Friday, June 26, 2009

The Tree of Knowledge.

Like Lisa's first photo in her post on this subject, it's all been kind of one big blur. The years between my graduation and... er... present day, that is. My how the time, she do fly.

Like Jillian, I did a graduate degree - a Master of Arts, English degree specialising in Shakespeare and Arthurian literature. And what did that do for me, studying for so long 'neath the Tree of Knowledge? Well... it kept me off the streets and out of trouble for several years.

It didn't teach me how to write. But it did make me read a whole lot. In fact, what that degree did was, it crammed my head full of a bunch of stuff. Stuff which, lo these many many years later has fermented and distilled down into "stuff" of my own.

I vaguely remember the creeping sense of unease that I felt post-graduation upon departing the Hallowed Halls of Higher Learning. Stepping out from beneath the sheltering shade of the Tree...

I had letters behind my name, sure. More letters. Aaaannnd..... so what? For awhile there, I had the disquieting sense--like Jillian-- that all that schooling might have been for naught. That all my toiling, my slaving over hot textbooks, had been an exercise in futility. "Seriously", the nagging voice said, "what the hell are you gonna do with an MA?"

But I was writing, you see. And eventually--years later, to be sure, but still--I was writing stuff that I wouldn't have been able to write without all the stuff that, in the course of those studies, I'd been made to read.

So the question wasn't really ever "what are you gonna do"? It was "what have you already done"? And "how have all of those scintillating words and gorgeous phrases and magnificent stories that you sucked up into your brain in that tiny, stuffy, marvelous residence room affected you"?

My degree gave me the soil and the seeds and the watering can. It took a while for my own little tree to grow, but I'm pretty pleased with the fruit.


Jillian Cantor said...

Love your metaphor! And as you saw in my post, I can completely understand how you felt about your MA.

Tracy Madison said...

Wow, Lesley, beautiful post. Truly. Bravo!

Maureen Lipinski said...

And what knowledge you've been able to put on a page! I'm seriously still in awe of all of the cool twists on mythology and legend that you incorporated into WS!