I’ve sometimes missed the simplicity and camaraderie that characterized my college years. One of my majors in college was English, so I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun to go back and be able to discuss books with other people?” Taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in historical fiction helped cure me of this feeling.
The one thing that the course confirmed for me was that college was much simpler than my current life as a writer. Why? Because other people told me what to read and write. And that was the situation I found myself in during my online class.
At one point during the course, I watched a recording of students at the university interacting with an author of a book we read. I had several issues with the novel, including the fact that it contained almost no dialogue.
In my opinion, college should be teaching young people to think critically. And I had certain professors who encouraged students to share their honest opinions. Yet during this class discussion each of the students praised the visiting author’s work. They started their responses with phrases like “I thought it was really interesting that…” or “I really enjoyed…” Meanwhile I’m sitting at my desk thinking, Wait, you couldn’t ALL have enjoyed this book.
The students were asked by their professor to respond to what they read, but every one of them knew that they could not say that they disliked the book, or that it would make an excellent sleeping aid without the harmful side effects.
Perhaps losing a couple of hours of my time bothered me less in my early twenties. Back then, school was my primary job, and most jobs involve something that’s distasteful. Even though I love writing, there are aspects of it that I would rather skip, especially if footnotes are involved.
But please don’t ask me to spend my free time reading a book that I don’t like. Time is just too precious.