Life, Left Over


Posted on: June 2, 2011

A discussion with an old friend today came around somehow to my writing skills, my love of academic writing, etc etc. It got me thinking about why I persisted in majoring in English even though everyone knows the lyrics to Avenue Q. I even readily admitted that it would have been better to flip my major and minor (Psychology). After all, at that point, I was planning to get a masters and be an LPC, so the psych major would have been very beneficial. Things change, though. My life has definitely NOT taken that route.

I’ve been burdened with an amount of regret for staying committed to the English major. After all, it’s not readily useful. I retain vague dreams of being a novelist, but an English degree is definitely not required for that. What else do you do with it except become a professor? Please, join me in laughing off our asses at the idea of me being a teacher.
But what I told myself was that I had known that college was what I wanted ever since I knew what college was, and what I had always wanted to study was literature. I love literature. I love it. I have always loved it. I love digging deep into it, finding connections, drawing them out and arranging them neatly and displaying it for all to see. I love diving into the tales of different people, in different times, seen through different eyes. Charles Dickens has been my favorite author since I was ten years old. And yes, I like writing academic essays. Forgive me for bragging, but anybody who’s read mine will tell you that they kick ass. It’s something that I’m good at, probably because it’s something that I love, and it’s what I have wanted for basically my entire life. (Horrific flashforward of college prof reading and thinking “omg dude you do not rock what is wrong with you.”)

If I could have my dream job, it’d be reading literature, writing lengthy essays, and publishing them in dry academic journals for 5 people to read. I’m dead serious. (I’d also take a position as an editor or proofreader for a publishing company.) This love and desire is what drove me to start my Textbook Leftovers site, which you’ll notice is on hiatus at the moment if you follow that link. I spent 3 or 4 months thinking about that site before I actually started it. And then I hit a wall. My style of writing is entertaining and engaging and accessible… for an academic essay. Not really gonna get many fans on the internet. This place is about instant gratification. The people who populate the internet do not read the introduction essay at the beginning of their Penguin Classics, if they read those books at all. Nobody cares.

No, I didn’t start TbLo to become a famous blogger. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind once in a while, though. I mean, if a guy with a twitter account can get a tv show starring William Shatner, then I damn well have a chance of somebody noticing my awesome writing and making me rich and famous. But there’s this crisis of wanting to write an essay and wanting to write something bloggy. Trying to balance the conversational, accessible style of a blog with my academic style is giving me lots of grief. There’s also an element of “this is a waste of your time” grief in there, preventing me from doing the literary blog thing. So no matter how minuscule the chance of that blog ever meaning anything, I’m certainly not going to accomplish it if I don’t do anything.

Easier said than done.



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