I’ve always struggled with the idea of conventional education. Alongside editing my creative works, the education system has become the bane of my existence. I’ve forever had a love/hate relationship with classrooms. I love learning. I love to be challenged and increase my own intellectual prowess; I just don’t believe that the best way for me to do so is through university. The thought of writing pieces that are tailored to fit a marking sheet sends a shiver rolling down my spine. It seems incongruous to enroll in a course in creative writing only to have to stem the tides of my own creativity and start chasing grades instead. I’m stubborn as hell; you only have to read through a few of my posts to see that. And someone who wants to paint the world in glorious colour has no place in an educational system that promotes black and white.
I’m not knocking education in general. It’s really important that we make that distinction right here. University has its place in society. If I wanted to be a doctor, or a lawyer, exercise physiologist, or countless other professions then my progression through the tertiary education system would be an integral rite of passage. But when I am establishing a career out of my own creativity the process seems somewhat redundant; particularly for someone as headstrong as I am. There’s no one who understands the inner workings of my own mind like I do. And I resent someone grading something as personal as my creativity against the man or woman sitting next to me.
This is probably why I’ve racked up thousands of dollars worth of university debts across a number of partially completed degrees. I enrol, start off strong, and then eventually lose interest when assessments and classes pull me away from what I would rather be doing: writing. I’ve commenced and quit five separate university degrees, and right now I’m contemplating making it number six.
It hurts me to admit that I’m at this point again. I like to think that I am a resilient and adaptable man. I like to think that I am intelligent, and that I have the will and determination to see a task through to completion. When it comes to writing I push myself harder than anyone else ever could. I want to grow. I want to get better. And I want to finish a university degree for no other reason than to say that I didn’t give in. Because let’s be honest, a degree in writing doesn’t really equate to too much does it? I don’t want to be a journalist. I don’t want to be a copywriter. I just want to create literature. The most I’ll ever gain from my studies is an understanding of literature’s rules imparted onto the modern generation by all those who came before us. I’ll learn how the great minds of the past approached their craft. But if my successes so far have taught me anything it’s that rules are made to be broken.
I mean, how can someone manage to get a book put into print yet find it so difficult to adhere to something as simple as a study guide or assessment criteria? When I blog or write for myself I pour my heart and soul into what I do. I embrace vulnerability and allow my heart to bleed onto the page. Yet when I write at an academic level I have to be structured, restrained and ultimately boring. I remove the wondrous colours of a world that I’ve constructed in my head and leave behind the black and white outlines of a story that could have been great.
It sounds arrogant doesn’t it? I believe that I’m better than university right?
…Wrong. I just don’t gel with the classroom or the structure required to excel within it. When I was a kid my parents were so concerned with my lack of interest in writing and literature that they enrolled me in special education, those extra curricular activities for kids who are falling behind. But my problem wasn’t that I found literature boring: I just thought the way it was imparted upon my peers and I was pretty shit. Writing and art is about expressing oneself and breaking a piece down to the ridiculous where you know the text better than the author destroys the wonder within the words. I’ve carried this believe through to adulthood, creating university pieces that assessors have labeled vulgar, disgusting, and disturbing.
So here I sit, alone at my computer debating whether or not the graft of university studies is really worth the effort. If I was trying to do anything other than write creatively I would say most definitely. But when I’ve come so far already on my own should I bother writing to appease a lecturer? Or just keep building upon the momentum that I’ve gained and be the world eater who found publication all on his own? University is my Everest. It’s that goddamn elusive task that almost breaks me every time I try and climb it. Now I’ve got to decide if I truly need to mount this particular summit, or if simply creating a shoddy participation ribbon to mount on a mantle alongside my real achievements will suffice.