Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Music, Pencils and English

I'm getting the impression that everyone thinks I'm all about Pop music. I guess I talk about Britney Spears too much. Let me just go on the record and say that Pop and Dance music, together, makes up about 1/6 of my music collection. I just checked. I've got 3 times as much Rock and Metal. I just don't want you guys thinking I don't rock out, just because I claim MJ as "the best there ever was." I've also taken the liberty of posting some videos from some of my favorite rock bands.

So, I walked back from class the other day without my glasses. It was such a beautiful day. I walked past the intramural field and just stopped. I really hate that my lenses are "transitions" (meaning they tint in the sun). On a nice, sunny day I have to either walk around with tinted lenses or impaired vision. I can't enjoy the sunlight.

I think I may finally be convinced to get contacts...

The other day, I forgot my pencil on test day (blasted bubble sheets!). I had to borrow a pencil, which I hate to do. I'm afraid I won't finish my test before the person I borrowed the pencil from. I hate to borrow a pencil and have the person leave before I can return it. For one, it sucks for them to hand over a pencil, knowing they will probably never see it again. Also, last time, it took me over a week to find the person I borrowed the pencil from. I could hardly remember what she looked like...

But this time I completed my test first. So there! Returned to sendah!

I am a very imperfect person.

Why must I say "very?" Because even "almost perfect" could be considered "imperfect." I wanna make sure I emphasize that "perfect" and "Christopher" are very far apart.

We all have problems. We all make mistakes. We all, from time to time, base our actions and reaction out of emotion instead of rational thought. I am no different, and I have recently been reminded on that. I let my emotions get the best of me, and I wasn't even aware of it. I said some cold words and had some even colder thoughts.

I let some things get to me that shouldn't get to me. I got upset at some things that shouldn't have upset me.

I got angry.

I don't do "angry" much.

Captain Kirk is the man!

So, last week, I started the foot work to change my major from Business to English. It's something I had been talking with my parents about since summer. They never liked the idea. They said I was so far in my college education, that I would be better off getting my Business degree, then studying English after. I wasn't down with that.

My adviser and I went over the changes that would be necessary. I learned that if I were to choose Business for my minor, the entire major change would require only 9 credit hours more than my current track! So we started looking at the classes required for English majors...


I mean that in all honesty. I don't need, or even want, half of the classes English majors are required to take. And even if I did learn everything I wanted to know, I'd have to find a solid career in English while I worked on getting something published. English degrees are pretty much worthless, unless you want to teach. I quickly realized that majoring in English would be a waste of my time...

Here's where I'm at: I just want to write. I want to create. When I write fiction, people like it. But I never like it. People tell me it's great, but when I'm writing, I feel like I'm operating on a lower level - like I'm working with inferior storytelling skills. I look at the way I word things and they just don't wow me. I don't feel like I paint vivid pictures.

I would love to make a living writing - if I could write what I wanted. Writing in a business setting is downright torturous. I'm using my talent for someone else's profit, like a circus performer. I can't do that for a living.

I'm going to better myself. I will become a better writer. But I'm going to do it my own way. Not by studying 400-year-old books, not through grades and tests. I will not be "classically trained." I'm going to do this myself. I'll study the books I think will help me. I'll make my own writing exercises.

Is that arrogant? Most likely. But I have to do what's right for me. After all, no ones knows what I've got in my head or how I want to present it. It won't be the way Shakespeare did it. It won't be the way Charles Dickens did it. It won't be the way C.S. Lewis did it.

So I'll keep my major. I'll study business. I'll get a job in the "real world." But I will also spend plenty of time in my worlds, the worlds I create, in hope that one day I can share them with the world.


squizzi said...

You know what they say about people that hold in there anger and just say things on the inside but never do anything on the outside.

One day, one day, they just BLOW UP - they go crazy and they either tackle there best friend and punch his face into a pancake or do something radical enough to be called radical. Maybe you should come paintballing with me to dismantle your angry streaks. K.

squizzi said...

Additional Info:
Plus, I don't think you honestly realize that Business majors and English majors are so alike its ridiculous. Stay with your Business major since your so far down the road like you said. You crazy man - its like me. I want to do Graphic Design but I've decided to get a Bachelor in Science before I go to Grad school to study Design. Do you know what most people with English majors do/end up? Business jobs, like marketing and sales. Wait.. aren't you majoring in business..

