This week — music news only for Inside.com!

I feel like a kid at Christmas unwrapping that Red Rider BB Gun. I’m writing music news — and only music news — all this week for Inside.com (and the Inside app for Android, iOs, and Blackberry). Follow the news feed here.

A couple of the stories I curated today -- Miley getting tracks readied with the Flaming Lips and good old CB getting in trouble again. Also, Iggy Azalea responds to Spears song leak; George R.R. Martin is a Deadhead; Joni Mitchell lands court-appointed conservator; and Vegas pool party brawl for Ludacris (whom I have met and he's really short btw)

A couple of the stories I curated today — Miley getting tracks readied with the Flaming Lips and good old CB getting in trouble again. Also, Iggy Azalea responds to Spears song leak; George R.R. Martin is a Deadhead; Joni Mitchell lands court-appointed conservator; and Vegas pool party brawl for Ludacris (whom I have met and he’s really short btw). 

I have found myself in a music journalism position over and over again in life. If I hadn’t found one, I created one. I remember being on the air for mornings at KZZP — well before the Internet got all fancy and we had Facebook, social media, even video. I didn’t even know what a CMS was back then. I probably only had five things online to log into and one was Hotmail… So things weren’t very far advanced. But I decided I would somehow create a “celebrity guestbook” feature on our website since we had so many famous people coming through our studios. I was met with resistance so it never came to be. I remember my morning show host bitching at me, “You’re wasting your time with this web stuff! It’s not going anywhere!” Now it’s 2015 and we can add that to the list of “I told you so’s” I’ve given him over the years. He also thought “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” would be a flop and wouldn’t let me play my interview with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett on the air! Ha!

Times have changed and I am happy to change with the times. It’s 2015 and I have 16 years of radio under my belt, a liberal arts degree from Boston University, a journalism certificate from Paradise Valley Community College, actual print/web/online journalism experience, and just basic life experience. (Yes, I have been blessed with much life experience most wish they never have to have). I think I’m just so happy to keep my journalism skills going right now. I’m also happy to be back in love with writing again.

Thanks for checking out my blog and progress this year. I have a freelance writing career as well as a creative writing practice that involves three novels in progress as well as much poetry… There is a lot more to come!

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Should I get an MFA in creative writing?

I really hope someone will see this post and comment openly and honestly. Because I came across this blog started by some ’08 MFA grads and it’s really got me thinking.

I really just want a master’s degree. I could get it in anything. But getting an MFA in creative writing just sounds so fun to me. I work full-time in radio as a morning personality and my writing has therefore taken a backseat over the last six months. I just now started freelance writing again for HalogenTV.com. I usually write general interest-type features. This marks the second time I’ve written about a vegan lifestyle, which is one of my interests. I wrote a “How I Went Vegan” piece years ago for Veg News magazine. (See it here on my Media Bistro profile).

I like writing for HalogenTV.com because Halogen — the cable channel and website — is all about social good. As someone who wrote “bad news” for so long (local, national, and entertainment gossip) it’s really refreshing to write about topics that affect society in a positive way. I’ve done journalism for broadcast, online, and print. It’s a great skill to have and I’m certain it makes me a better broadcaster.

As a morning personality, I have a responsibility to my city to be responsible on the air. If you’ve heard our show, you know we play a lot of music and have a ton of laughter happening every morning. But every once in a while some major newsy thing happens, like the day Bin Laden was killed. And we can’t go on air our normal joking selves on a day like that. It’s then that Journalist Heather Larson snaps to attention and comes on air with proper presentation of the facts so our listening audience is served properly.

So again, journalism is a good skill to have. I wouldn’t get a degree in it these days just because of the job outlook on that. I think now if you want to do journalism for a living you should get a degree in new media or just learn how to make tablet apps.

But really, why get a master’s degree in creative writing? 

