Full-Time Student and Published Author: A Story in gifs

Kat Zhang is crazy busy. She’s a college senior and her debut novel, What’s Left of Me was just released from HarperCollins. Balancing school and writing can be a little tricky. It involves pulling more than a few all-nighters. But Kat’s got a great attitude about it and she’s been nice enough to share her experiences (through gifs) with Figment.


I finished the very first draft of What’s Left of Me during the spring of my freshman year of college. I signed with my agent at the very beginning of sophomore year and HarperCollins bought the trilogy that following spring. At the time of the book’s release, I’m partway through my first semester as a senior. In this way, writing/revising/publishing What’s Left of Me is inextricably woven through my college years.

People often ask how I manage to balance being a student and a writing career. Personally, I find those who manage to balance a full time job and a writing career—or small children and a writing career—or both a full time job and small children and a writing career—to be infinitely more awe-inspiring.

Balancing school and writing can be stressful, yes.

Mostly, it’s just hilarious.

A little while ago, I pulled an all-nighter in an attempt to finish up some book edits and homework. I also made the unfortunate decision to pull said all-nighter right before my longest day of class.

Replicated below are my legitimate notes from my last class of the day, around 3:00 p.m. I swear to all that is good and spell-checked in this world that while writing these notes, I thought they made sense.

“1937 Ransom; a Vandy alum and later professor.
He’s interested in breaking down of texts; structure vd edtrrranl
Critism vs scholarship Technique is cruitial. Hoe does it do aths it dos.
Literary critiques: proffetional
Objective analysis
Not personal appreciationg
Professional cs insuitive
Prffoessino publiv sist intiuive prifate.
Aim for obejctivt
She adi and hauter”

Let us all have a quick moment to hope the professor of said class never reads this post.

Really, though, let’s walk through how we got to that point.

It all begins like this:

You’re coming up on a writing deadline, and it’s the hectic beginning of a school year. But it’s cool. You’ve planned ahead. Everything is under control.

Then a professor springs a ten-page essay . . . due same day as your manuscript.

. . . And your other professor reminds you you’ve got 1000 bazillion pages to read by next week . . .

Let’s not even talk about the state of your inbox . . .

By this time, you’re like, “Universe . . .”

But you persevere! The night passes in a blur that goes something like this . . .

You type!

You caffeinate!

You dance!







. . . all the way through the night, until the sun comes up. Only at some point, the dancing turns to . . .

. . . and . . .

But no matter! It’s time for your first class! You’re tired, but you’re still riding that adrenaline rush . . .

Then it’s time for class #2 . . .


By the time class #3 rolls around, your friends are like . . .

. . . and you’re like . . .

But secretly, on the inside, you’re all . . .

. . . Leading to the embarrassingly awful notes showcased above, which you don’t read until the following day, after a very, very long nap. At which point you think to yourself . . .

But you know what?

Because in return for some extra stress and a few missed nights of sleep, I get some of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I get emails that are just . . .

I get to meet all these amazing, book-loving people who totally understand the overwhelming joy of reading a good story and who react like I do when I reach a particularly wonderful part of a book . . .

And at the end of the day, I look at all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had, I think about how absolutely thrilled I am to be able to share What’s Left of Me with readers around the world, and I think . . .





images (except cover and Kat’s photo) via Reaction GIF Collection

11 thoughts on “Full-Time Student and Published Author: A Story in gifs

  1. Ohh, this made me laugh so hard! Hehe! This is absolutely hysterical. The ones with Taylor Swift, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, and Despicable Me made me crack up especially. XD Pure awesomeness!

  2. I applaud you on your perseverance! I am also a full-time student and aspiring author. While I have yet to get an agent or publishing contract, doing both to work towards your dream can be tough! Those GIFs perfectly showed what it’s like. All of them are true, especially the last one: “These are the moments that make life worth living”. When writing is your passion, you push through everything to reach your dream!

    Of course, school’s important too… xD

  3. I’m in my 3rd year as a full time student at a Community College, going for a graphic design degree. 4 class, all are 3 hours long and on computers. Big screened Mac computers. They hypotise you…and by the time the class is over, you’re like “huh? already?” and everything’s kind of blurry. Or if you’re one of those people who go on facebook during class and get nothing done. I would be switching between designing and typing If I was in your situation. Thankfully I don’t have to write big papers anymore or read boring textbooks/required reading really.
    Most instead of writing my story, I go right for designing book cover and creating characters, and drawing stuff. I love photoshop 🙂
    Awesome, funny images, btw.

  4. Oh my god, I laughed so hard at this!
    This is so true, I think for any student trying to write a book as well. I admire your perseverance and dedication, and look forward to reading your book.

  5. Yes, yes. Type, caffinate, dance, repeat.

    Only you forgot the part where you collapse headfirst into your fishtank at 3 in the morning after becoming certifiably insane and singing Russian folk songs to your goldfish on a ukulele.


    Not that I would know, or anything (poor goldfish).

    lol this was hilarious!

  6. Very inspiring. I am in the process of writing the first draft of a novel and sometimes I wonder if I should just put it off till the weekend or even after college, and this definitely gives me the strength to persevere. You are really a marvel.

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