Erica Smith, a full-time college student majoring in literature with an emphasis on modern American Black Literature and race theory, recently published her first book of poetry, Dear Beautiful Woman. While attending Kutztown University she also works full-time in the operations department at the university. After graduation, Erica hopes to pursue her doctorate in literature at Howard University.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
Authors Zora Neal Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and Nella Larsen (Passing) triggered my interest to become a writer. I fell in love with their books and wanted to write stories like theirs.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
I love character building and shaping the consciousness of all of my characters. It allows me to step out of my own consciousness and try to see things from different perspectives.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
At Kutztown University, I majored in professional writing with a minor in literature. I am working on my master’s degree as I continue to evolve as a writer.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
People have been encouraging my work as a creative writer/poet. I always thought I would be a high school teacher but during my undergraduate studies, I realized that I had bigger dreams and wanted to accomplish more. This led me to keep working and kept me on track to being a book author.
When did your career reach a tipping point?
When I couldn’t find an editor or receive any help. This caused me to stop writing for about two years, but something kept bringing me back to the idea of publishing my own book.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
I have thought about different careers. I was going to be a teacher, then an accountant, or join the Air Force. But, those career paths just weren’t right for me and I’m extremely glad that I stuck with my current career
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
I had to overcome self-doubt. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t a good writer or that I would never sell any books. However, over the years I decided I didn’t want to live a life of regrets. I decided to get out of my own way and take a chance.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
My ability to push through “writer’s block.” The trick is to just keep writing.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My first poetry collection, Dear Beautiful Woman.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
My advice for others is to never give up, live in your purpose, and believe in yourself.
Dear Beautiful Woman
Author photo and book cover courtesy of Erica Smith