Catching Up

As the end of my first year in grad school approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I still have to learn, how even when I’m through I’ll still have so much to learn.

Since this is my first real down-and-dirty post, I should probably give you a little background. I’m enrolled in the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program at Kennesaw State University. My concentration is creative writing and my support area is applied writing (it’s a unique program–the only one of its kind in the country).

And I completed my Bachelor’s degree back in 1992. It was a BS. In computer science.

So, as I was saying, I have a lot to learn about creative writing. Besides the actual writing itself, what’s been bothering me most over the course of the past year is my lack of encyclopedia-like knowledge of authors and books that everyone else seems to know. I’m now intimately familiar with my cuticles after studying them every time a discussion begins about pertinent authors. Like a child, I try to make myself as unnoticeable as possible so I won’t have to reveal the gaping hole in my English Lit education.

By the way, I forgot to mention–I didn’t take a single English course during my undergraduate years.

I would love to be able to obliviously live the rest of my days believing I don’t need to have read every great book ever written. Of course, no one can read every great book ever written. But I know I need to do some major catching up in the reading department. Not so I can dazzle my professors or classmates. I need to read in order to learn how to write.

Where to begin? And how to make up for twenty-something lost years of reading? Of course, I can’t.

Last semester a classmate in the same predicament asked me for advice on what books she should read. Can you imagine? She asked me of all people. I had to confess. I didn’t want to lead her astray.

But afterward I realized that I actually did have an idea of where to begin, of how to go about catching up, so to speak. I could start with one book that I loved. Then I could find out what books and authors that author loved and read those. And so on and so forth. I could trace the influences of my favorite authors like one would trace her family tree.

So that’s my plan. And I also discovered last semester that I could handle reading one book per week–I had to, it was a class requirement. That’s fifty-two books a year, minimum.

I’d better get reading.

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