Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Revelations at 2 AM

It's 2 a.m. and I am awakened by the involuntary conjugating of Spanish verbs in my head.

hice, hiciste, hicio, hicamos...

I wish I could say the conjugations were correct, but at 2 a.m. it's hard to tell. It's really more of a mixture of stems and roots floating around up there. Also, at 2 a.m. it is difficult to make your verb tenses agree, even in English, hence the reason I used the present tense in the first sentence above and the past tense in the third.

But enough about grammar. I can't sleep. It could be the spontaneous conjugation. It could be the three cups of coffee and a Diet Dr. Pepper I had yesterday. Or it could be this looming, pressing need I feel to make a plan for my life.

Yeah, maybe that.

In a year, give or take, I will have completed my BA in Creative Writing that I began four years ago. Four years I've been doing this. Four years I've been writing research papers while cooking dinner. Four years I've been getting up early, before the kids wake up, to read material that sometimes makes me want to go back to bed. Four years I've been taking an hour bus ride to sit in classes with young adults who make me feel wise and ignorant all at once. And when it's all said and done, the grand total will be five years.

Then what?

Then I will return to my life as a stay-at-home mom and write a wildly successful novel, along with an uber-popular blog that will skyrocket me to the top of the literary ladder, followed by a book of short stories, and maybe even a poem or two, just to keep me creatively sharp. And this will be achieved while getting all those things done around the house that I never had time to do before because of school, of course.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Except, how many wildly successful novelists do you know? I mean, personally know. Like, have them programmed into the list of contacts in your phone.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

See, I have professors who have published several books. My Poetry Writing teacher is a nationally recognized poet. One of her books won the National Book Award. Just to give you a point of reference, other NBA winners include Alice Walker, Eudora Welty and Cormac McCarthy. So, I'm not talking about total schleps and wannabes here. These people have at least some measure of talent and ability. Yet they also have "day jobs", because unfortunately, talent don't pay the bills.

The truth is, even some of the most renowned literary geniuses in the world never knew success in their lifetime. The pinnacle of their careers was reached posthumously.

Emily Dickinson
Zora Neale Hurston
Jane Austen
Sylvia Plath
Ralph Ellison

People, Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life.


Which I know he was a painter, not a writer, but it's all art, so stay with me.

I could be the most gifted writer to ever walk the face of this planet, but reality is telling me I might be wise to leave myself some options. Especially if I am having trouble getting my verb tenses correct.

So, I've been thinking about how very much I love my Literature classes. What other class can you take where your main course of study is to read stories? Seriously, I read my anthologies for fun. I'm a total nerd. And then we get to talk about them in class and my professors have to shut me down in order to give others a chance to talk.

Reading and monopolizing conversation - two of my favorite pastimes.

What if I could put those two together to make some sort of a dream job that would actually guarantee me a paycheck while I did the writing gig on the side?

Wait a minute...isn't that what my professors are doing?

Well, Supermom, yes, it is. However did you come to such a stupendously intelligent and observant conclusion?

I'm just smart like that, you know. And rather than let all that smartness go to waste, I thought perhaps I should share it with the future of our great nation. I should impart my wealth of literary insight unto the young people of the world...or at least the metro area.

I should teach.

Well, I've spent the entire four years of my college career answering conversations just like the one below:

Them: What is your major?
Me: English.
Them: So you want to teach?

And now I find myself not only refuting my own objections, but looking at another 4-5 years of school for a Master's Degree, and yes, even a Doctorate.

I don't understand how it came to be like this, but at 36 years old, I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

A Literature Professor.

And really, doesn't it just make perfect sense? Why didn't I think of it before?

Dr. Supermom. I can see it now...just like the picture above. I will be a saintly patron of wisdom and enlightenment, leading thirsty young minds to the fountain of knowledge, where they will drink happily and heartily.

Yeah, right. Probably more like this:

So, the requirements for a doctorate in Literature?

  1. 60 hours, including 18-20 dissertation hours. That's not so bad. I can do that in two years. Two and a half, at the most.

  2. PhD exams in two subject areas. Okay.

  3. Write and defend a dissertation. Yeah, I knew that would be in there.

  4. Mastery of a foreign language. Well, crap.
Four to five more years of conjugating Spanish verbs in my sleep.

Sleep. I never really liked it anyway.


Travis said...

I don't write to be famous, and I don't write to be a popular blogger, although those both would be nice.

I write because I have so much bottled inside, and writing is the only way I can let it out that makes any sense at all.

I am proud of you for finally realizing what you want to do! I want to teach English as well, but I'll probably stick to high school for a while. :)

Anything you write, I'll be the biggest fan of.

SuperMom said...

Travis, I love you and your support means the world to me :-)

However, while I agree, writing to be famous is useless, I would be lying if I said I never hope to make any money at it. And in order to make money at it, there is some recognition required.

And if I remember correctly, you do a certain amount of rejoicing and/or lamenting at the number of followers you have or lose, right? And didn't you just recently have some sort of post about voting your blog to be number one somewhere?

Come on. Let's be honest. With any kind of art, if you want to be successful with it, you need to be recognized.

I will probably never be famous. All that talk is really tongue in cheek. Fame is not what drives me. Doing what I love does.

Thank you so much for your encouragement, your honesty, and for being you for the whole world to see. It is a refreshing thing in a world where people are so busy hiding.

And I think you will make an EXCELLENT teacher. I would even put my kids in your class ;-)

SuperMom said...

BTW - You ended your last sentence with a preposition. Geez.

Catherine Denton said...

Those students will be so LUCKY to sit under your hilarious wisdom. You will make an awesome professor. And if anyone can do all those years of school, Supermom can!

However my dearest, bestest friend, ahem, on the published part...I will have to disagree with you (you knew this was coming). While it's true that most authors will not become millionaires by writing or even get the longed-for awards; many make their living at it. And yes, I KNOW them. Well, not like I know you but they would recognize me in a room of crowded people.

Call me overly-optimistic, hopeful or delusional but I believe it CAN happen. For now, I'm just working hard to create a story that I love. But I want (hope and pray) for it to be published, make money and perhaps launch a career. Not of huge fame or fortune but of a simple living doing what I enjoy most.

P.S. Sorry to have hijacked your comments.

P.S.S. So happy to have another post to read!

SuperMom said...

Yes, Cathy, you are right. You don't have to be famous to be successful. Maybe I should clarify. Recognition does not equal fame. If those authors are published and are making a living doing it, then they have had some recognition. Otherwise, they wouldn't be published. Perhaps what I equate with recognition has more to do with an established career of writing rather than awards, etc.

So, you're telling me that the people you know are only writing and don't have other jobs or sources of income to help pay the bills?

Catherine Denton said...

Writing is they're only income.

SuperMom said...

So, anyway, I think what I was saying is that even very great writers DIDN'T have a lot of fame, certainly not in their lifetime. And they didn't make a good living of it. Most writers don't.

So...I'm looking for a way to make a living.

Not become famous.

I was only kidding about that part.

So, am I off the hook yet? :-)

Catherine Denton said...

Opps! their

Catherine Denton said...

LOL You weren't in trouble. And I'm happy for you!

SuperMom said...

Yeah, but they're in your writer's group. Of course you will meet writers there ;-)

Just sayin'...I want a backup plan.

SuperMom said...

Okay, now we're overlapping comments and they're out of order.

Good grief.

But, way to rack up the comments on my post ;-)

Catherine Denton said...

I do what I can. :)