Tuesday, December 21, 2021

the ghosts of bookish obsessions past

In my effort to make some good changes in my bandwidth after the new year, I mentioned a couple times I've been doing some freelance copywriting/editing work to bridge the gap. One of which is writing & researching lesson plans and SEO optimized class content for an online learning site.  My domain, obviously,  is in the  humanities topics (I've written on lit, of course, some mythology, but also art and theater.) It's not only had me learning about some things I knew very little about before research (cycloramas, who knew?) but also revisiting some texts that I have't read in years like The Great Gatsby and Frankenstein.  I laughed when I realized there was a certain bent (barring Gatsby) to my selections (darker Kate Chopin Faulkner, Mary Shelley, The Scarlet Letter, Poe, Wuthering Heights.  There is also a whole bunch of Toni Morrrison in there I want to snag,)  

I get to choose the jobs I work on, so of course you'd find me orienting to the most horror-like offerings. It's also cool to go back and revisit some things I haven't read since undergrad or grad school.  As I was rooting around in all these darker things--revenge plots, science gone bad, southern gothicism, it of course got me thinking about how much many of these things, even though I haven't looked at them in years, probably formed the bed rock of my own aesthetic tastes. I mean, it was there before, in the form of horror movies and  my love of Stephen King and his ilk, but I was so ecstatic as a lit major to find things in my classes that scratched that same itch.  While there is a lot of literature that leaves me cold, these were the things I was most excited about in my classes..the things I devoured and wrote papers on and wanted to talk about constantly. I think about the end of my teens and the beginning of my twenties, a time when one might wander what one does as an adult with a lit major,  Not only that, but an MA in Lit where I spent two years in the thick of it. 

I was, of course, planning to teach, before I realized I don't have the required patience or people skills,  Also, mad social anxiety that would have left me a mess always having to be on. But the subject matter, I loved, and it's what made me a writer and is probably what makes me excited going back to all these bits of past fascinations.  It's strange, this life of books.  I still have not, with the exception of some poetry volumes, which I beasted for the Sealey challenge in August, and of course dgp manuscripts, really gotten my reading desires back in the pandemic. I've tried reading new fiction and I lose my way a few pages in, especially now as the doomscroll returns and I have a million things clicking in my head.  I've had better luck WRITING fiction lately than being able to immerse myself in the world of a novel.  It was easy to go back and page through Frankenstein or The Scarlet Letter because I know them well from before. (interestingly, though I had a class in my MA that was a whole lot of Hawthorne, I don't think I'd read Mary Shelley since high school, so my late 40's self probably got so much more than my 17 year old self. I also read The Scarlet Letter at 16 and was probably one of the only people in the class that loved it (it was doomed romance with very dark themes, what's not to love?)  

The reader I was, even then, informed the books I write myself now. You go from talking about and obsessing about books to writing them and I suppose that's the inevitable path.  As someone who hasn't gone the traditional teaching route, this feels new and a little exciting to me. I even like the editing back and forth process to hammer out the finish product, which I am usually on the other side of.  I love that this has afforded me time (and I'm actually getting paid a little) to think about the work that formed my young writer brain all those years ago with a new vantage point. 

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