1:03 PM

Confession: I live my life in fear of English Majors

Since I was little, I loved to write. I was always coming up with stories and, yes, even illustrating them. I wrote my first "novel" in a Marble composition book in middle school, and it was an awful bit of fan-fiction that had me and two friends in the Ronin Warrior team. I'm sure that this abomination is stored somewhere in the things that I left at my Mom's place when I moved down to college, waiting to come back and haunt me with the awfulness that was a 6th or 7th grade writer.

But, even though I've loved to write and draw my whole life, it was the drawing that I went to school for. Specifically, animation, because it combined my love of writing stories with my love of drawing. The novel that I just finished and that is being released in nine short days was originally going to be a script for an animated series that I was going to make (and I still would love to have it animated, too!), but since I didn't know how to write a cartoon script in late high school, I did what I already knew. I wrote a book, and I illustrated it.

Now, 10 years later, after having the story go through countless changes and switching from a bi-weekly chapter-at-a-time release on my website, I've stood up and said to the world, "I'm a professional writer! You should buy this novel!" Yet I've spent my life in fear of those that have studied writing and books academically, and it's time to confess.

I feel inferior to those who have a degree in English. I feel like, since the piece of paper that I have says "Fine Art" and not "English", that I shouldn't be trying to write professionally. I mean, didn't I discover while editing that I use far too many commas and adverbs? Didn't I discover that I often had "word flab" and had to figure out a less complicated way to say something? Didn't I overlook a bunch of things that my beta-reader pointed out that I should have thought of? Wouldn't an English Major have caught those things?

And this fear of those who have studied also stems from something more than irrational fear and feeling inadequate. Nearly every person I have known in my whole life that either graduated or spent some time being an English major and read my writing, hated it. Handed me stories back with red pen marks over it when I hadn't asked for critique or just plain told me I sucked to my face. When I realized this pattern, it turned in to an irrational fear that I've had for years.

But the past few months have had me feeling a little differently now. I've had people ask me for writing advice for their 7 year old children. I've had people call me a professional writer. I've had people have long talks to me about my book and about their books, about how to finish a book, about getting ideas, about where to publish... Each new question has made me think really hard about what I do when I'm writing, and each one has also made me think "Why are they asking me this? I'm not someone that's qualified to hand out advice!"

In the past week, however, I've been doing a lot of thinking. Yes, I am qualified to give that advice. I'm even thinking about starting up a podcast with writing advice. I have a name for it and a list of topics that I want to cover too. I love writing, and I love to give people that spark that makes them want to write. I've infected a lot of people over the past 10 years with writing fever, and it's always something that I smile about. I want to share that love of writing, the thrill of it, with the world. People are asking me questions not because I'm trained in a classroom, but because I've got the practical experience that comes with actually writing!

I'm glad to say that, as of now, I'm done being scared of English Majors. There's going to be people out there that don't like what I do, and they'll say I suck. But I got my mother-in-law to read and enjoy a story that was originally going to be for anime-loving teens, and I think that's a damn good accomplishment.

I might not have one piece of paper with "Major of English" on it, but I have 350 pages of a novel that says, yes, I am a professional now! So look out, world!


Devin Blake said...

I thought about going back to college to major in English... Then I saw what was needed for the degree. It's nothing more than reading, reading, and more reading. The major that seems to focus more on the technical side of grammar is Journalism. It's expected by college professors that the student already has an understanding of grammar. (Thus all of our English classes from Elementary to high school.)

People will have their own opinions regardless of the author's credentials. I'm still trying to get over my fear of this. A good example is the author Cormac McCarthy. They have excerpts of his books at Amazon. I tried reading through them, but his style of writing is awkward. On the other hand, he is celebrated as one of the greatest American authors.

In other news, I need to get some money gathered up to buy your book. :D

Anonymous said...

Go to grad school and study Enlish!