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My history with writing, and majoring in English

Updated on March 31, 2012

Introduction

Back in high school, I had a pretty good idea that if I ever went to college, I would be an English major. It was the subject I excelled at the most in school, and for someone who had significant problems with learning in certain areas, English was a notable exception. Also I knew I had pretty good writing skills, especially compared to most of the other kids I knew. When we had a low-key contest for writing a two page story in 12th grade in my English class, my classmates voted almost unanimously that I had won. It wasn’t that I was particularly good, at least to me. It was that everyone else was so much worse, and this seems typical of students in public schools in general.

Also, from a young age, I had a creative streak and a great imagination. Sometimes, I would sit in my room and daydream my own stories in my head, with their own creative plot twists, often based off of premises from some of my favorite movies. One of my favorite themes was time travel, and I loved the Back to the Future movies and its twists. Often times, I wouldn’t really write down the ideas in my head on paper because I was lazy, but later in life I would. When I was in middle school, after becoming fascinated with horror movies, I would imagine vivid stalk-and-slash scenes in my head while in my room, all from my own imagination. I really wished I had written more of those ideas down, as I seem to have lost the imagination and creative streak I used to have, which is a theme of this article. I’ve given up on writing fiction at this point, but sometimes I wish I still had the drive I used to have for creating imaginative stories. I write nonfiction now, for this site, obviously, and I’m mostly satisfied with my chosen direction, but I do wonder why I lost the passion for fiction and my creative streak has seemed to wither away.

My Fiction Stories

I attempted writing many stories in my early to mid 20’s, and I intended all of the ones I started to be novel length. The problem was, I would get stuck at some point and quit one story, and when inspiration struck again, I would start an entirely new one. Almost none of my stories were ever completed except for one, a sort of horror story I wrote, with the villain based partly on a bully I knew in real life. I finished this, but it wasn’t really novel length, nor short story length, so I knew if I ever wanted it published, I would have to lengthen it out (god forbid if I shortened it out. I‘d hate that). Unfortunately, my computer crashed in my late 20’s years after I had stopped writing the stories, and although I managed to save my work on a disc, I’ve had major problems transferring them to my new computer. I’d like to get them back, but I haven’t attempted retrieving them much after my initial failed attempts.

Most of my stories were based around paranormal and horror/sci-fi type themes. Aliens, time travel, psychic phenomena, premonitions, serial killers, and such. Often, my main character would be a psychic and I had a dream that I would someday publish a series of novels, all involving this character, as he got involved in bizarre paranormal situations.

My chosen favorite fiction genres were horror, and to a lesser extent, science fiction. I’ve also always had fascination with weird paranormal subjects, like psychic phenomena, premonitions, UFO’s, and stuff like that, so that interest is where much of my inspiration for paranormal type-stories came from. I didn’t really plan on publishing any of these stories. It was mainly just for fun.

My college experience

Because my grades in high school were fairly bad, I had to go to a community college first rather than going straight to a four year university, which is what I wanted to do. The community college had no majors that interested me, so I decided to get a general studies degree there and then transfer. My plan was to major in English with a concentration in creative writing when I got there. During my time at the college, though, I developed interests in other academic subjects, such as philosophy, sociology and psychology. I knew my academic interests were broad, but I still planned to go the creative writing route once I transferred.

That’s not quite how it eventually turned out. During my first semester at Salisbury University, I took a creative writing class and was immediately taken aback by the attitude of the teacher, and some aspects of the course. The teacher was a bit harsh, and kind of snobbish when it came to interpretations of her favorite poems, but I eventually grew to like her and realized she mostly just wanted to challenge us. But more importantly, our writing assignments weren’t what I had in mind when I thought of ‘creative’ writing. I was expecting us to be able to write about whatever we wanted with no rules, and I could let my vivid imagination run wild, creating the kind of fantasy worlds I had fantasized about since I was a kid. But the assignments were more strict and narrow. For example, she asked us to write a new version of a poem we had read from a different character’s perspective. Or, when she wanted to challenge us on doing good description (which I admittedly struggled with), she told us to go somewhere and write a description of the place we visited. Boring! Well, to be fair, it wasn’t that bad. Some of the assignments were somewhat fun, and allowed some semblance of creativity. They just weren’t what I had in mind. Plus, the reading assignments were pretty boring. I may have read in my spare time, but I was extraordinarily picky and didn’t really like many of the supposed “classics’ we were assigned to read. I had also heard that many other colleges had creative writing programs that were more open and flexible about writing about what you wanted to, so I was puzzled why my particular college was different in this area. Maybe it was the teacher.

