For the past few days I have been contemplating what path I want to pursue for graduate studies. I’ve always enjoyed studying, reading, and learning about new things, and continuing my studies after my bachelors seems like an obvious decision.
Yet, I’ve started to become conscious of being driven by a desire for a certain ‘academic status’. I’ve always wanted a PhD since the day I learned what a PhD is. I always wanted to achieve the very best when it came to schooling. Why? What exactly is the very best? Why do a PhD just for the sake of doing a PhD? That won’t get me where I really want to go. Is it a distraction?
My literature classes make me weary. I’m often interested, but in some of my classes there is a lack of fascination–a disconnect between what INSPIRES literature and the study of it. I am interested in the inspiration of things. I am interested in the humanness within words, literature, and stories. I care more about how a story makes me feel, how brilliantly imagined it is, what kind of inspiration is behind it, and simply the story itself in its entirety. The more I study literature the more I feel I that I don’t want to dissect everything I read and analyze its symbols and recurring motifs and the contextualize it according to the literary theories of the time. I want to see the piece as a WHOLE, and I want to discuss it in a simpler way–like I would if I were a child. Somehow cutting it up makes it less beautiful.
I don’t feel this way in my creative writing classes. I feel happy. Excited. Thrilled. And always leave inspired.
I want to write.
I feel that for a very large percentage of my life I have been waiting for the right moment to write, for the moment I can safely say “now there is nothing left for me to do, but to finally just write.” I am aware that moment may never come. There never will be a moment when I have nothing else to do.
George Orwell wrote a fantastic essay titled “Why I Write”. Here’s a quote:
From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.
I am waiting for the moment I can finally settle down and write books. I am aware I have to make that moment. I seem to create distractions for myself. Even while being in the creative writing program, I have taken on so many classes for English honours, that I spend less time doing what I love doing the most. I give myself the message that if I enjoy what I do then it is not of value. I must take on work that I enjoy less, because it is of more value if it’s more difficult. Which is ridiculous. I need to change this.
Writing needs to become my number 1 priority. Not graduate studies. Not a PhD. I need to be singleminded. Everything else comes after.
I end with a beautiful quote from my favourite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke:
Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.