Thursday, February 21, 2013

Traveler Alena Hadley '04 on writing about her passion and finding her voice

Alena Hadley
Psychology and English major, Class of 2004
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

As a social science researcher, I use writing to produce data reports and issue briefs. Though I did a fair amount of creative writing when I was younger, I more recently pigeonholed myself as a technical writer and consequently became insecure about my abilities to express myself more artistically. So, when a friend of mine forwarded me a job announcement for freelance travel writers, I was hesitant to apply. My intense desire to be involved in the travel industry eventually compelled me to get over my anxieties. I typed up some writing samples, applied for the job, and was swiftly rejected.

I felt discouraged, but only briefly. Before I completed the application I had shown my writing samples to a small group of friends, including one who is an established travel writer. They all enjoyed my pieces and assured me that their praise was impartial and not rooted in their love for the author. My rejection letter had conveyed a generic message: “We typically reject pieces based on issues such as the quality of the writing or lack of subject matter knowledge.” I became incensed instead of discouraged. My writing is great, and I’m a travel expert. Even the travel writer said so. What did these people know? 

I decided to start a blog, which I reasoned would give me more creative freedom than I would have writing for a magazine. As I started churning out entries on my travel adventures, an incredible thing happened: I found my creative voice and began to love writing again. Writing about my passion has given me the confidence to show my pieces to the world. For the first time in a long time, I feel truly excited about what I am typing on the screen. That is not to say that I don’t see the importance of my nine-to-five work. I appreciate the place that my reports have in the world and am satisfied that they are used to inform policy. But I love my blog posts. They are my creations. They enable me to savor my experiences and, hopefully, inspire others to explore.

My blog’s reception on the web has been positive thus far, and I am exceedingly grateful for that. However, the amount of personal satisfaction I get from this pursuit greatly outweighs any outside praise I could receive. If you need a platform for voicing your passion, create it. If you’re writing about what you love, you’re certain to be a success. 

Check out Alena's blog!