I also realized my ability to describe people in my writing was sorely lacking, and although I become better with practice, I knew it wasn’t something I would ever become that good at. There was a course at the school called nonfiction workshop that I wanted to take, because I thought I would be better at writing that didn’t involve description and was more from my own point of view than the fiction stuff I was doing. There was a concentration in English in our school called Writing and Rhetoric, and I began to seriously contemplate concentrating in that area. I don’t want to be overdramatic, or over-state it, but I think the creative writing courses I took effectively killed my interest in writing fiction to an extent.

With this new found perspective, I took composition III in the fall of 2009, which was a requirement for the “writing and rhetoric’ track, and really enjoyed it. It involved writing opinion papers and analyzing different kinds of arguments, whether on political issues or other things, and learning the best way to make effective arguments and notice logical fallacies in people’s arguments, not to mention the types of appeals they make. For someone like me, who was somewhat opinionated (not in an arrogant sense), and interested in political issues, I became pretty sure I had found my niche, and decided to graduate with a concentration in rhetoric. Also, after receiving advice from my comp. III teacher, I realized that writing and rhetoric was more flexible and created more room for job opportunities than a creative writing degree. As my teacher said, unless I was planning to write the next great American novel (which I had pretty much given up on), a creative writing degree didn’t have much use. A rhetoric degree, however, could be used for writing effective advertising campaigns, grant writing, or becoming a lawyer. I didn’t plan to be a starving artist for the rest of my life, so I realized that a rhetoric degree would be more useful.

I thought about submitting editorials for newspapers after I graduated, but I still haven’t done that after graduating in 2010. The most I have done is write for hub pages. Although having an editorial accepted at a newspaper may give me more street credibility than writing for this site, I guess I’m just a little insecure about attempting it. But part of it is also that I really don’t read newspapers much. I get almost all my news from the internet. Print newspapers are becoming outdated anyway, and I also dislike the idea of an editor telling me how to write. So I’m just sticking with this for now.

Conclusion

So I pretty much gave up on the fiction writing, but sometimes I wish I could somehow revive my interest in it and give it a shot again. But I just don’t have the drive for it anymore. I’m satisfied with the direction I took in my writing, but I do wonder what happened to my creative streak. I rarely daydream up stories anymore, and I don’t find myself preoccupied with fictional movies and books as I used to. Some people say your imagination and creativity tends to disappear once you get older, and I’m 31. I still like entertainment, but I don’t feel nearly as obsessed with it as I used to. When I decided to give up pursuing the creative writing degree and major in writing and rhetoric instead, many people in my life tried to talk me out of it for some reason. Perhaps that’s one reason I wonder what could have been and why I wrote this hub. I’m satisfied with my choice, but I still wonder what happened. But truth be told, I think it was just a matter of my interests changing, or one passion overtaking and taking priority over another. I feel I’m better at nonfiction than fiction, and I also like reading nonfiction books more than fiction (when I was younger, it was the opposite).

Also, I do wish I wrote hubs more frequently, as I tend to write them only when I really have something to say, which leaves room for about two hubs a month, at best. Working with an editor or newspaper would probably give me more structure and motivation to keep writing at a decent pace and not slack off because I don’t feel like writing anything due to laziness or lack of burning inspiration. Also, I still haven’t signed up for the google ad sense account, although I initially tried it and had some trouble with it, possibly the result of my computer screwing up. If I had the possibility of a check coming into the mail due to my writing, I may get more motivated to write for this site again. Oh, well. I’m not quite sure what the point of this hub is supposed to be aside from venting and telling a story. I did start writing an autobiography a few years ago, but in the last year or so, I’ve slacked off on it. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it or ever get it published. But it was very therapeutic, and writing this hub was telling part of a story I already told in my autobiography, albeit in a condensed form. People in general always seem to like stories.


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