One of the most common questions I get these days is, “What is your major?” and my answer remains the same, English. Then the question of what I want to do with that, like teaching or editing magazines and newspapers. There is this awkward moment when I tell them I want to be a creative writer and they stare at me like, “Um, that is great, best of luck.” I actually think the same—how I will never make any money, like most authors. I mean, creative writers dream of being on the same level as J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, et cetera, but pretty much none of us even get close in our entire lifetimes.
Now, when people learn that I am a creative writer, they automatically think all English majors are pro editors who know everything about the language, how to write good essays, how to conduct adequate research, how to write papers longer than five pages, and so on. I have always wondered why people think that. It is like asking a Biology major how Chemistry, Physics, and Ecology work and if they can help with those subjects. It is the same with me. People ask me all sorts of questions about assignments in their English classes. I tell them I am happy to edit their work and explain my reasoning behind what I do, but I cannot write essays to save my life. It takes me too long, and I never seem to put the paragraphs or information in the right order. If you ask if your thesis is any good, I cannot tell you. However, I am pretty good at editing since my mom drilled it into me since middle school.
When I tell people I cannot help them very much with their essays, they get angry and decide I could not possibly be any good at English. I do not really care what they think anymore. I have accepted the truth and I am just as annoyed as everyone else is with me because I cannot write good essays. Everything assigned in school is either a project, a term paper, exams without multiple choices, and none of those things are any easier for me than most people. So there you have it: I am not the English pro just because I am an English major.