Exploring Careers in Writing with CLAS Alumnus T. Stephens

Are you interested in pursuing a career as an author? Check out this alumni interview with T. Stephens, author of Dante’s Cypher.

In this post:

Alumni Insights

T. Stephens ’93
Author, Dante’s Cypher
Website: http://dantescypher.tateauthor.com
Email: t.stephens1@outlook.com

UCONN GRAD-FAMILY

Why did you decide to pursue a career in writing?
Writing for me is not a career, it is a calling. I have found writing to be an incredibly rewarding (and very challenging) way of expressing yourself. I dabbled in newspapers and magazines because I felt I could write compelling stories. The stories for the novels come to me at the most unsuspecting time. I’ll see something happen, and that will trip a cascade of story lines based on that occurrence. That’s why I say it is a calling. It calls to me. You have to have an open mind (a little bit of lunacy probably helps too!), and not quell the creative flow while it is happening. I wrote my first published novel (so far), approximately 15 years ago. It took 12 years for a publisher to pick it up, and was released two years ago. It HAS to be a calling to stick with it for that long!

What are the current trends affecting your industry?
Self-publishing is becoming huge. The reason for this, is because of a few things. What I believe to be the driving issue is that the huge publishing houses are killing publishing. Whereas historically, publishers were looking for something that was well written and an excellent story, now the focus is mostly on marketability and sales. I am not saying that self-publishing is saving the writing world one epic opus at a time, but it is providing more readers, more options to form their own opinions, on what THEY like, not just what the publishing houses think is marketable.

What advice do you have for current students looking to enter this field?
Stay adamant. Perseverance is a must! Don’t just listen to the rejections. Push through. Believe! Yes, you might need to address some things about your writing and edits, but don’t feed into other people’s doubts. I nicknamed my Novel, “The Song of No,” because it got rejected so many times. So what? Believe and press on! Don’t listen to the Naysayers. There will be plenty of them.

What skills do you need to succeed as an author?
Perseverance, Flexibility, Drive. Be able to handle criticism. (There’s going to be a lot of it.)

Do you need a specific educational background to enter this career?
Not at all, you need the will and drive to write.

Any additional advice you would share with current UConn students?
Your entire life is in front of you. What are you going to do with it? Pay the bills and grow old? Or live a life worth living!?

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NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism
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By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt