Thursday, October 06, 2011

Literature of digression?

Here I have been digressing for years and now I discover that there is actually a literary genre called the "literature of digression." Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne was apparently one of them. It was a 18th century novel written in nine volumes. The narrator digresses so much that the main character isn't even born until volume three. Now that is a digression.

I actually read Tristram Shandy in 8th grade. I thought it sucked.

But I digress.

I have never been fond of the term literature. It conjures up too many bad associations for me of literature students dissecting some author's works to determine how it ticks the same way a biology student would perform a vivisection on a rat. Neither the author nor the rat really take much pleasure in either act.

Not that I would consider anything I write as literature. Nor would I expect anyone to study it or perform a vivisection on it. When you peel away the layers of an onion you will typically discover an onion. So you are better off just eating it and appreciating that it is an onion.

I have never really understood why people get PhD's in literature. You shouldn't study literature, you should read it. It is not as if people with PhD's in literature actually end up writing great literature themselves. All they seem to write about is what some author was writing about. But if the author was any good in the first place, he or she wouldn't need some PhD to interpret what they were trying to say, now would they?

Of course, I am over generalizing as usual. I think it is nice that people can spend years and thousands of dollars getting an education to deconstruct the meaning of the harpoon in Moby Dick. The practical side of me wonders how in the hell they make a living with a PhD in literature. I like to read and write, too, but at least I majored in Journalism so people didn't ask me what I was going to do with my degree once I graduated. Most people assume literature majors are going to either teach or be barista's.

 I don't like poetry or creative writing (fiction or non-fiction) majors either. As a rule, I think poetry sucks and teaching someone to write creatively if they don't have talent is like teaching a cat to bark.

But I digress.

Personally, I learned to write by reading. To this day, I probably couldn't diagram a sentence if my life depended upon it. But I know intuitively when something is wrong with one. And I don't need to sit in a creative writing class having eight other "writers" telling me how they would have written my story.

I think constructive criticism sucks.

But I digress.

I guess I've given up on the concept of writing fiction and being a great novelist anyway. I don't have the patience to craft three or four hundred pages of plot with believable characters that don't bore me. I'm better suited to crank out 1000 word blog posts without any deep meaning or point.

It's my art and I think I'll keep it.
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