By Ty San Andres/reporter
NE English literature instructor and TCC alumni Rebecca Balcarcel took a creative writing class at TCC when she was in college, and it launched her career as a creative writer.
Balcarcel works primarily as an instructor but also writes on the side. Her first novel, The Other Half of Happy, features an original story about a 12-year-old girl who’s half Latina and half white and her journey to find happiness within a culture that she once neglected.
Her passion for writing started at 12 years old but didn’t come to fruition until she was 20.
“There was always a voice in [her] head that said, ‘You can’t be a writer,’” she said.
But despite personal qualms, she decided to take creative writing at TCC. She took the class out of curiosity and had no expectations.
“That class changed my life,” Balcarcel said as she reminisced about the days she spent as a student discussing and writing literature with her former classmates.
At the time, she was majoring in psychology, but she said she had so much fun in that class she decided to get a degree in creative writing and literature instead.
Being in that class, talking to other passionate writers, working on writing projects, “just felt so right,” she said.
She describes the feeling of being so alive and inspired as unavoidable, and she wanted to keep that feeling forever.
Balcarcel said she had a moment of self-realization after poet Linda Pastan held a writing lecture at TCC. Seeing an accomplished female writer only fueled her, making it seem possible.
Doubtful thoughts like “you can’t be a writer” suddenly turned into thoughts of conviction like “I can be that.”
After getting her degree, she returned to TCC to thank her old creative writing professor, and was welcomed with an opportunity. Having just graduated, they asked her to teach the creative writing class, which she gladly accepted.
“It gave me a chance to prove myself,” Balcarcel said.
She ended up loving it, and the same school that galvanized her passion ended up opening another door as a teacher.
While she juggles both teaching and writing, teaching comes first. She finds joy in coming up with interesting assignments and activities for her students.
“I feel like teaching is also creativity,” Balcarcel said.
Balcarcel sees the beauty in teaching and understands the impact it can have on her students. She realizes that everybody is in her classroom for a reason. Whether it be for a credit or to cultivate one’s craft, she strives to help her students reach their potential.
She knows what it feels like to have doubts. Having gone through her own personal journey, she wants to use her expertise to help others.
However, there is a sacrifice. She doesn’t have as much time to write.
“I’m having fun both ways,” Balcarcel said.
She writes on weekends, at midnight or early in the morning. Balcarcel really hones in on her writing in the summer.
“I was writing all day, from the second I woke up,” Balcarcel said.
Her novel started to take form during those days in the summer where all she would do was write. Admittedly, she does wish that she could spend more time working on potential novels, yet she finds solace in the fact that teaching is not only a job, but a passion as well.