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July 28, 2009 |
To the Host:
So, what exactly IS an English major supposed to do after college?
This is the beautiful problem that confounds us all, Andrea, and we must face it every morning with as much wit and bravery as we can summon up. What you do, exactly, is get out of bed, pee, put water on to boil for tea or coffee, put bread in the toaster, choose between the apricot and blueberry yoghurt, eat slowly and thoughtfully, take a shower, and put on clean clothes, and by this time you likely will know what comes next. Merce Cunningham faced this problem and so does Michelle Obama and Brett Favre and the Queen of Tonga. If I believed in the efficacy of long-range planning, I'd recommend it, but I believe in luck and improvisation and the gyroscope in your heart and the built-in b.s. detector that English majors are supposed to acquire, having created so much of it in our term papers. You don't have ENGLISH MAJOR tattooed on your forehead so don't consider it a limitation. Just remember that your youth and energy and confidence and ambition are great assets in this world: you are needed somewhere. Remind yourself every day to do things that make you cheerful, which might include strenuous physical exercise or meditation or simply being with friends who make you laugh. Have a good life, in other words. They say that one good tactic in finding happiness is to help people who are worse off than yourself. I wouldn't know about that, but I know people who recommend it. And now I am going to go work on my novel, which is confounding me, and I wish you were here to tell me what to do with it. HEY. There's an idea. Be an editor. Why not? Start out by going over this letter and cutting out all the clichés and reducing it to the one sentence that actually makes sense. And then tell me what that is so I can go do it myself.