English majors grapple with the “where will this take me?” question on a daily basis. It looms over us when we’re six hours into a critical essay, when we’re holed up in our rooms instead of outside with our friends because we have a poem in our heads that just has to be written, or when we’re making small talk with nosy distant relatives at family reunions. I find that the “problem” (and I use that term loosely, the reason for which I will get to in a second) is just how many places an English degree can take us. How do we decide which path to take? What if we want to follow more than one? Of course, the number of directions we can go with our degrees can also be seen as a blessing, because we have the freedom to choose from so many unique fields knowing that we’re prepared for practically anything our careers will throw at us. I think the French phrase “avoir l’embarras du choix”–to be spoiled by how many choices one has–perfectly captures how I feel when I consider my future after Geneseo.
Anyway, the point of this post was to talk about how much my future plans have changed (because of feeling I have so many options), but also how I’ve now come back to a field I had previously considered–publishing. I originally considered getting into editing/publishing because I (wrongly) believed it was just correcting spelling and grammar in things people write, something that I think has always come naturally to me. Now I know that’s what copyediting is, and that editors do something much different. I learned a lot about editing and publishing as part of the Gandy Dancer class this past spring, and even more just last night at the publishing Q&A Rachel Hall organized with an author and her editor. Although by the end of last semester I wasn’t sure I have what it takes to work in publishing, I’ve been reconsidering it the past few days. The problem was that before, I didn’t really have a reason for wanting to work in publishing besides that I didn’t know what else to do with an English degree, since I don’t want to teach (unless it’s at the college level, but that’s another dream I’m not so confident about). But recently I realized one of the things I love the most about being an English major–reading my peers’ creative work. I LOVE workshopping peers’ poetry, whether written by all of you 🙂 , written by people in my Foundations class last fall, or submitted to Gandy Dancer last semester. I almost enjoy reading stuff my fellow undergrads write more than reading an established poet’s published collection… Now, this realization is making me lean towards editing perhaps for a college literary journal or a small press, which is great because it means I don’t necessarily have to “make it” in a big competitive publishing house in a big city–good news since I have yet to find my inner Carrie Bradshaw. I would be much more comfortable somewhere smaller. I just really enjoy reading young writers’ work; there’s something so inspiring about poets still finding their voices, writing stuff that blows me away while I know they’ll only get better from here because they’re still young and so full of potential.
So, there’s my recurring English major rant. Tune in next week for “I’ve Decided to Join the Circus After All” (let’s hope not).