When asked about her career as a writer, Melissa Miles McCarter ’96 finds herself coming back to the same word: vocation.
“I had been writing poetry and short stories since I was four, but reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time at age 11 inspired the idea that I could write books,” she says.
This Scripps philosophy major has done that, forging her path and taking advantage of new opportunities developing within the literary world. She is proud of her entire body of work, yet calls her dissertation, “Envisioning A Postfeminist Compositions Studies,” and memoir, Insanity: A Love Story personal highlights.
“The liberal arts focus [at Scripps College] made me a well-rounded and well-read person,” she says. “You can’t be a writer if you don’t have interesting things to write about or intellectual curiosity.”
McCarter also runs Fat Daddy’s Farm, a small literary press. “Publishing on demand and electronic publishing has made the process so accessible and affordable that it was hard to justify traditional avenues,” she says. “I had gone the traditional route for years but, in the process of producing my memoir three years ago, I discovered I really enjoyed what goes on in the background when creating a book.”
McCarter plans to use the press to publish books from underrepresented genres such as her forthcoming anthology, Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss.
“When writing is a vocation, you should see being a writer as having a writing life,” she says. “This means the emails you write, the essays in class, the blogging you do, are all opportunities to develop your craft. The upside of living a writing life is your body of work isn’t just what gets published or wins accolades, it reflects who you are and want to be.”