire a lot of what I write. Even if I’m not writing about them, things they say to me will jog my mind. Or, I feel like I’m always chaotically thinking about a lot of things at once.

Rylee: Explain! Now I’m curious. 

Ally: I don’t know. I just feel like my brain is just very chaotic. Like I’ll be talking about something and then it’ll spark me to think of something else. And then I have to write it down. Like, I have all these weird, quirky lists and half-phrases. 

Rylee: Oh my gosh, do tell.

Ally: I’m just a list person. I’ll text my boyfriend or my best friend or my mom random lists with random words. Like, half-phrases, quotes from books with page numbers. Like, random thought rants. 

Rylee: I love that. 

Ally: Like, it makes me sound crazy. 

Rylee: No, that’s just being a writer. 

Ally: It is! But if anybody looked in my head, they’d be like, you are insane!

Rylee: I know exactly what you mean. I submitted poems and creative nonfiction pieces to people last week, like I was saying. And I’m like, oh my gosh, are they going to think this is great? Or are they going to think I’m not well? 

Ally: Like, there’s my notes app on my phone. It’s all chaotic, chaotically written. I think I’m definitely a mosaic essayist. 

Rylee: I love that way of putting it. 

Ally: I didn’t realize that was an actual thing until this week. Because I was talking to a professor, and she was looking at my outline, because I’m trying to write a novel. And I started writing part of it, but I just was getting stuck before, because I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to write it. But now I think I’m pretty set. But I had this whole collage of words and phrases. Like, images. And she was looking at it. She was! She’s like, you’re crazy. 

Rylee: No!

Ally: She didn’t say that to me, though. She’s like, you’re a mosaic essay! I was like, wow. That is a fancy way of putting it.

Rylee: That is the funniest thing I have ever heard. 

Ally: It made me feel better about it. 

Rylee: It gives a term to the chaos that goes on in our minds. That’s fantastic. So, you’re writing a novel? Tell me about that. Is it creative nonfiction? Is it like, memoir-y, or is it like fiction?

Ally: It’s going to kind of be a collage of things.

Rylee: I get that from the mosaic essayist aspect. 

Ally: But I don’t know. Well, this is kind of personal. But I have a rare autoimmune disorder. And I’m in remission now. But I want to write about it. I just don’t want it to take up the novel. Like, I want to write a bunch of different essays and tie them together, and then have threads in between. 

Rylee: Yeah.

Ally: But not exactly a memoir. Like, it’s going to be a cross between a memoir and a creative nonfiction or a fiction essay. Just because the way that memoirs are typically written is very much the author talking to the audience. And I also want to include scenes and dialogue in it. So, like flipping back and forth.

Rylee: That is extremely cool. I know what you mean. Memoirs feel very linear, like the author’s talking to you. That’ll be cool, like creative nonfiction and fiction, blurring the lines. That’ll be so interesting. Oh, my gosh, I’m dying to read this. At some point, you’ll have to show me pieces of it, if you ever feel like sharing. So, are you working with a professor on it right now?

Ally: I am not.

Rylee: Do you hope to?

Ally: I do. I’ve been talking to a lot of different professors during the last week and a half about it. That’s why it’s been on my mind so much. Because I just figured out how I was going to write it. Because before, I was going back and forth. I think eventually, I do want to do an independent study, probably. I’m just not sure who to do it with, because I could see myself doing it with a lot of different people. And I think that’s why I went to talk to multiple people, because I value all their input.

Rylee: I know what you mean.

Ally: Because it is such a collage. It doesn’t fit into one area. I feel like each professor is specialized in one area of what the book is supposed to be. I don’t know if that totally answered your question?

Rylee: No, that totally answers my question. That is really cool. Yeah, definitely ask around, shop it around, see who’s going to be good for it. How far along are you?

Ally: Not very far.

Rylee: Describe.

Ally: Okay, I don’t know. I have lots of random tidbits written. 

Rylee: Okay!

Ally: I just wasn’t sure which way I was going to write it. So, now I need to go back and create the form of it. Before, it was a lot of just chaos. 

