Dear Ppl Who Think It’s Cool to Make Me Justify Life Choices

21 Oct

Dear Ppl Who Think It’s Cool to Make Me Justify Life Choices the First Time They Meet Me,

Hey dude. I just met you. So when you ask me what I do and I say, “I’m getting my master’s in creative writing,” the proper response is “Cool,” or “What do you write?” or, “So….do you wanna write books’n’stuff?” or “I really love Harry Potter,” or “My great aunt published a poem once.”

It is not, “WHY would you get a master’s degree in that?” said in a tone of voice that clearly indicates you think it’s ridiculous because you wrote a very creative Facebook invite once and it’s not that hard, so I must clearly be a special sort of delayed cavewoman to need an advanced degree to understand how to do it.

Hint: just because you say it with a smile doesn’t mean I won’t want to rip your face off!

I know you’re challenging the very worth of what I spend my time doing. If you don’t think that’s what’s going on—if you think you’re just making conversation— then when’s the last time you asked a lawyer why s/he got an advanced degree? “Because they have to have one to do what they do,” right? But a writer– a writer could just write.

What about politicians? Oh, those guys. Those crazy, non-practicing lawyers. What goofballs, thinking they should learn some stuff about some stuff about laws and what’s legal and illegal before they run for office and stuff so that they can do a fair to middling job or whatever.

Then! When I mention teaching creative writing, the proper response is NOT, “Yeah, but can creative writing even be taught?”

Wow! Double whammy! Hit me from both sides! Simultaneously accusing me of studying something that can’t be learned and of teaching something that can’t be taught! You’re right. Due to your insight, I am going to change my life and become a— I’m sorry, what was it that you do? I’m going to do that, because clearly it’s very useful.

Now “can art be taught and how” is an interesting debate when bandied about by people seriously engaged in the practice of art and attempting to parse out the boundaries between talent and skill, craft and genius, inspiration and perspiration. It’s a terrible debate when you ask, because I’m just going to say “yes” and then stare at you blankly.

You don’t like the “yes and stare blankly” approach? Ok, well the other answer is this: “Did I mention that it’s my time I’m spending, and not yours? But right now you are spending my time by making me justify my existence to you?”

Oh wait, but you asked me with a smile, so now I’m the asshole. I should have started this letter with “No offense, but…” What?!? No way, bro.

Love!

MM

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