But two local young women — Diane Draper of Williamsport and Jensen Roman of Falling Waters, W.Va. — took a less common path after school.
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They each wrote and published a novel.
In getting their stories into print, Draper and Roman had to confront obstacles — friends' doubts, family expectations and the authors' own fears and insecurities, not to mention the challenge of sticking with the solitary work of writing for months and months.
But they persevered, finished their projects and learned a thing or two about themselves.
They each came into The Herald-Mail to talk about their novels.
Fictional romance reflects real-life love
Roman's novel, "Experiment XIII," tells the story of Ellie, a small-town girl living in Montana in 2041, who meets a dark-haired stranger and falls in love. Turns out the stranger has escaped from a horrific science experiment that gave him extraordinary powers, and the people running the experiment want him back.
Roman, 22, graduated from Hedgesville High School in 2007. She said the sci-fi/romance story idea came to her long before she started writing it.
"I got the main idea in my head when I was a freshman in high school. It wouldn't stop nagging me. I'm like, 'I don't want to write it right now. Just wait,'" she said. "Sophomore year, junior year, senior year, it just kept nagging me. 'Write, write, write.' Then I went down to visit my husband's family in Florida, and I'm like, 'OK, I'm just going to start writing you. That way, you'll leave me alone.'"
Turned out the story reflected Roman's own love life — minus the horrible science experiment.
"I've had my flings. I've had my heart broken at least three times," Roman said. "So the romance is kind of like mine. It's just spur-of-the-moment — first comes friendship, then it becomes romance, then gets stronger."
Ellie first encounters Athen, the experimental refugee, when she and her brother, Lee, exit a movie theater. Ellie is turned off by the sullen, withdrawn, badly injured young man, but Lee insists on helping Athen, and eventually Ellie warms up to him.
Roman said her romance with her husband, Yasmany Roman, also started in a low-key, unexpected way.
"We met (in) a chat room. He lived in Florida and I lived up here. People were telling me, ‘There's no way this relationship's going to happen,'" she said. "Well, one year later, he started calling. He said he wanted to see me. He rode a Greyhound bus for three days to come up here. One year later, we got married."
Now married a year, the couple live near Roman's parents, Curtis and Melissa Jones, in Falling Waters, W.Va. Jensen Roman writes full time and her husband is training to be a law enforcement officer.
Roman said she is largely a self-taught writer. Her imagination took off when she read J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
"That got me started. I started writing in my freshman year of high school — just little scripts of plays," she said.