“Because I want things to exist in the world.”—Impossible Mike, “an excessive pointlessness beyond terror and despair: why do i write”—HTMLGiant
Part 2 – The Practical
Because my other obsessions involve more math than I have practical ability with, I found that writing offers a way to involve myself in those obsessions. From astrophysics to particle physics to chemistry, biology, or engineering, and for as long as I can remember, I have pursued interests which fascinate me. Unfortunately, I also never put the effort into my math classes that I did into my English classes. Once I took a creative writing class in high school, and through the benefit of an excellent teacher, I was hooked. But it was still a while before I found there was a way to combine the two obsessions. Writing and science don’t seem to always go together outside dry textbooks or more interesting, yet still technical, books like Brian Greene’s or Stephen Hawking’s. Reading magazines like Science and Nature—and even National Geographic—in the libraries throughout elementary school grounded in me a love for the fantastic progress and understanding humanity is making in our age. Storytelling around the dinner table and for classes in school grounded in me a love for words.
I could not explain why words won out over science or engineering. I even attended an engineering summer session at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a private engineering college. In the end, I think it comes to the difference between my math teachers and my English teachers, as well as a little bit of predisposition toward English in my own brain. Every year in school, however, the English teachers were more enthusiastic, and more involved in their students, than the math teachers were. In my senior year, when I tried to take AP Physics without having first taken Calculus, the consequences of this disparity became apparent. I could not teach myself the calculus I needed to be successful in the class, but my Creative Writing teacher offered me a spot in her class as a teacher’s assistant. Instead of failing physics, I sat in a class and wrote. I can look back now and know that I wrote poorly. But I spent nearly two-thirds of my last year of high school writing.
Though I could not perform as well as I wanted in the sciences, I still enjoyed—and do to this day—reading those magazines. It was not until recently, though, that I put my interests together with my skills. The concepts of deconstructionism and post-modernism held a large parallel in my mind to our understanding of the quantum world. I began to try putting the two together, and while not successfully post-modern, maybe, my writing began to reflect my interests very closely.
Practically, I found that putting these two loves together stretched my writing. I found that I could still do both. I found that I could make a living out of this somehow. Maybe not directly, but an MFA degree will certainly help me find a practical job more so than a BA alone would have. Being married now, I have to consider how my wife and I will work together to support our family, and I like to think that writing will be a part of the endeavor. So beyond even connecting my two interests, I found I have a unique skillset which will help our family do just that.