My husband thinks that because I majored in Journalism and English, I spent 4 years diagramming sentences and separating my pronouns from my verbs. He’s sorely mistaken.
The Journalism half of my degree consisted of courses in Media Ethics, Advanced Reporting and Writing for the Media. Those were okay, although I didn’t really get along with my fellow “media” majors. Most of them were headed to the TV news anchor chair and took themselves way too seriously.
The English half was the fun half – I read, and I wrote.
In college I took classes in British Literature, The Short Story, Literature and Film, American Studies… I can go on. I read everything from the classics (Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter) to more contemporary literature (Snow Falling on Cedars, Dharma Girl.) And what did I learn from that, besides the fact that after the third time ’round, I had Hamlet memorized?
That you can take classes all day about sentence structure and past participles, but will they help you become a better writer? No. The only to do that is to read. I just gave that advice to an aspiring high school student who’s torn between becoming a nurse and becoming a writer. I told her to do both.
I always cracked up in the bookstore at the beginning of every semester, because I wound up buying a giant stack of paperbacks while other students lugged 30-pound textbooks. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
To this day I prefer reading over anything else. Just yesterday I received a box of books in the mail. I’m lucky enough to have been picked as one of the 15 members of the Reader’s Panel for Elle Magazine. I can’t give away the books, but I have about two weeks to read them and submit my thoughts. I guess what I’m saying is: pick up a copy of the December Elle when it comes out. You just might see my name in print!