In this excerpt from the podcast, Bakopoulos discusses his own decision to write and the advice he now gives to his students. [1:18]
Dean Bakopoulos: I wouldn't think that any of my high school teachers would have thought I would be a novelist. I wrote bad poetry about girls who broke up with me, you know, this average teenage angst-ridden poetry. It was in college at the University of Michigan where I really sort of started to do this seriously and decided that this is what I wanted to do, and I sort of made that announcement to my family that I was going to be a novelist. And when they asked me what my backup plan was I didn't really have one, which I think terrified both of my parents, but they were fairly supportive. They were skeptical but you know, I tell my students now -- so many of them want to be writers -- and sometimes I meet their parents or get an e-mail from their parents or they're very worried about these kids who want to grow up and be creative writers as a career. And I tell them, you know, "This is a really freeing time in American culture because there are unemployed engineers, there are unemployed scientists, there are unemployed computer specialists. You might as well be unemployed because you tried to do what you loved and it didn't work out rather than be unemployed from a job you never really wanted in the first place." So I tell my students, "Go for what you think you want to do. If it doesn't work and you don't have a job, you're no different, it's no different to be an unemployed writer than it is to be an unemployed engineer." You need a plan a plan B at that point. But if you are good and you have some talent and more importantly you have the drive, I tell my students to go for it.