by Jessica Harrington
I have often wondered if creativity is something one inherits, as they would a late grandmother’s ring, from the previous generation or is something we are genetically born with, like a small stature or pale skin. Is it that a creative persons brain perceives things in such a way that their imagination is on continuous over-drive, or is it a skill we are taught like addition and subtraction? For me I feel it is a mixture of inheritance and genes. My mother was an artist and poet, my grandmother a beautiful writer, my uncle an amazing musician and songwriter. I have learned from all of them, yet I knew I was like them since I was a child, always creating and expressing myself through written words. Writing has always just been something I have done; I have never had to work at it the same way as I do with math and science. This natural “talent” has dictated my academic ventures, pushing me to major in English, a degree most seem to view as useless as a bathing suit in a snowstorm. At first, I was surprised by people’s reactions, “Oh, an English major? But what do you plan on doing for a career, are you going to teach?”, “Oh, a writer huh? Good luck with that.” I now expect the concern, confusion, and scoffs as to why I spend so much time and money on pursuing the academics of a subject that, according to the naysayer’s, surely promises a bleak existence post-graduation. I could not disagree more; I see my only problem lying in choosing what direction to go once I graduate. I can pursue law, business, editorial work, publishing, marketing, or, like many writers dream, spending months at a lake house in my office, with views of the breathtaking landscapes, writing another best selling novel. Ha! If life could only be so perfect. I will most likely work for a publisher and write for myself in my free time, an existence I think I can cope with. In the meantime, I am thankful for the good fortune I’ve had in being able to learn from professors I have great admiration for and they are the ones who are helping me become a writer, the writer I aspire to be. They hone my skills, help me organize my thoughts, and teach me tricks of the trade to develop my craft further. Although my creativity has always been present, many of my classmates have not had such an easy road. The same professors that have helped refine and improve my ideas have helped other students figure out how to come up with ideas, guiding them in how to draw inspiration and feel emotion. A good analogy would be that an English professor is similar to a Sherpa, the first guiding their students up the mountain of literature and creation, the latter up the peaks of the Himalayas, both being long journeys requiring the knowledge of a wise, experienced person. Despite the valuable lesson these professors can provide, I would not call it teaching creativity, it is more like helping students discover their creative sides. Whatever you future goals may be though, an English degree is a good place to start. To quote an article I cannot remember the title or author of, English degrees teach students how to think, a trait that is highly desirable to future employers.