When I meet new people — which is not often, thank Christ — one of the first questions that comes up is “What are you studying?”
“Writing,” I tell them.
Ninety percent of reactions usually fall between disgust or sorrow. “Why would you want to do that?” or “Oh, God. I’m so sorry.”
I wonder whether they are sorry about the amount of writing I do or about my lack of potential job security. Probably both.
But the other 10 percent ask, “Why are you a writing major?”
This editorial will be my attempt to describe the circumstances that led to me becoming a writing major and finally answer that question convincingly — something I have thus far failed to do.
I started out at Hesston College in Kansas as a music education major with the goal of teaching high school band. I was inspired by my own high school band teacher’s love of music, and I wanted to pass it on to other students.
My love of music quickly turned to a begrudging tolerance of music and by the end of the first semester of college, I had dropped the education part of my major simply because I did not know what else to do. I remained a music major for two semesters, biding my time and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I took calculus, chemistry, astronomy — anything I could get my hands on.
With the winter of 2015 came “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” I loved the film so much that I wrote my first review on it. With nowhere else to publish it, I turned to the Hesston College Horizon, where I worked for my final semester at Hesston as a feature writer focusing on movie reviews.
While there, I became fascinated with journalism. I applied to EMU as a double major in communications and writing with double minors in journalism and digital communications. I dropped my communications major after a discussion with the always-helpful David Detrow, who told me that it would be impossible to graduate on time — or even a semester late — with my current range of study.
I came to EMU with the intention of working at The Weather Vane, not knowing that within one year I would be put in charge. I am responsible not only for my own writing, but also for helping others with theirs. Me — a writing major who has only been a writing major for less than a year. I feel at the same time overwhelmed by the responsibility and grateful for a group of friends and teachers who have taught me the ropes.
But the question still gnaws at my brain — why am I a writing major?
Is it that I like writing? No. Definitely not. I loathe the process of writing with my entire being. To quote Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing. I love having written.”
But that makes the question even more complicated. Why am I a writing major if I hate writing?
I think it may be because I have no other outlet I am even remotely good at. I cannot paint or draw. I am not that good of a musician, despite having been a music major for two years. I am terrible at talking to people. I can play video games and watch TV incredibly well, but where can I express myself in that, aside from the occasional hateful rant after having died trying to clear the same dungeon for the fourth time?
The only thing left — for me at least, I am sure that I have missed other outlets — is writing.
That is why I write. I write because I have the need to express myself, just like any other human. I have stories to tell.
So why, dear reader, should you care? You probably should not. But take this editorial as an opportunity to wax philosophical and think about why you do what you do. It is important to find a reason. Maybe it is an easy answer. Maybe it is not. The important thing is to know.