Yeah. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Chris, as for studying the so called "classics" of literature to become a writer, I somewhat agree with you, and I somewhat disagree.
Here is where I disagree (I mentioned this once before, but I was less than eloquent, and I dont think I got my point across effectively.) Literature, throughout history, is a conversation between authors, they reference, borrow, and sometimes steal from other authors. every author that can be considered in some way great has those authors that have influenced them in some small way. It is easiest for me to compare it to music and to movies; most of the greatest musicians who have ever lived were, and are, influenced by other musicians. In films, the influences are often very blatent, I'm sure you can think of atleast a dozen instances off the top of you head. these music, film amd literary references can be large and small... thematic, stylistic, or a simple passing omage. This comment is becomming a bit more verbose than I had hoped, but all of this is to say, these classes that force you to read the classics, (shakespear, dickens, lewis, homer, etc.) do so to expose you to the writers who have, and continue to influence the writers who are probably going to influence you. to put it another way, almost every love story ever written is in some small way influenced by "Romeo and Juliet"; the character archetypes presented in that story are manipulated in an infinite number of ways to form the love stories that are so ubiquitous today. nearly all stories with a tragic hero can trace their roots to Hamlet, and the list goes on. these dull "classics" classes arent there to put you to sleep, although the do a fair job of it, they are there to expose you to the works that made an impact on the writers who have impacted you. I'm done, I'm off my soap box.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda agree with definitelykyle. I will also add that if you want to do it YOUR own way... you may want to know the way others did it so as not to duplicate THEIR way.

Anonymous said...

I don't think shakespear took college courses to become a great writer. I think he did it his way in all of his works. And about making sure you don't duplicate someone elses work, that is almost impossible if your ideas are unique. I think it is those that take these classes and duplicate the new Romeo and Juliets and Hamlets that fail because it has already been done. Be original Chris, no one wants to read the same story but with a different title.

squizzi said...

Specifically targeting Romeo and Juliet and comparing it to every love story created after it is remarkably odd. By saying that every romantic author in the periods after Shakespeare was influenced by his work someway points to the fact that Shakespeare himself must have been influenced by someone in his time frame to create such a romantic play as Romeo and Juliet - or possibly, it was not even influenced, but rather based on an experience or dream of his own.

Honestly, what I am hinting at, is that choosing to not study the classics may be detrimental to the authors writing style, if they were even attempting to write like or write a novel, play, etc - like the author they had been influenced by.

I understand the objective of the classes - to brew the minds of the young writers who are choosing to pursue a career in the subject, but sometimes, can't a subject that is so boring and mundane be considered a turn off to a subject.

Take for example my absolute dislike of physics. I simply hate physics because I find it to be repetitive plugging in of calculations and basic algebra. But physics is much more then that, just at the basic levels I learn these calculations and these simple problems - but if I really wanted to pursue physics why can't I be wowed by the amazing moments of physics - why must I be punished with these boring moments.

My analogy may be confusing, so I'll lay it out. Even though the classics are the "so called" fundamentals of writing, they can be taken as good or bad by the authors after them. How many people do you think are influenced by JK Rowlings fantastic Harry Potter series or Dan Browns "Da Vinci Code" ; thousands. Like you said it before - if all of these stories REALLY ARE influenced by the classics, then by reading even modern fiction, can't readers grasp all they need to be influenced by to do there own writing?

I know I jumped around a bit - it's late, my mind kind of ran off on a few different points. I apologize.

squizzi said...

I wanted to add this, the main point of my argument summed up in one sentence is:

"You don't have to read the classics to be a great writer."

Chris said...

Frankly, I think definitelykyle's post embodies the kind of thinking I wish to avoid: that certain authors deserve to be read, simply because other people cared, way back when.

I agree that every author is influenced by authors before them. Obviously - writers read. I even agree that influences could be traced, from writer to writer, centuries back to authors like Shakespeare.

The question in this: Is it necessary to go all the way back?

That entire comment supports squizzi's notion that these influences carry themselves through generations, and offers no real reason why one should backtrack.

Sure. Maybe Shakespeare or Homer influenced people that influenced people that ended up influencing Isaac Asimov. But I couldn't care any less than I currently do. And why should I? I'll still enjoy my Isaac Asimov books.

If you're going to compare it to music, you have to consider today's generation of kids jamming in their garage, rockin' underground shows. They end up signed by major labels, making music that the world hears. They end up influencing the world, but they didn't all grow up listening to Beethoven.

My point is this: We get the same old books forced down our throats, generation after generation. We're taught "These books are great. They changed the world. Every kid in America must read them." So what if the writings are so dated, even the English ones need to be translated? So what if the kids have to use Spark Notes just to answer questions on the plot? As long as they read the greatest books in history, surely they'll learn from them!

Yes, yes. Writers influence each other. But that's no reason why I should treat a 400-year-old book or some 50-year-old album with some exceptionally high level of reverence or respect. And I most certainly don't need to study them.

After all, the "influential" ones are the innovators.