Rylee: Again, the chaos! The chaos creates such beautiful things, though. 

Ally: It does. But it’s a lot of pressure, especially because it’s something that had such a big impact on my life. 

Rylee: Yes, totally. 

Ally: I don’t necessarily want to put myself in it forever, if that makes sense. 

Rylee: I get it, yeah.

Ally: It’s scary putting myself in this context. And if I write it the wrong way, it could be perceived the wrong way.

Rylee: You have to be so careful with creative nonfiction. It’s something I’ve realized through trying to develop my skills in it a bit more. Like, this essay that I just submitted. It was extremely personal. It was about people I know and love. So, if it were to be taken the wrong way… like, I’m trying to see these people wholly, their flaws and their good qualities, and encapsulate all of it and represent them as human beings. But, you know, I don’t want anyone to view them the wrong way, because they’re so personal and special to me. So like, I get what you’re saying.

Ally: Because life is so messy, and crazy, and things happen. And you’re not always on the same page as the people you love. People hurt each other, people make mistakes. And if you’re only writing one scene where that person isn’t shown in the best light, it’s like you’re sticking them in there forever like that. And that’s a little bit scary, because as a friend, or as a daughter, a sister, you want to make sure you protect those people. But at the same time, you also are trying to communicate a story. But it’s not just the story, especially if it’s creative nonfiction. Because it is a life.

Rylee: That’s something I’ve struggled with a lot. Just striking that balance, you know. There is something I’ve written that’s creative nonfiction… and it’s good, so I feel good about it. So I want to submit it to places, and I want to shop it around and improve it and edit it. And then, if it would ever be accepted anywhere, if anything would happen with it beyond just me working on it, I would want it to be anonymous. I’d want to change the names, and even then, I would want to be careful and make sure the writing I’m doing is doing justice to these people, and showing other sides of them beyond the things that I’m saying about them that are not the most flattering in that one specific instance.

Ally: I definitely understand. Because even if you change the names, I feel like I wouldn’t even want to promote it.

Rylee: I changed a name from Ashley to Ashlyn, and I’m like, this isn’t good enough. She’s going to see herself in this. 

Ally: I forget where it was. But I read a quote about being a writer’s friend or having a writer in your life, and how you have to be careful because you might end up in their work.

Rylee: Yes! Especially with creative nonfiction.

Ally: Especially. Oh, goodness.

Rylee: But we love it and value it anyway. These stories have to be told. So, it’s a difficult balance, but it’s something we grapple with. On a lighter note, what are your favorite books and poems, or essays? Anything that inspires you?

Ally: This is a controversial opinion.

Rylee: Oh, go for it.

Ally: I do not have a favorite book. 

Rylee: Neither do I. 

Ally: Really? 

Rylee: Yeah.

Ally: Because I feel like everybody does, especially English majors. They’re always raving about one author. But I like to read everything. I like to write everything. If somebody recommends a book to me, I will automatically try to find it secondhand. I’m always taking other people’s opinions into consideration. Especially people I value, like professors.

Rylee: Absolutely. If you had to pick a book that you like right now, is there something that’s currently intriguing you? 

Ally: The best book that I read lately was called The Death of Vivek Oji.

Rylee: Oh, my gosh, you’re kidding! 

Ally: Did you read it? 

Rylee: No, but I’m taking Anglophone Literature right now, and that’s the next book on our curriculum. I have to read it for next week. I’m reading it this weekend. 

Ally: Who are you taking it with? 

Rylee: Professor Coundouriotis. 

Ally: I took it with her, too. 

Rylee: I love her!

Ally: It’s so good. So good. 

Rylee: Oh my gosh. Well, that’s great. That’s so timely, because I’m about to pick it up. Like, when I go back to my dorm.

Ally: Yeah, it’s amazing. Very good book.

