A&E

Incorporating the Creative Arts in a Professional Job: Sarah Todd reflects on writing a novel amid her role in the Center for Careers.

      Sarah Todd and her friend, Keely Cutts, have embarked on the massive journey that is writing a novel, and together no less. Both of them work in institutions of higher education. Todd is our esteemed Director of the Center for Career Development here at Eastern University and Cutts works at Rosemont College. Somehow, they managed to find balance between their creativity and their jobs.

      Todd says that writing has become a way to take care of herself, but that it took a while for her to get there. After finishing her undergrad in English, she worked at Children’s Book World, located on the Main Line, and was inspired constantly by the books she was reading and by authors she discovered. When  she started working on her Master’s in Education, however, she no longer had time to really work on anything creative. It was only after her first year here at Eastern that she began to make time to write again. Currently, Todd and Cutts are on the third draft of their novel.

      “[There’s] something very unique about getting to create something with another person that’s different from creating alone,” Todd said.

      She and Cutts met at Oxford, while both were studying abroad there during their undergrad, and found that they were both really good at encouraging each other.

      “There’s a lot of our friendship poured into this story… and you need to trust the person you’re writing with, and be willing to look silly in front of them. Sometimes you’ll try things and they just won’t work,” Todd said.

      Apart from writing a novel with Cutts, Todd teaches a few classes that allow her to express her love for books and writing. She teaches Young Adult Literature (ENGL 236) in the summer (which is one of the courses that will be offered for Fast Pass starting this summer), a section of INST 150, and is an adjunct for Intro to Creative Writing (ENGL 245). Alongside that, she has attended the Rutgers Conference at Rutgers University, for which she had to submit a few pages of another of her novel projects and got to talk to either an editor or an agent about the first five pages of the novel. She also goes to Highlights Foundation in Milanville, PA, a writing retreat for children’s authors, along with Cutts, in order to focus more on her creative side – and to give herself a break from her sometimes all-consuming job.

      It is possible to be creative in a job field where that creativity may be limited, but it requires extra work. Todd gives some advice for maintaining the self-care part of writing: 1. To have other writers who support you or have a good group of people championing you to write more, 2. Don’t stop reading in your genre because “…writing is not just output, it’s input too;” 3. Lastly, Anne Lamott’s advice about putting your butt in a chair is the best advice she can give. This means that instead of talking about writing, or making playlists, or even just putting pictures together, you actually have to sit down and make yourself write (even if this means you write during your twenty minute lunch break or between classes). You have to park yourself in front of your computer and write.

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