Northwestern junior Jacquie Godbe isn’t going to become a writer.
But she’s already published.
Instead of studying writing at Northwestern, she is currently working on a double major in chemistry and integrated science.
Earlier this year, Godbe was selected as winner in a short story contest sponsored by The State(s) of America: The Regina Taylor Project.
“I got an email I think in late November from one of the writing group listservs that I lurk on,” Godbe said. “I signed up for it as a freshman when I was under the illusion that I would have free time on my hands. It was requesting short stories about the future of America related to methods of transportation for the Regina Taylor Project.
“Regina Taylor is an actress, and she’s working with Northwestern theatre students to put on a series of short plays and stuff on the Internet. I didn’t give it much thought and then I saw the date was three days after my exams were finished. Because of swimming, I was going to have to be on campus anyway until we left for our training trip.
“I said ‘You know, I have a short story that I wrote when I was in middle school and it kind of fits the guidelines.’ So when I finished exams, I spent three days doctoring it, fixing it up, editing my middle and high school writing style into something more appropriate and sent it in.”
Those three days of editing paid off, as Godbe’s short story was selected as one of three contest winners. Godbe was scheduled to present her short story, entitled “Safe Conduct,” in mid-February at a bookstore in Evanston, Ill., but the event was snowed out.
This was not Godbe’s first foray into writing for a wide audience. In fact, she has been writing for as long as she can remember.
“I don’t really remember how I got started,” Godbe said. “I’ve kind of been writing stuff ever since I was little and I enjoyed it. In middle school, one of my good friends wrote fantasy just because she liked it and I was involved with a couple of school projects that were short stories. Eventually it just became more structured to the point where I could write a whole book and that was kind of fun.”
Continuing in the science fiction/fantasy genre, Godbe became interested in having an actual book of her own writing and pursued that goal.
“I looked into it a lot and I did a lot of research,” said Godbe. “I started to do it the normal way and wrote a lot of query letters to agents and tried to get my book accepted by a publisher. After about six months to a year of that, I gave up. I just wanted a book to hold in my hands. I’m not in this to make a profit.
“So I self-published (using an on-line vendor). I marketed the book to my friends and family and I even went and did a reading at the summer camp my sister attended. That was really fun. It was very local and I was able to get my hands on a book. It was never big but it was the experience I wanted. I had a book and people were able to read my book and that was really important to me.”
The book is published under a pseudonym and is available on Amazon.com. NCAA rules dictate that a student-athlete who writes a book under a pseudonym may also use the pseudonym in the promotion and sale of the book, provided the student-athletes’ name does not appear in the book or in any promotional material and the student-athlete is not involved in any in-person activities related to the promotion or sale of the book.
“It was kind of a whim,” said Godbe of the decision to publish using a pseudonym rather than her true last name. “Now, looking back and knowing about NCAA rules, it worked out really nicely.”
Godbe is clearly enjoying having writing as just a side venture among her other activities.
“I love writing,” Godbe said. “But I get horrible writers block. I could never do it for a living, so I’m going to be boring and work in science. I know I’m going to go to grad school. Right now, I don’t know if I want to pursue a Ph.D. and work with alternative energy or pursue an M.D./Ph.D. and pursue medicinal applications of chemistry. Both of them sound really interesting to me but they are clearly two opposite ends of the field so I have to pick within the next four or five months or so and start taking the tests.”
In the pool, Godbe swam the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 backstroke at last month’s Big Ten Championships and swam the third leg on NU’s 800 free relay team that placed seventh. Despite her demanding schedule as a student-athlete at Northwestern, Godbe is enjoying the experience.
“You have to love what you do,” she said. “When I’m swimming, I’m not doing physics homework, and when I’m working on physics, I’m not swimming. It’s really important to keep that separation. I love my teammates. They’re one of the best things that has happened to me.”
Northwestern’s Integrated Sciences Program and swimming programs were the critical decisions in Godbe’s college choice.
“I picked Northwestern because it was really one of the only really great academic schools that had Division I swimming,” Godbe said. “I also looked at University of Chicago and I didn’t feel satisfied. I could have walked on and been one of the best on the team and I didn’t want that. I wanted to push myself and see how far I could go. I came to Northwestern, I knew I was going to be one of the slowest girls on the team walking on and it was hard but I think I made the right choice. I have been so challenged and that’s what I love.”