Literary Arts Careers
Literary Arts Careers (1:28)
“It’s not a business and it’s not a career. It’s my life. I do it 24 hours every day. I never stop thinking about my books. I never stop thinking about my characters. I love talking and writing with other writers, with anybody who will listen. That’s what gives me a lot of joy, is I don’t consider it a job.”
Role models in order of appearance: Julie Dash, Kim Williams, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, CJ Omololu, Jessica Care Moore, and Regina Taylor.
1) “Art imitates life and life imitates art.” What do you think is meant by this quote? Give an example of how the literary arts imitate life.
2) One literary artist in the video said that when writing a story, it’s important to create characters that are “complex and authentic.” Why might it be important to create characters that are complex? The word “authentic” means to be real or believable. Why is it helpful for the characters we create and write about to be authentic?
3) Another one of the literary artists in the video said that she finds it most rewarding to use her imagination in “coming up with something that didn’t exist before” and then sharing it with a larger group of people. Tell about a time you came up with something that didn’t exist before. How can you strengthen your imagination so that you can continue to create new things to share?
4) Each literary artist named some reasons she found her work to be personally rewarding. What does it mean when someone says their work is “personally rewarding?” What were some reasons the literary artists gave that their work was meaningful and
rewarding to them?
5) In the video, one of the literary artists said that poetry is a very personal form of written expression. What do you think she meant by this? Tell about a time you wrote, listened to, or read a poem. Explain the deep positive or negative feelings the poem stirred in you.
6) The same literary artist said she enjoys writing poetry because she believes “poems can save lives.” What do you think this artist meant when she said that? Do you think it might be possible for a poem to save a life?
7) The last artist in the video says that a career in the literary arts allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and see life through another’s eyes. What did the artist mean when she said this? How can being able to see things through the eyes of another help you expand who you are?
There’s an old saying: “Is life imitating art, or is art imitating life?” And that all comes from the whole dynamics of storytelling.
A good story consists of complex, authentic characters, because as people, we’re complex. If you start with complex characters and authentic characters, they really drive your story.
The most rewarding part is coming up with something that didn’t exist before I imagined it, and being allowed to share it with a larger group of people.
It’s not a business and it’s not a career. It’s my life. I do it 24 hours every day. I never stop thinking about my books. I never stop thinking about my characters. I love talking and writing with other writers, with anybody who will listen. That’s what gives me a lot of joy, is I don’t consider it a job.
When I’m writing for theater, I’m definitely thinking about my audience more. When I’m writing my poems, they’re so personal. The poetry for me is such a personal space. And I believe that poems can save lives. And outside of performing, I teach. And so I build curriculum in juvenile detention centers.
You’re able to step into someone else’s shoes. You’re able to take that journey. You’re able to see through their eyes. And with that, you expand, I think, who you are coming back from that journey.
Independent Learning Guide: This all-purpose guide can be used by educators, parents, and mentors to jumpstart a lively discussion about careers in the literary arts.
Do you like to create worlds with your imagination? A novelist, poet, filmmaker, producer, and playwright share why they are passionate about their careers in creative writing.
Classroom Lesson Plan: This step-by-step lesson plan is available to guide a more in-depth “before, during, and after” learning experience when viewing the video with students. This lesson plan is also suitable for use in after-school programs and other educational settings.
Use Empowerment Activities as a fun way to reinforce the video topic and build community with your students.
Related Empowerment Activities:
Fun Page Activity: Try being a literary artist. Use this poem “starter” to write a poem about the real you — what you dream about, wish for, and can’t wait to do!