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From Law School to Home School

Mari L. McCarthy April 14, 2015

By Scott Keen


ScarDowners_CVR_SMLWhen I was in 9th grade, one of my teachers told my mom that I would never be happy in a 9-to-5 job. As the years went on, I graduated college, decidedly ignored this “prophetic” statement, and applied for 9-to-5 jobs anyway. Eventually, I even went to law school under the belief that I wanted to be a lawyer. Unfortunately though, during the Orientation weekend (before classes even started), I knew it wasn’t for me.


Being a lawyer is definitely not like any one of the three thousand lawyer TV shows. The professors said, if you don't like law school, you won't like being a lawyer.  And, I'm not judging everyone who's gone to law school, but many of my classmates were quite zealous for the law and classes, which made it somewhat difficult to hang around them. If you had to cancel plans with any of them, they would annoyingly start telling you how you supposedly broke a “verbal contract.” This, along with the extreme lack of creativity in lawyering, is simply one of the main reasons I knew this profession wasn’t for me.


I tried for a semester to make it work. I thought maybe it was just my attitude, so I worked on that. I even started dressing up (tie, dress pants, etc.) thinking that would help. It didn't improve anything. Then, I just dove headfirst into it! I read, researched, and studied. I went to the Law Library and worked for hours there. Next, I tried to sort of "rebel" against it, like if I dressed how I wanted to and bleached my hair, I would feel like I was still myself and then be okay with not liking my career choice. I talked to my professors, the deans, my friends. I prayed about it, debated, fretted, and anything else I could.


During this time I came across some reading material from the Communication school. They offered an MA and MFA in Script and Screenwriting. I never even knew those were options.  But when I saw the degree descriptions, suddenly my life made sense.


I thought back to my teenage self when I would write, not novels or stories, but thoughts, feelings, and music. Then, as an undergraduate I took a screenwriting class, and I remember feeling that I was just scratching the surface of something within me, something that wanted to break free. 


I didn’t make the decision to switch from Law School to Scriptwriting on a whim, even though it may have seemed like that to some people around me. It was actually more like a seed had been under the surface and suddenly it broke forth… a surprise to everyone who had no idea that the seed had been there.


Well, getting that MFA took some time, and during that season of my life, I got married and started having kids. My wife (having finished her degree before me) managed to land a full-time job first, which put me as the stay-at-home one. Fast-forward many years (and many rejected job applications on my end), and she’s still the one working and I’m still the one at home. Changing diapers, fixing hair, homeschooling, and oh yeah, trying to write a novel and get it published – my life is definitely not 9-to-5, and though it may be mundane, it’s rarely boring.


Were those words from my teacher “prophetic?” Maybe she was just a good teacher and made an astute observation.


But meanwhile, here I am, over 20 years later, not working a 9-to-5 job. I have to say, I'm okay with that.


IMG_6555About the Author: 


Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools. He blogs at www.scottkeenbooks.com.


About Scar of the Downers:

Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.


Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.


Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master's store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings while scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master's house and is sentenced to death.


To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before--escape from the city of Ungstah.