For the Writers

How Majoring In Geology Made Me A Better Writer

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 6.50.54 PMImage: Gemstone Buzz

I’d always wanted to be a writer. It was time to start thinking about my college major, and I’d told my father, “Writing, for sure.” He was convinced it wouldn’t make me any money. Like so many parents, he required a backup plan.

So I chose psychology initially and ended up falling in love with geology a few weeks into my first semester.

Geology 101 was on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. I always arrived early with a cup of steamy coffee, an extra scarf to fight the lecture hall’s chilly draft, and a spiral notebook where I drew the rolling shapes of anticlines, jotted down the chemical formula for gypsum, and did my best to sketch out a sliced-open sphere to mimic the diagram of the earth’s core in my textbook.

I didn’t write very much during this time. In fact, it’s safe to say that I took a little hiatus. For a few years there, I just wasn’t “in the mood.” I’d taken a break to explore everything else.

I hiked up Seneca Rocks. I gathered grainy soil samples and tried to figure out the stories buried within their innermost parts. I sponged up every nugget of information in my Geography classes (Geology’s complementary cousin), loving the fact that I understood how the earth worked more than most people.

What I’d found was something to talk about, a few subjects that made my eyes light up in a way that they hadn’t before.

I ended up finding the perfect MFA program. The focus: environmental and travel writing. I didn’t write about the earth’s metamorphic layers, though. I wrote poems. I wrote nonfiction. I wrote about everything that wanted to bubble up before but wasn’t ready to surface.


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