Those familiar with the hilariously-inappropriate Sesame Street spoof Avenue Q will have heard the song, "What do You do with a BA in English?"
"Four years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree," the song laments. "I can't pay the bills yet, 'cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big, scary place."
If I weren't facing the same predicament, I may find the song funny.
I racked my mind about it for months, but finally did what I said I'd never do: I registered for nursing classes. I'm still not convinced I want to commit to them, but the deciding factor was a practical one: I figure, if things aren't looking up for me and my English degree, I can transfer to a nursing school after graduation.
But it doesn't feel right. I always wanted to be involved with literature. To read, to write, to speak, to critique - that's what I always saw for myself.
As a kid, I never wanted toys. I wanted books instead. I grew up down the street from the public library and spent most of my childhood bopping back and forth between that and home, reading whatever interested me. I wanted to write; I wanted to illustrate. I even won a few young authors awards back in the day.
But to be honest, I don't actually write very much. Yes, I update this blog pretty often, and my school assignments turn out well, but when it comes to actual creative writing, I have very little to show for myself. For someone who's always professed the desire to write, I'm starting to get a little nervous.
So far, my translation projects have yielded just a few, short pieces of poetry, and I never find myself coming up with great ideas for vignettes and short stories. Maybe I need to reassess the kind of writing I want to do, since I seem to do better with nonfiction-type pieces and essays. In any case, if I don't produce soon, I feel it won't be long before the Reality Police come knocking on my door to demand, "Show me the writing!" Perhaps if I were friends with other literary types we could swap drafts and force each other to write. That way I won't feel like I'm groping through a void.
My mother was so relieved when I signed up for the pre-nursing track. It's what I was "supposed" to do from the beginning. She's even started speaking of nursing school as the goal instead of as the back-up. I cannot tell you how much I resent this.
My attachment to literature has been so deeply-felt, and for so long, that to dishonor the attraction by doing something else just feels wrong. It feels like I'm throwing away a natural interest and aptitude, and stifling a part of myself.
Only one thing to do: get creative. I won't end up doing nursing, not without a fight.