Rylee: That is really cool. Now I’m super excited. And I know what you mean, because it’s hard to pick a favorite, just because each book is so important at different stages and times in your life. When you read something, it leaves an impression on you, and new impressions form. I feel like the answer I usually give is Anna Karenina, because I love Anna Karenina, and it’s so good. I feel like whenever I’m sad and I want to indulge the sadness, I read that one. But also I’m very much a mood reader, you know? I also love a good romance novel, or a mystery, or anything like that. Genre fiction is super cool. It is hard to choose. So, as we are approaching some of the more Long River-related questions, why are you excited to join the Long River Review? 

Ally: So many reasons. I’m mainly excited because it’s such a creative outlet. And there are so many different kinds of people and different submissions that come together to form it. I’m just very excited to be a part of the team that gets to put it together.

Rylee: That is very cool. I’m also excited to be a part of the team that puts it together. It’s such a fun, collaborative effort. Everyone bonds so much. It’s a great group. I’m super excited. It’ll be really fun. I’m glad it’s in the mornings this year, too. Last year, we had it around three in the afternoon. We’d always have to run over to the Design Center, and the Design Center was closing, and we’d have to run back. No, wait, it wasn’t the Design Center, it was Document Production Services that we’d run to. Have you ever been there? 

Ally: I have not. 

Rylee: It’s near Busby. It’s like on that hill. So, it’s out of the way. But if we’re in the morning, we’ll have the rest of the day to get things done. So, that’ll be good. That’s my little rant. But on to other topics. You’re a creative nonfiction panelist. Tell me how you think you’ll approach that editorial role, or if you have any questions about it. I did it last year, and I’m coming back again. So, we’re working together, which is fun.

Ally: Well, I think I’m going to approach it with the leadership of the nonfiction editor, of course. Basically just assisting with what they need me to do.

Rylee: Sophie is so awesome. She is going to be great. She did it with me last year, too. And she has such a great perspective on how to sort everything, how to rank things with the proper judgment, but also balancing that judgment and emotion when you’re dealing with these pieces. Yeah, she’s really awesome. She’s gonna do a great job leading it, and you’re gonna do a great job being on the panel. It’s going to be an amazing team. I’m super psyched. It’ll be really fun. We get so we don’t get that many submissions compared to the other panels, like I was telling you in the interview, but we get a good amount, and it felt like a lot to me last year. It surprises me that the poetry panel gets hundreds.

Ally: Oh, yeah. I think a lot of people write poetry.

Rylee: It’s easy. It’s quick. No, it’s not easy! 

Ally: It’s not easy. 

Rylee: It’s not easy! That came out so wrong. 

Ally: I have such a hard time writing poetry. 

Rylee: No, me too. It is super challenging.

Ally: It is. I feel like I have so much to say, it’s hard for me to economically try to put it into some sort of rhythm. It feels like when I try to write it it’s just very choppy, because I want to write prose.

Rylee: Yeah. It’s different for me, I feel like, because poetry comes more naturally to me, I think, than prose. I actually started as a prose writer. I didn’t do poetry very much until my sophomore year of high school, which was like, last year. No, I mean college! College, my sophomore year of college. Last year. I was not a sophomore in high school last year, everyone! But, I really got into it last year. And it was easier to distill my thoughts into it. Rhythmically, it helped me break them up. I like writing poetry. When I say easier, I mean it can be short and quicker. But when I’m writing prose, like creative nonfiction, like we were saying, I feel like I have to structure things and mess with temporality. And it’s just a bigger body of work to handle. So, I think it depends on what you’re writing about, what your mood is, and what the vibe is, but I think I can understand why poetry gets hundreds. But yeah, copyediting. You’re also a copyediting lead. Tell me about your thoughts and feelings related to that.

Ally: This is also controversial. I love copy editing. I really think it’s fun. A lot of people hate it, but I don’t know. The way my brain works is super perfectionist. I’m always reading things, looking for grammar mistakes, format mistakes. It’s just very natural. It’s something I just enjoy.

Rylee: No, I love it too. It’s therapeutic, like a human Grammarly. I love it. That is so great. Copywriting can be really fun. It just gives you an excuse to read people’s work, and then you notice things like typos. You see there’s a typo, and you want to fix it. 

