Tuesday, October 6

Writing vs. School Throwdown

Posted by Shelly Holder

I've been ruminating on the nature of school, and my purpose in being a student. I'm spending four years of my life (or 8, or 10, or more, depending on if I want to go on to a graduate or doctorate program) in college, not to mention the 13 years of primary education. And when I get out of college, then what?
I suppose I'm hitting that famous point where all English majors realize that life after grad school is full of the same uncertainty - career wise at least- as if I had never gone to school at all. But even more fundamental than that, I realize that my academic career is probably not worth anything to anyone outside academics. But I care, or least I should, if I wasn't certain that I could be spending my time much more wisely by working on a book or other publication. Will some prospective employer interrogate me about that pop quiz I failed? No. Will anyone care about the term paper I got a B on? No. But will they care that I've published two books and been included in multiple anthologies? Infinitely yes. So why am I not spending more time on writing?
I don't know. I really have no answer to that question- I was throwing it out into the far-spread cosmos of cyberspace.
I want to do well in school. I do. But time is a limited commodity, and some things just have to be selectively neglected. I don't like selectively neglecting my homework, but I dislike my "aspiring author" status more.
This week has unfortunately emphasized this concern. Several professors have spoken about authors -famous ones- that never made it past a few years of primary education (think Shakespeare, most famously.) Did it matter that he didn't have a formal education? No. Do you think he was any less intelligent? No. Do you think he had a diminished level of genius? No. Do you think it negatively affected his work in anyway? No. The pretentious snobs that criticized his "ignorance" sat back and analyzed his work, while he was actually out there writing the plays. We remember Shakespeare; we don't have the names of the other men.
Who do YOU want to be?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
I wanna be Shakespeare. I don't wanna be an arm-chair literary critic. I have joked about being a professor, but I don't think in the end that I would honestly want to become one, because I know myself. I would sink into reading and writing about reading... but I would never write. It would be a different sort of creativity, not lessened, just different. Which I love equally ... in a different way.
So why I am learning to write academically?

I think there might have to be a serious change in my class schedule next semester.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: The recitations of the ESL class I tutor for.
What I want most: Fall break. Ohmygoodness, fall break. I can't wait.


PetePedia said...

I saw your blog on the discussion and thought it sounded interesting because, while I am not a young author, I am becoming a new author. I started a blog and put an essay on it that I had composed for my English comp 1 class as a starting point. Boy did that get my writer's juices flowing. If you'd like to check out my blog, it's:


I will be following your blog.