Tuesday, December 7, 2010

School's Out Forever?

So, I really have no idea what this blog is. I often post really personal stuff on here, because it is a fairly private space. I have one "follower," to use the blogger-speak (Hi Ashley!), but I don't think of this blog as being read much. Which is cool. But then every so often I'll use it to write something like my last entry, and I'll link it somewhere (facebook, twitter, etc.) which reminds people that the blog exists, so any personal stuff I've thrown out there is not very far away if someone were to just click a few links here and there.

That said, I'm taking a risk. My mom is on facebook now, and this blog is linked both in the website section of my profile and on my wall right now (for "Said the Ocean to the Moon"). So she could very easily come here. If she is here (Hi Mom!), I can't really do anything about it. But I'm going to say something I don't necessarily want her to know.

I really want to quit grad school.

Let me rephrase. I really want to quit my current graduate program (library science) and apply for another program that actually holds some level of interest for me (I'm thinking literature). I'm not ready for a creative writing program yet. But I'm really interested in literature. In fact, I took enough lit courses as an undergrad for it to have been my second minor, only I didn't take a couple of the specific ones they require for majors/minors (like Shakespeare, or American Lit). So far in my library information studies, I've taken 12 hours (or 4 classes). Of those, literally half have been literature courses. Granted, they teach the literature within the context of librarianship (the two courses were Literature for Children and Literature for Young Adults), but it's still the closest thing you'll get to a literature class in this degree. I loved these classes, because for once we were talking about what was inside the covers of books. You have no idea how frustrating it is to sit for 3 hours in a classroom and have to talk about books as objects. I mean, yes, they are physical objects, but they're really portals. They're really other worlds tucked carefully inside a binding. They're characters, setting, plot, theme, words, images, ideas. And to sit there for three semesters' worth of discussions on budget issues within libraries, or the perfect temperature to keep a collection at to best preserve books, or how to catalogue a book.... BORING. So very very horribly ridiculously DULL.

I like working at the library. I like working with kids but not having to take responsibility for them like a teacher or day care worker would have to. I like shelving books, making bookmarks, coming up with displays, helping people find what they need, suggesting books. All that is great.

But I don't love it. I've found a job that suits me, that I'm fairly good at, that comes with this whole level of respect that I'd never anticipated ("You're a librarian? Cool. You must be all smart and stuff."), and it doesn't pay well but it pays enough.... for now. I'm extremely grateful to have this job and won't make the mistake again of quitting a job on a whim. But I'm not going to allow myself to mistake not-hating a job for loving it. I hated working at Borders. I hated working at Target. I hate my cleaning job (but it's easy money, so I won't give it up in a million years!). But I don't hate working at the library. I just don't see myself working there in ten years. I don't see myself there in 5 years, or even 2.

One thing they keep talking about in grad school is how this is a competitive field, how it's all about networking, etc etc. So there's one strike against it, as I kind of hate competition and don't have a networking bone in my body. But the other thing is this idea of working toward a goal, of wanting to achieve something. Nearly every guest speaker in class this semester would ask us to introduce ourselves by giving our name, where we work now, and where we'd like to work within a library system. You'd get answers like, "I'm working in HR at an office job right now, but I'd love to be a reference librarian at an academic library, possibly with an eye for becoming a branch manager one day." Or "I want to get into preservation and archives and possibly work with texts in museums." There was a goal, a plan, a reason they were in this program. Then you'd get to me: "I work part time in the children's department of a public library. And that's pretty much why I started this degree, so I could get a job working in the children's department of a public library." So the underlying idea is: what now?

I understand that this should be a no-brainer. It's a 36 hour degree, and I'm already a third of the way through it. If I get my MLIS, I'll be eligible to work at a library in all fifty states. Due to recent changes, now there are only a few states in which public libraries will hire anybody without an MLIS. So to have one would guarantee me the ability to apply for work at libraries in other states if I ever wanted to in the future. Which is the smart, responsible thing to do. Nevermind that if I keep up at my current rate, I won't graduate until December of 2012 (Classes are only offered evenings Monday - Thursday, and I work evenings Tuesday - Thursday, so I'm limited to whatever's offered Monday nights or whatever I can get online. Argh.)

My parents have been ridiculously kind. Realizing that school can be expensive, they've allowed me to move back into the house without paying rent for as long as I'm taking grad courses. Which is seriously wonderful of them. And which is also part of what's making this decision so very hard.

You know what I want to do? I want to write books. Like, get my act together and actually write good stuff, stuff that I can send away to agents and editors. I want to get paid to sit in my pajamas all day clacking away at a keyboard and filling empty pages with words and worlds. I want to put the stuff between the covers of the books that librarians learn how to treat like objects.

So I have this devious little idea at the back of my mind, which is where the whole risk-of-being-discovered part comes in. My idea centers around a lie. Lie and say I've enrolled in an online course without really doing so. Lock my door and slave away at my computer for several hours doing what my parents and friends think is classwork, when really it's me trying to write this thing.

But it's a risk. At the end of four months, I might have something presentable. Or I may have another NaNoWriMo mess on my hands. (Seriously, I was all happy because I finally made the wordcount, but in terms of stuff I'll actually use in something someday, I think other than "and," "but," "to," "for," "the," etc. the grand total is something like 3.4%. Seriously. It sucked majorly. Not in an I'm-trying-to-be-modest way. In an even-the-trash-can-I-use-to-throw-this-away-in-will-be-grossed-out-by-the-suckiness-of-it-all kind of way.) So if I have something, I mail it off and cross my fingers and hope that by this time a year or two from now I'll be on my way to being a published author. But if I just end up with another mess, then the gamble was in vain and I have to 'fess up that I've put myself a whole semester behind for nothing.

You know, somewhere in the world there are people who have actual problems. Who don't have enough to eat, or who fear for their lives, or who don't have basic freedoms to believe and act as they see is right. And then there's me, a whiny little brat who is bored, confused, and unsatisfied even though she has a perfectly great life.

I'm sorry.

Shutting up now.


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