Friday, April 24, 2009

What I Want To Say ...

Truth is, I don't much like research.

Which is funny, because there was a time when I thought it might be nice to become a doctor and find the cure for cancer.

Not much research involved in that. Nope.

Though, perhaps research in the name of science would have suited me. I like to work with my hands. And labs are full of all kinds of nifty gadgets.

But book-learnin'?


I was a good student. A good-enough student. My friend Qusai once said to me, "Beth, do you realize that with just a little effort, you could be a straight-A student?"

To which I replied, "Yeah, but with almost no effort, I'm an A and B student."

And we won't tell the kids, but once you get out of college – assuming you're not going back to college – your transcripts mean bupkus. I've never once had anyone ask to see my college transcripts. (Disclaimer: I was an A and B student in my major. We won't talk about the occasional less-than-desirable grade in math. Or German. It's not that I couldn't learn German, it's just that there was no point, other than that the university required two years of a foreign language for graduation. To this day, the phrase that sticks in my mind the most from all four years of German – two in high school, two in college – is "Der Fernsehapparat ist wieder kaput." Translation: "The television set is broken again." Yup, that's going to give me an advantage in the global economy.)

But even before that, in high school, my apathy was well-developed. (Teenagers excel at sleeping and devising ways to get out of work.) English Teacher Dave, a dear friend to this day, had the challenge of teaching a gaggle of us who fell under some sort of Honors English banner. Or something like that. (High school was a long time ago.)

Now, I like reading. I like books. I like writing. I just don't necessarily like writing about books that I'm required to read. (So I became an English major in college. Good plan, Beth! But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

One of my high-school assignments with Dave was a report on Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I wrote it. I turned it in. I received it, graded. Dave wrote on the evaluation page, "You left out the class struggle in this book."

To which I thought, "It's amazing that that's all I left out, considering I didn't read it."

Ah, this is all so funny to me now.

Yes, I know that I was only cheating myself. But I can read A Tale of Two Cities someday if I'm really moved to do so. I can't imagine that day will ever come, but it's nice to know that every copy of Dickens won't spontaneously combust before I have the chance to not read them.

Anyway, the point is that I don't much like research.

(At some point in my life, perhaps when I as in high school, perhaps not, I ran across this "Calvin and Hobbes" strip that in four panels perfectly summed up my scholastic attitude. I gave a copy of it to English Teacher Dave and he had it blown up and laminated, a copy for each of us. Mine hangs right next to my computer monitor. Click on it to see the larger – readable – image.)

Which is why, while I can report and write a story and have, many times, it's not where my heart is at. I don't want to talk to other people and write about their lives. I want to write what I want to write. (Hence why I've been blathering away in this space for more than four years now.)

I'm reading my friend Jeff's book, The Girls From Ames, and I'm enjoying it. (Jeff, I'll finish it this weekend and drop you a line.) Jeff spent a whole lot of time talking to the girls from Ames and a whole lot of time writing the book and I've no doubt that he has another bestseller on his hands.

But Jeff is the consummate reporter.

I, by comparison, am not.

And so, I have an idea for a book. It is not yet fully formed, but it will be a story that comes from inside me, not from extensive research and interviews and analysis. It will not be fiction because I do not fancy myself a writer of fiction, as much as I admire those who are. It will not be Eat, Pray, Love because Elizabeth Gilbert would probably be pissed if I copied her book and put my name on the cover.

But it will be project. And I need a project. I'll keep you posted.


Anonymous Alison said...

I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

: o )

Yup, I'm pretty sure we were, too.

9:57 AM  
Blogger OneMan said...

Glad to see that with my swie years Deutch um gymnasium I am not the only one who still remembers Das Ferseoperat (sp?)

It did come in handy when we went to Germany...

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For someone who majored in German, I'm impressed that you remembered a relatively complicated sentence.

My favorite snippet that was a running joke with me and my best friend was "Sind Ost-Deutsche Praeservative wirklich wie Traktorreifen?" I'll let you figure that one out.

In the meantime, projects are a wonderful thing.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and read A Take of Two Cities sometime. It was the ONLY Dickens book I could ever tolerate, and actually liked.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I think we are exact opposites on this, Beth. I've always loved research. Mind you, I never studied in school. In fact, I hated school. But then I think it comes down to I enjoy researching what I want to research, not what someone tells me to.

8:36 PM  

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