Saturday, October 3, 2009

Strange Reactions

by Jonterri Gadson
I've begun bracing myself a little bit when people ask me what I do or what I'm studying. I can't believe how shocked people are to find out that I'm in grad school studying creative writing. I get a lot of "Wow! I never heard of doing that before"'s or they like to tell me what they expected me to study, "I thought maybe you were in the sciences," or "I thought they only give fellowships out for research." It's really weird! lol

Do you all get weird reactions from people? Maybe it's the way I'm explaining it. How do you explain what you're doing?


  1. Okay, so no one has given me the business about being an MFA student yet, but I have been telling people about what I do for a while. Generally I make jokes (like insisting that poetry is the most lucrative career in the U.S. and that that is common knowledge) or bust out my well-honed undergraduate English major discursive, expository B.S. and talk about my themes and intellectual interests. I'm good at convincing people that what I am doing matters :-)

  2. LOL Yeah, I usually say something about being okay with being broke for the rest of my life as a poet lol. I guess it all started with the English degree though. People are like, "ok, so you wanna be a teacher?" and I'm like, "I want to write and teach, but on the college level." They just don't get it!

    I'm going to start using the common knowledge bit lol

  3. I've definetly noticed a "tonal shift" in responses by folks outside the arts or humanities - Me: I'm a graduate teaching fellow ar the University."
    Them: Oh!
    Me: "In creative writing."
    Them: oh-wh. That sounds nice...

    As opposed to those in the know:
    Me: "... in creative writing."
    Them: That's great!
    Me: "I know. :)"

  4. P.S. What I meant to say is, I don't explain.

  5. I guess I haven't really conversed with people outside the English Department for the past month and a half, so I haven't run into this.

    When I was deciding to do the MFA, I got some of it, and my general response to "But what do you want to DO?" is that I want to get my PhD and be a professor. Which is true. I think.

  6. I tend to emphasize my desire to teach at the college level. Then I crack a joke about how the economy has three years to recover enough to return funding to education in order to hire me or I'm going to give it a stern talking to. This shifts the conversation to the downturn in the economy which is an effective, if rather depressing way to change the subject.

  7. most of my conversations went like this

    q - so what do you do?
    a - i'm in graduate school

    q - for what?
    a - writing

    q - really?
    a - yes, i hope to teach at the college level

    q - (response) oh kewl

    for some reason that is how that would generally go when grouped that way.

    now that i am done with school and i'm a housewife trying to do freelance i just say i am doing freelance and i don't often mention poetry. except it is on my business cards first :)

  8. Maybe because I work at Starbucks, but a lot of my customers are like wow, writing. That's awesome. What do you write? They are pretty into it, some of them are writers themselves. I don't know. They ask me what I want to do but generally it's accepting.

  9. Somehow with a university attached to it, I get less of the "Oooh, that's...interesting," than I used to as an actor. But everyone thinks I want to be a professor. Sometimes if I'm not in the mood to deal with it I just say, "Yeah, that's right, teaching."


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