Ally: I’m very excited. 

Rylee: It’ll be fun! I remember last year, I was not on the copyediting team, but I helped out with it, because everyone on the team ends up helping out with it, because there’s so much. I remember going through it, and some people would want to change whole sentences, and I’m like, stop it. Me included. I’m guilty of it, too. Just because we want to have creative control and we’re all creatively minded, we want to jump in and put our own two cents in, but I guess the one thing that’s important for everyone on the team to remember is not to change the author’s original voice. As Ally knows! The copyediting expert. 

Ally: Yeah, I think it’s very important to maintain how the author originally wanted the piece to be. 

Rylee: That’s one of the most important things to me. I would never want to change someone’s original voice, especially someone who’s good enough to make it into a literary magazine and win contests and such things. Fun times. So, my last question for you—and we kind of touched upon it at the beginning—but what are your career aspirations, and where do you see yourself in five years? Or ten years? Whenever you’d like to pinpoint yourself in time. 

Ally: See, it’s very scary to think about. 

Rylee: It is so scary!

Ally: There’s just not a very set path for anyone wanting to go into the creative field. 

Rylee: I’ve thought about this so much. 

Ally: Yeah, I think about it all the time. I’ve talked to so many people about it. Everyone has different answers. You have to put yourself out there in the kinds of situations you want to be in and make connections, and then hopefully something works out for you. So, hopefully things work out for me! I’ll be in some sort of publishing position, or writing position, or both. Ideally, I’d like to make it as a writer, but I know that’s not entirely feasible? I don’t want to buzzkill my dreams, but…. 

Rylee: I know exactly what you mean. 

Ally: You know what I mean. Just kind of letting the universe take me where it wants to take me. 

Rylee: Those are the exact words I use for people when they ask me. They’re like, oh, do you want to teach, or do you want to work in an office? And I’m like, respect, so much respect, but no. I just want to write books and read them. 

Ally: Basically. I get that response all the time when I say I’m an English major. They’re like, oh, you want to be a teacher? 

Rylee: And I love teachers so much, but not particularly. 

Ally: And then as soon as you say you want to be a writer or you want to go into publishing, they just stare at you. 

Rylee: They’re like, oh, that’s nice!

Ally: That’s nice, good luck!

Rylee: I really hope it works out for us both, because I don’t think I’ll be happy if anything else happens. 

Ally: I went to get my booster shot, and the lady giving it to me was ragging on me! Because I told her I was an English major, and she was like my son wanted to do that, but he didn’t want to be a teacher, he wanted to be a writer, and I told him there were no jobs. And all of this stuff. And I was just sitting there, feeling so sorry for her son!

Rylee: Oh my gosh, her poor son! Crushing his dreams like that. Really! And you know, honestly, I get this from people who are not English majors and don’t know about it. So, honestly, I don’t know if this is the right thing to do or not, but I’d take their opinions with a grain. Like, I figure skate, and one of my skating coaches, when I was in high school, I told her I was going to be an English major. And she said, what are you going to do with that? And I’m like, well, you wouldn’t know, would you? 

Ally: I know, I feel like sometimes you just have to take a leap, and the risk is hopefully going to pay off. But even if it doesn’t, as a backup, you can do so many things with an English degree. You can do so many office jobs, and so many technical writing jobs. 

Rylee: Exactly!

Ally: So much. 

Rylee: There are things we can do to pay the bills, and more than just pay the bills. Before we launch our fabulous careers. But hopefully we can just launch our fabulous careers very, very soon, because I’d like to just do that. 

Ally: Hopefully!

Rylee: Anyway, this has been so nice. Like, this went so well. For anyone listening, this is only the second episode that I’ve ever recorded, and my first one was just me talking to myself for less than 15 minutes. And look at us go, we’re at 35 minutes! This was fantastic. Thank you, Ally!

Ally: Thanks for having me!

Rylee: This was really fun. So, this has been Ally Carbutti, a member of the creative nonfiction panel, and a copyediting lead for Long River 2023. Signing off for now! Thank you all for listening, and have a great day. 

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