In fifth grade, a sweet girl from school bought me the first book I’ve ever been somewhat excited about: Twilight. We were in the same reading class together; the class that struggled to read fast enough for standardized regulations. Our reading tests only consisted of reading as many words as we could before the timer stopped.
By the end of my fifth-grade year, I finished the Twilight series and tripled my reading word count. I felt relief knowing I could go into middle school in the regular reading class. The stigma that comes with inadequacy to perform at standardized levels can harm any child’s ego, scarring their confidence. And we all know what they say about scars… cliché fade cliché permanent.
Once I excelled in English, I began to dwindle in math. In fifth grade, they placed a test in front of me with symbols I had never seen in my life. They put letters in mathematical equations! The flame of distain for anything math related was lit, and it burned well into college.
So, why English? It began the summer before sixth grade. I was treading the unknown path many of us are often pushed along as our bodies and minds irreversibly change. I was questioning everything once middle school began. Depression hit me like a Canadian goose receiving a mid-September Pennsylvanian welcoming. It was like that massive honker fell on my head and kept me pinned for a solid three years.
While I still had the spark of prepubescent wonder and enthusiasm, I decided I could write novels. Stephanie Meyers could do it, and there’s millions of books, so why can’t I? I thank my lucky stars that idea came to mind before the inspirational soul was sucked out of me. I believe writing kept me going, gave me purpose, and stabalized my life.
My first work was a novella, about seventy pages long. Think Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, or Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men but insert werewolves and eliminate all intellectual meaning, decent dialogue, and quality scenes. It’s hilarious to think of a fifth grader writing a romance (steamy handholds and enough drama to gag on), but that was all I connected with.
As a child, I played with stuffed animals and gave them all spouses and children. I’d blow on dandelions for someone special for me every spring. Wishing for my very own mate.
I created a series of six books revolving around the werewolves, and each book gained about thirty pages or more. Then I moved from werewolves to gods, Mexican gangs, fairies, ghosts, angels, WWII, elves, dragons, mermaids, and the Civil War. Many times, I wrote series but only if I really loved the characters.
So why English? Literature connects humans from all eras. Literature helps us expand our empathic capabilities. Literature is everywhere (yes, even our movies and TV shows are WRITTEN *gasp*). I’m certain you knew that, but I never think about screenwriting until a horribly written show comes on my screen that makes me miss the good writers.
I didn’t choose English because I’m impeccable with grammar (forgive me I’m an imperfect human), but I do love to workout my grammatical muscles. I didn’t choose to major in English to be a teacher, so please don’t ask every English major you meet if that’s what they want to do. Also, if you could at least pretend that we have a chance to do something in the workforce, then that’d at least help us keep morale for when the real-world hits.
Thanks from an English major