It’s probably worse than the bachelor in liberal studies I obtained from Boston University last year! Every time I tell someone I have a BLS, they ask me if I can say, “would you like fries with that?” in Latin. But how many of us actually use the degree we have in our career? Radio personalities certainly don’t need a degree in anything. I know many in my industry who have no degree at all.

So this decision I am struggling to make isn’t about a career move, although I’m sure a master’s degree of any kind can’t hurt a person no matter what their chosen career path is. Wanting to get an MFA in creative writing is about feeding that part of myself that actually liked to attend creative writing class in summer school. As a kid in Scottsdale, AZ, I used to love the long bus ride in summer school in 100+ degree weather just because it took me to my creative writing class. And sadly, it was the only true creative writing class I ever had. I have taken screenwriting at the community college level (twice!) and every English class I could lump into my schedule. I love language classes too (you mean I can sign up for Arabic next semester? Let me just register for that right now). I’m the type who has a box of old journals — a really big, heavy box — stored in the darkest recess of my home. I swear, I will do something with them someday… You also may have noticed you are reading WriterHeather.wordpress.com. Enough said!

So I think my desire to do an MFA program is really about taking my creative writing side to the next level while getting a degree. Is that a good reason to dedicate a huge chunk of time in my life to getting an MFA in creative writing?

Because let’s face it — school is for people who need to be taught. 

I can write creatively on my own. I can write on my own time and figure out how to publish. Anyone can do that. It’s like people who take classes on how to blog… Really? You paid to take a blogging class? All you have to do is open a Blogger or TypePad or WordPress account and get it done. You do read blogs don’t you? I mean, I don’t want to be that person who has to be taught something that can just as easily be figured out with a little curiosity and independence.

But if I enroll in an MFA program, I’ll be around other writers! I’d be in a community, an environment! I’d feel like I was a part of something. I’d feel like I had peers. I’d have professors who would encourage me. Right now, I’m writing in what little spare time I have (like right now, on a national holiday). No one encourages my writing, save for my Halogen editor who is awesome and just doing her job.

Sorry for the long posting today. Thanks for reading down this far! I’m really not sure if I will enroll in the MFA program that has caught my eye. I’m just a year out of BU and still remember all too well how much time and dedication it takes to balance work, school, and life while doing a degree program. At the moment, I really am enjoying lazy Sundays with coffee, a gluten-free bagel with vegan cream cheese and HBO. Maybe in seven more months, I’ll be adding homework to that Sunday morning ritual…

Follow me on Twitter @heatherlarson or leave me a comment here, please!

I am looking for freelance writing gigs as I re-brand myself

I am on a furlough day today.  After catching up on “The Office” and “Community” on Hulu.com this morning, my attention naturally drifted towards searching the Internet for freelance writing gigs.  As a full-time entertainment news writer suffering a severe pay cut, I feel the need to support my writing habit with…more writing jobs.

So I begin a serious search for gigs once again for the first time in nearly two years.  I honestly don’t remember where I found the good gigs before.  Some quick searches today showed me that ads online for gigs haven’t changed much in two years.  I used to apply for any and every appealing gig I saw–and took every single one I was offered.  I had to; freelancing was my primary income.  I would like my freelance income to supplement my main income today, as I do have a full-time job and therefore not as much time to freelance.

Branding

The other thing I want to accomplish with freelancing now that I didn’t think about before is personal branding.  Each gig I take now is an opportunity to increase my personal brand.  I can write about anything.  Freelance writers are generalists and being able to write about any and every subject assigned to you is survival.  But there are a few things I am really good at like music news, entertainment news, podcasting, being a radio personality, writing for the web, national news, and anything pop culture.  Actually, increasing my pop culture brand is the best thing I can do right now.

My Brand: Pop Culture

I think that’s a good goal above all else: increase my brand as a pop culture writer/content provider. Because I can create pop culture content for the web, print, and broadcast.  I hope you’ll join me as I blog about my career recreation right now.  Is it a recreation?  A makeover?  A re-branding?  I am not sure which word applies best to what I am trying to do.  I guess we’ll see as time goes on how this evolves…