Dear English Paper: Go Write Yourself

Dear English Paper,

I’ve been avoiding you, and I’m sorry.

In a way, this is all my fault. I took my first undergraduate English literature course when I was 18 years old and now, nine years later, I still don’t seem to have learned my lesson. I admit that it was arrogance on my part to register in a first-year fiction course with the assumption that I (who have been taking upper level English classes for the past few years) would find it easy. In my defense, I thought it might be interesting to get back to fiction basics, and also, the student bus pass I get when I take courses is SUPER cheap. All excuses aside, we’re here now, and I know it’s childish of me to hide from you.

But does this really have to be so hard? It’s not that I don’t want to write you, I do! In fact, I absolutely love having written an English paper, it’s just that I don’t want to go through the act of writing you, rehashing the same old MLA guidelines over and over, dealing with word counts and pretentious-sounding titles. We’ve been through it all before and every time it exhausts me.

We have some history, you and I. It’s not as though you’ve always been kind to me–I recall several occasions during which I was slumped on the rug between the shelves of the library’s journal collections crying because I couldn’t find the article I was looking for (and when I did find it, it wasn’t useful anyways). There’s been a lot of wasted printer ink. A lot of late nights. I give and I give and I give, English Paper, and it’s never enough for you, is it?

But I don’t want to blame you. You want me to be better. You want me to read more critically, think more deeply, and write more persuasively. I understand this, but it still hurts. In the dead of night when I’m hunched over my laptop and I want nothing more than to close my eyes and sleep or maybe, just maybe, read a damn book for pleasure now and again, it hurts.

I want you to know that the relief I feel every time I hand you off and stop thinking about you is immense. But something keeps drawing me back to you, English Paper, and I just can’t keep myself away–soon we are entwined in the same familiar dance: introductory paragraph, argument, textual support, properly cited references, conclusion… I spice it up with a few clever turns of phrase, something daring, something a bit flashy even, but soon that spark disappears and we go through the motions, plodding along, torturing one another until I’m so sick of you I stop caring whether I’ve done right by you, whether I’ve done the best I could.

Tell me, English Paper, how does the family dynamic affect the characters’ emotional growth in D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers? And would you say any of them find fulfillment? Why or why not?

But you won’t tell me. You’ll simply blink at me, your blank face transmitting nothing but my own words, words which seem foolish upon reevaluation. You will take my words, and give me nothing.

And yet, here we are. All paths lead to you. It is time for me to conclude this epistle and meet you face to face once more, on the barren white battlefield of our difficult and pedantic love.

Adieu, adieu