PRE-POST WARNING: This entry contains a large portion of unedited angst, and should be read only by those who have a sturdy constitution and are not easily moved to nausea. If you begin to experience dizziness, depression, irritation of the eyes or brain, fits of scoffing, flare-ups associated with offense-taken, a desire to whine back at the current whiner, or an uncontrollable urge to retort in defense of the below-mentioned subject, please immediately cease reading and consult your physician/therapist immediately. WordPress is completely absolved of any responsibility for injuries to oneself or others as a result of reading this angsty, b*tchy, moany, unfortunately very “English major”-y post.
I’m tired of English professors telling me “not to give up on my dreams” when I tell them I’m not going to pursue a graduate English degree. I don’t like the way they think they know what my dreams are, or the way they think I’m not following them by not getting a Masters or PhD in English. I blame myself for their lack of information which leads them to these conclusions.
The truth is, the truth that I’ve never dared tell them, is that I HATE English. At least as a subject. That’s not wholly true: I do like reading literature, and I do like occasionally writing essays on subjects of interest. I like how it has taught me to think differently. More precisely, I hate what it means to be “in English.” I find most of the kids to be pompous idiots who think they’re deeper than they are. At first, I thought this was just the students, but now I realize it’s just about everyone in the department (with several strong exceptions, naturally. You know who you are). I think there’s a whole lot of B.S. floating around in the air of the Humanities buildings, and I’m not sure it goes unnoticed as much as I feel it does. English departments are angsty things, people. Even the teachers can be the most immature, easily offended people I’ve ever met. There’s an unhealthy, overdeveloped sense of self-worth in these places, that somehow “geniuses” walk here on hallowed ground. Some sensation that English is the only “True Academia” or some other B.S. like that.
But as much as this stuff annoys me, I get through it day after day knowing that sooner or later I’ll be away from all this moaning about how awful life is, and how *cruel* it is, and how Kafka had everything–EVERYTHING–right when he said hope was the worst temptation. You know what? Life is hard enough without having to listen to people bitch and moan about how hard it is. They’re not changing anything, they’re just stating the obvious over and over and over again. Change of venue, anyone? Check please!
GAH. But really, what gets under my skin is the fact that so many of my professor think that because I’m allegedly good at English/essays/whatever-that-means that my ultimate goal, my life-long dream, my plan-above-all-plans MUST be to become an English professor myself.
Sorry, but…no. I have no patience for the English departments now, how could I possibly have patience for it from an authoritative position?
Or if not an English PROFESSOR, clearly when I say I want to write “fiction,” I must mean I want to write deep, tortured, heavily-stylized prose that will sing to the inner soul and elevate our minds to a whole new dimension of misery and self-loathing. When I tell them I want to write SF and Fantasy, they still don’t seem to get it. They somehow have this deep, tortured kind of SF/Fantasy in mind, I guess, because they still seem to think that it’ll be very ENGLISH in nature.
I promise folks, if I can at all help it, it won’t be.
I want to write fun stuff. I want to write a vast array of SF, from hard to space opera, and I want to play with Fantasy to come up with the warmest, fuzziest stuff that can be created without turning to cheese. I want to make people laugh, make them giggle, make them sigh. I want warm-fuzzy tears. Because that’s what I love. Those precious *squeee!* moments. I love it when I can do that. Sure, I write dark stuff too. I’ve got a couple stories that would make your hair stand on end, and I love doing that too. But I want to write my themes, my explorations, my ideological changes without having to feel any kind of pressure to become some GREAT ARTIST! I’ve been fighting with my inner ego for years over this issue, and I’m just trying to get to a place where I can write for myself, without the pressure, because that’s when I produce the stuff I really like. (Whether or not it ever gets sold.)
I sometimes get the feeling that my English professors are trying to live a little vicariously through me, as though I’m some sparkling young protege with BIG IDEAS and REAL POTENTIAL. But I don’t. I’m not saying that someday I might develop some good ideas, and maybe eventually I’ll have some potential too, but I want to come into all that at my own pace, guided by my own hand. I’m doing my best, and the truth is, I just want to graduate and be left to my own devices. I’ve learned that I’m one of those writers that has to learn by doing, by making a lot of mistakes, by re-inventing the wheel. I’m okay with that. It may take a little longer, but I’m cool with that.
And I’m not “giving up my dreams” when I decide to work full-time while Andy goes to college, because my dream isn’t to be some hot-shot English professor. It isn’t to be some deep literary writer.
I want to write for fun, and maybe someday publish some of it. That’s it. I’m anti-authoritarian enough to dislike people trying to make me feel bad because I’m not following the typical path. I’m prickly, and I like that. The truth is, I’m only an English major because I’ve always been told (and grades have shown) that I’m good at it. I don’t *love* it. I guess, really, I don’t *hate* it either. Ever watched Scrubs? “I *nothing* it.”
I like reading.
I like writing.
And that’s about as much as I’m an “English major.” I do Asian Studies because I love it. I do English because I’m good at it. I joined the English Honors program because all my professors have suggested I do it. I *became* an English major because my professors suggested I do it. Nothing about being an English major for me has actually really come from any inward desire to DO ENGLISH. I’m good at it, and I like being good at it; pompous, yes. I know. But it’s the real reason I do English.
If that’s the case, which I deep down believe it is, then why would I go on to get a graduate degree in English?
This time, I’m not going to do it, just because my professors think I should.
Oh, I’ll post my English Commencement speech sometime once I finish editing it. ^_-