One thing I’ve never much wanted to be is an editor. Whenever I edit someone else’s work I get the burning urge to set the thing on fire and run back to my own writing. Being one not entirely out of touch with reality, I realize this is not an appropriate course, so usually, I try to supplant my dual demanding senses of creative desire and want for escape from the task by renewing my vigor in diligently critiquing the work at hand. That is to say, it’s like stretching. When one has a cramp he should tense the muscle, force away the desire to give up the stretch by doubling down on it. Run an extra mile when he his jogging feet grow weary. Shift the– <trite image analogy (37b) not found>.
I don’t like editing other people’s work, but it’s a means to have my own read. As such, it becomes a necessary currency. The better criticism I give and the more helpful I am to the authors whose work sits on my desk, the more I hope I can expect of their critiques of mine. However, in editing my school’s literary journal, I’m coming to think of that currency as something akin to Itchy and Scratchy Land Money. I’m selecting and thinking and investing in the creation of as good a journal as I can make from what materials I’ve got, but I’m not included on the writer side of this. There’s no pro quo to my quid.
I care about my job, I take the task of editing very seriously, but I find it ultimately unrewarding. For one who predominately reads the work of his peers so that his own work will be read in return, editing for a journal is about the worst job he could have. There’s no expectation of help with my own writing. As I think I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I want to be a writer when I grow up, not an editor. Still, I have the job to do, and to do less than my best at it would be, at its most innocuous, a failure of my office, and at worst, a demonstration of an unforgivable petulant selfishness.
I’ve been working on the magazine in one form or another since before the end of my winter break.
Now, as the weeks wear on and the semester sputters forward, less hampered by meteorological interruption, I’m finding it more and more difficult to find much joy, or even much reason, to continue with school. I have been, and hope to continue to be, a strong proponent for the idea that education is not vocational training. There is nothing wrong with learning to perform a set of tasks, but that is not the goal of a college education, or it shouldn’t be.
The goal of collegiate study is to learn how to think and to expand your way of doing so. To wonder on things you might not have before and to find new interests, to begin to see the vastness of the world and at the same time see the patterns and meanings inherent in its function. I firmly believe that college education should bring one joy, not necessarily directly, but through allowing him to appreciate more than he could on his own. College is a system meant not to force you into a specific line of thinking but that instead forces you to think about things differently, holistically, skeptically.
The pursuit of knowledge is one of life’s greatest and only consistent sources of joy. Material goods may be lost, money may be spent, but knowledge, once earned, improves one for the remainder of his life.
And I’m simply not getting it here. This ultimate semester feels like so much treaded water. I’ve one course with an impending deadline, and it’s the one course I don’t need. It’s also the only one out of which I’m likely to get anything. The remaining four; the gym class in which the dilapidated gym coach re-wrote my well said explanation of kung fu and its tasks as a barely intelligible smattering of football commentator-ese (even going so far as to misspell kung fu as “kang fu” about a dozen times), the required humanities course in which the professor speaks so quietly as to be in audible and who has repeated a point I’ve made, nigh verbatim, as her own and yet brushed me off when I’d said it, the English course in which students teach each other, wherein I’m not sure any more than a small-handed few have even read the texts, and finally, the damned journal practicum on which I continually go on; all feel like busy work, not like education.
There’s more to the last on that list than I can ethically mention at this point. I do have reasons for feeling so down, some even beyond my own maudlin bouts of periodic self-pity.
For now, however, I am stuck such that I can say only that I’m as mad as hell, and have to keep taking this for several more months.
Explanations, somewhat cheery presentations, and of course a return to plant centric postings to come.
Bear with me and stay tuned, I promise the full story of my recent writing roller-coast ride to be rather entertainariffic.