Name: Lericka “Elle” Bryant-Henry
College & Majors/Minors: Southern New Hampshire University, B.A. English Literature and Creative Writing with a concentration in Non-fiction writing/ M.A. in English and Creative Writing
Current Location: Laureldale, PA
Current Form of Employment: Business owner, Writer, and English Tutor. For published works, I’m professionally known by my pseudonym Elle Henry.
Where do you work and what is your current position?
Currently, I’m juggling many roles! I’m a full-time writer working on my fourth book, I’m a blogger for a local newspaper, and I recently opened an editing service assisting new and established self-published authors with editing and proofreading help named Tres Chic Edits.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I saw my purpose in life, and it was writing. I left a very lucrative government job to focus on school and writing full-time. Everyone thought I was insane. But I wasn’t happy in that civil service position and it was reflecting negativity in my personal life. For those who know me well they will tell you that I eat, sleep, dream, and breathe the written word. I love writing so much; I'm working on my second English Literature degree. My life was stagnant before I joined the English major community. One day I woke up looking down two different paths… (paraphrasing Robert Frost, roll with me).
I needed a change, but I didn’t know which way I wanted to go. I’ve always carried a journal. I was always encouraged to write; however, creatively I was still silent. Determined, I persevered by believing in myself—I finished my B.A. in English and Creative Writing and my first book of poetry and stories Pieces of Me. I could have chosen the easier route continuing to work for the government with everything handed to me. Instead, I chose the road less traveled, working hard for a career I was passionate about only to flourish. I haven't stopped writing since dedicating myself to this dream full-time. I love the written word so much that it's my desire to one day influence young girls to write creatively. I was always the girl with glasses who read books, now look at me… the girl with glasses who writes books!
After leaving my life as a civil servant, I started my writing career as a book reviewer and blogger on my Avid Writer Elle site. This site is also dedicated to my life as writer struggling to publish and find autonomy in this huge literary community. From there, I heard about a blogging community called Hype Orlando, a subsidiary of the Orlando Sentinel in Orlando, Florida. I submitted my proposal for “Candidly Elle,” a blog describing not only my life as a writer, but my candid take on popular culture and current events.
Deciding to take my English education and focus on editing was a chance I’ve battled back and forth with for a while. I remember when I first started out—no one really wanted to provide any insight on self-publishing to an English major. I felt the community was a little exclusive, and they looked down on those who pursued a higher education in English or Creative Writing. Deciding to flip that, I opened Tres Chic Edits, and now I not only provide editing services, but I also provide writing consultations to those struggling to find their footing in the publishing world.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
In my pre-English major position, I was an Executive Assistant at two Naval hospitals. This position required a lot of attention to detail because I was the voice for all outgoing correspondence and evaluations for military and civilian personnel. It was a very daunting position because I was the assistant to a department head that housed 500+ people. Having a strong background in English was very important. I incorporate that attention to detail into my current writing and editing jobs.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I didn’t participate in any internships (which I now regret) due to being a military spouse with a deployed husband at the time. So, I definitely encourage internships—they help you transition easier into your chosen profession.
I did find a few likeminded individuals who encouraged my writing. We formed a group holding weekly meetings to catch up on school topics, while working on writing prompts in the group to further enhance our writing. This not only helped in terms of preparing me for certain creative writing courses; I was more exposed to constructive criticism of my work.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
As English majors, we are already subjected to the “you can’t find a job in that major…” line. I believe as a writer, we tend to be the most judgmental, harboring the most uncertainty when it comes to our work. There’s a quote I put in my first book, Pieces of Me, specifically to inspire writers with self-doubt. “Just grab a pen and write, don’t stress about the critics. When it’s all said and done someone will love it.” The same could be applied to an English major pursuing a different profession outside of writing. Believe enough in yourself to follow your dreams, and if you stay true to that motto, everything else in life will fall into place.