An Unwanted Education: The Path to Better Writing or Revenge?

What I really want is a Time Travel Conference with a workshop on how to convert a car into a time machine. I don't have a DeLorean, but I do have a 1988 Volvo with heated seats and great steering radius. Same thing, right?

What I really want is a Time Travel Conference with a workshop on how to convert a car into a time machine. I don’t have a DeLorean, but I do have a 1988 Volvo with heated seats and great steering radius. Same thing, right?

I have an undergraduate degree in writing. My master’s degree is in historic preservation. I can write a great building description. And because my undergrad minor is in German language, ich kann Deutsch schlechte sprechen.

So, why those specific degrees? I selected my undergraduate college based on one thing—cost. And since it didn’t cost very much, it didn’t offer much. I knew I didn’t want to challenge myself by majoring in something hard like physics, and all the other non-education majors tended to be so full that getting the right courses every semester was nearly impossible. So, I picked English—or specifically English with an emphasis in writing. If I tell people I majored in English, they think I’ve read every Jane Austen book when in reality, I didn’t take very many lit courses. It’s easier just to say I have a degree in writing.

By the time I got around to returning to school for my graduate degree, I was ensconced in my museum career. I didn’t think I would get as much out of a degree in museum education.  I enjoyed studying the built environment. I hoped to work for the National Trust for Historic Preservation again. And historic preservation is one of those very broad fields that under the right circumstances includes museum administration. Besides, I was pretty sure I would get into the University of Maryland’s program with very little effort, and since the main campus was located half-way between my job and my apartment, it was pretty darn convenient.

As for that undergrad minor in German, I have no good explanation other than I had taken four years of German in high school and had dated my German teacher’s brother. I guess I thought I’d need German to communicate with my ex-future-mother-in-law? Jawohl! I see the irony.

But all other explanations aside, I always studied what interested me, and not what was most practical. Life is too short to be academically bored—or so I usually believe. Of course, lately, I have thought that degrees in geriatrics and Spanish would have served me better in my present situation. Oh, well, I am not going back to school to study either.

In fact, I’ve been receiving flyers via email announcing an educational conference for care-givers and a workshop series put on by the county’s Department of Aging and Disabilities, and I am debating whether I will attend. I’m sure the sessions will be informative, but I don’t want to learn more about caring for elderly family members—it just not an education I want.  I don’t care about being a better care-giver because I don’t want to be a care-giver. Period. I want this unfortunate phase of my life to just end. So, unless they are handing out Dr. Kevorkian’s phone number or giving away instructions on how to build a time machine so that I can go back and undo all the mistakes of the past year, I’m just not interested.  Oh, wait, Kevorkian is dead? I’m going to need to build a time machine if I want his help? Well, that just sucks.

Anyway, you get the picture. I don’t want to spend my very limited granny-free, child-free time learning about how to manage someone else’s diabetes or what to expect from the various stages of someone else’s dementia.

The only reason I am considering attending is that as a writer, I don’t know where my next idea is going to originate and so I think I need to be open to every opportunity, every experience. I may one day write a piece of fiction in which a character is a caring for her mother-in-law. I know that’s not much of a stretch, but seriously, you think fiction has to be fictitious?

I do a lot of things just to see how the writer part of my brain will process and use the experience. So, education—even the super boring stuff—is never completely wasted on me.

And I will start making plans now to attend the writers’ conference in February, too. Between the two conferences, perhaps I will find my way to write a novel loosely based on my life as it is at this moment. Hmmm…with that in mind, the people currently on my piss-list need to be nice to me. Otherwise, I will write a character based on them and it won’t be a flattering portrayal. Mhahahahaha!

Okay, that’s not much of a threat, but sadly, it’s all I’ve got.

See? Education is always a good thing. Never wasted.


2 thoughts on “An Unwanted Education: The Path to Better Writing or Revenge?

  1. Anita

    Susan, you have discovered my own book-writing plan! Those who cross us better be careful–content is found EVERYWHERE.

  2. Lisa

    Ha ha HA! A friend told me that she saw a tshirt recently that read, “Be careful. You may end up in my novel.” I currently have 3 novels in my head. I’m waiting for some folks to grow up and others to die first. Have you heard of National Writing month? I think you are challenged to write so much everyday. Just for the experience of it. Another thing that is on my radar is a curriculum designed for high school students in which it guides you through writing an adventure novel over the course of one school one year. I wonder: is dysfunctional drama an adventure?


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