The Secret Life of a Baby Literature Scholar
Here are three absurd places I’ve found myself in the past 48 hours.
I don’t think it’s an easy thing to express the absurd places one ends up when really committing oneself to the study of literature or the humanities in general. Regardless of discipline – English is my true love, but this pretty much applies to everything that once stirred with human inspiration and breath – we are all going to end up talking about Big Issues. This was not something I really understood I’d signed up for until quite recently, I guess, when I was hard at work on my latest novel-project and wanted to show my work to a few people. When you’re writing a novel, people are interested in asking a single question – What’s it about? At
“What’s it about?” is the question someone will always like to know when you are writing a novel. And maybe I panicked or something, but somewhere along my stuttering explanation, I attached on a phrase that went something like “and it’s an exploration of counter-masculinities along with all these very real issues, and I didn’t mean it to turn into that, but it did.”
Needless to say, I did not think I’d be here when I first started writing little adventure fics about twelve year olds that form telepathic bonds with woodland creatures, which was (I am willing to bet) one of the first genres I slid into as a child. But it’s something of a responsibility I think we literary analysts (or historical analysts or philosophical analysts or film analysts or whatever you identify as) have, to write about and think about and wonder about those bigger issues. Writing, particularly fiction writing, is a medium where almost anything can go. There’s freedom in that, and there’s opportunity in that, but there’s responsibility there, too. It’s no different from social media, if you think about it, or even just normal conversation, but it’s elevated, because writing is something we can spend a very long time thinking about before publishing.
So let’s talk about my three absurd situations and where they came from.
On the distress of sharing my controversial writings: I’m a writer, and I’m going to write about things that are happening in my world. Even as a fiction writer – wait, even as a fantasy writer – I am fascinated by the world and what’s happening in it and what’s not happening in it. Isn’t that where fiction comes from, trying to fill the gaps in the events we see?
On the random Saturday conversations about life: I’m a writer, and I’m going to encourage the people around me to think about what’s harping at them, too. You don’t have to be a critical thinker of all things literary to say something profound. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of a seminar or the middle of lunch or the middle of the night – we should be eager to share in each other’s little profundities.
On my extremely weird English essay: I’m a writer, and…no, this one’s still absurd. If anyone has any explanations for why Milton decided to describe the ocean as a fertile womb, seriously, let me know, because the jury’s still out on why we do and write the things we do.
Written by Erika S.
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.