Were you once an English major? I was. Ultimately I became discouraged with the dreary state of English criticism, and that was one thing (there were others) that drove me away from an academic career, first into business, then into medicine. I could not see spending the rest of my life writing papers about other people's papers about other people's papers.
And I had come to English because I loved fiction. And poetry. The written English word, the story, the narrative, the adventure, the characters, the texture and rhythm and touch and taste and feel of nouns and verbs, piled up in dizzying, vertiginous, heartstopping towers of beauty and meaning.
'Thomas H. Benton' (a pseudonym), an American university English professor, asked his students why they wanted to study literature. Take a look at the answers they gave him. Do they sound familiar to you? They sure do to me. Every single one (except the penultimate one) resonates with me. My belief, correct or incorrect, that by the mid-1970s the scholarship of English literature had gotten so far off the rails that it no longer cared about any of this stuff was why I quit the field. This was before post-modernism, post-structuralism, and critical theory hit their stride. I hear it's only gotten worse since.
One other thing.
Benton starts off his essay talking about the film, Dead Poets Society, and says this:
But how one reacts to that depends on the individual. In the late 1970s I tried to teach myself to draw. I bought a few 'How to Draw' books, some sketching materials, and started drawing things around the house: cups, shoes, clothing draped over chairs, the view out the window. I was never very good, and quit after about a year. But it was a worthwhile effort: trying to see the world as an artist sees it was a new, rather shocking experience. I found that when I had looked at objects, I hadn't really seen them, because I couldn't reproduce what they looked like. The experience made me more appreciative of what artists do, and of the subtlety and skill in good paintings and drawings. It gave me a new map to lay across the world, a new way of seeing.
I don't feel bitter that I never became a great artist. I'm still richer for the experience of having tried. I hope young people who are encouraged to be writers and poets feel the same, even if they are not the ones 'chosen'.
Paperback Writer talks about how to create series novels. Interesting stuff.
meaning: mourn, loss, death
喪中 == moshu == (noun) mourning
Obscure origin. Henshall suggests taking the top elements as 'ten' (十) plus two 'mouths' (口), and 'clothes' (衣) that is missing parts, and as a mnemonic: 'Twelve mouths mourn missing clothes.'