CU-Boulder senior Ian Gammie has wanted to be a writer since the 5th grade when he rewrote the ending of "Where the Red Fern Grows" because he didn’t like the original ending. The experience of writing what he considered a happier and better conclusion to the 1961 coming-of-age novel set the stage for Gammie to pursue a career as an author.
Gammie, who majored in creative writing and advertising, graduated Dec. 20 as the Outstanding Journalism Graduate for the fall semester. Each semester the schools and colleges on the CU-Boulder campus select outstanding graduates.
The honor is a culmination of Gammie’s persistent dedication to the craft of writing.
“I was honestly a little surprised when I found that out,” said Gammie, who’s from Centennial, Colo. “I've worked with a lot of smart and hard working students in the journalism school, so to get this award is a huge honor.”
Gammie credits a strong support base throughout his time at CU and is thankful to his family for enabling him to take advantage of special opportunities.
For example, during his sophomore year Gammie was an exchange student at the University of East Anglia, a sister school with CU-Boulder and the top writing school in the United Kingdom. He spent last summer in Munich, conducting Web research and making design suggestions for Ludwig Maximilian University’s efforts to launch a new website.
One of the professors who has had a profound influence on him is Stephen Graham Jones, an English professor and prolific writer. Gammie took a creative writing course from Jones, who also served as the advisor for Gammie’s honors thesis.
“I’ve had some really good professors,” Gammie said. “The difference in the quality of my writing is like night and day since I’ve been at CU. When I read stories I wrote in my freshman year I’m embarrassed that I wrote them. Learning how to sit down and write 2,000 words a day is one of the big things I’ll take away from my time here.”
As he refines his career goals, Gammie knows that writing must play a major role. He has written more than 200 pages of his first novel, an urban fantasy. Meanwhile, he enjoys the design side of advertising and sees that major as a way to provide him with a paying career until his writing career takes off.
His advice to aspiring writers is simple, yet quite difficult to carry out at times; set a goal to write a certain number of words of any kind of writing every day. Writers must be diligent about honing their skills.
“If I take a week off,” said Gammie, “my first couple of days back writing is usually stuff I can’t even use. When you get out of the mindset of writing, it becomes a lot more difficult to get back into it. Getting that first word on the page can be tough. Stay consistent and stay productive.”
And his advice to all CU-Boulder students is to show their school spirit by attending events, particularly sports.
“Some of the best times I’ve had at CU were at the basketball games screaming my head off,” he said. “Embracing school spirit is a big part of being at CU.”