Why English, Creative Writing and the Fantasy Genre are all good things

When people ask me what I’m currently doing, or what I’m majoring in, I tell them the truth. I tell them that I am currently working towards a BA in English, with an interest in creative writing. Normally, there are only two kinds of responses to my revelation. The first is usually just “Oh, that’s good.” or  “How interesting”  with the kind of tone that belies what they just said. The second case is when people ask “Oh, well what can you do with that?”. I can’t tell you how many times this happens to me and it gets old relatively quickly.

In the first type of response, it almost sounds like they have no hope for you, like they don’t  actually think that’s a good or interesting thing. My own family does this sometimes; they’ll ask me what I’m doing and I’d tell them and usually the conversation ends with them making an altogether different kind of suggestion of what I should do with my life. In the second case, they basically flat out tell you there’s no hope, as if there isn’t a chance I’d ever succeed. Around this time is when I sprinkle some facts on their lives, courtesy of truth. English is a broad term and can be implemented in practically any work environment. What can you do with an English Major? Well let’s see, you can go into education where the average salary for a high school teacher is around 45,000 to 65,000$ a year. Which may not sound like a whole lot depending on who you’re talking to, but you get entire seasons and weeks of free vacation and the money is good enough for some McDonald’s and maybe some new shoe strings.  The salary however, can often times double for teachers at colleges and universities, making well over $100,000 in most cases. You might also consider going into publishing and writing as well,  which averages at about the same as a high school salary, but once again has the potential for double, triple the salary and in some cases can even make you a billionaire (Author and writer of Harry Potter?). Yeah, supersize that Big Mac and lace those shoe strings with diamonds. You can also go into Information and research, the press and media, public service, and even politics.

According to the article In defense of the ‘Impractica1000509261001_2008586726001_BIO-Mitt-Romney-SF-FIX-2l’ English Major, “…former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney opened up about the fact that he was once (gasp!) an English major. Romney studied the classic canon of English literature at Brigham Young University and even considered a PhD program in literature…”. Having an English background would undoubtedly do naught but aid those campaigning in politics, considering the amount of speeches that are often necessary. Furthermore, an article titled The Best Argument for Studying English? The Employment Numbers by The Atlantic,  relates and compares a few unemployment outcome percentages right after graduating, conveying that English majors sit at 9.8 percent unemployment, with political science and economics graduates sitting at 11.1 and 10.4. Although the numbers may not seem like a huge difference, it’s still enough to stick it to those people who argue about English majors not being viable in this economic testchart2-thumb-570x432-125196market.  In another article by the Huffington Post, Employers Target Liberal Arts Majors And College Grads Who Had Internships: Survey, “Well, a recent survey of 225 employers issued by Millennial Branding and Experience Inc. finds employers are seeking out liberal arts majors almost as much as engineering students. Thirty percent of employers in the survey said they were going after liberal arts types, just shy of the 34 percent who indicated they were seeking grads who studied engineering and computer information systems.”. So much for English or Creative Writing majors not being as relevant in the job market.

Being an avid reader mainly adhering to the Fantasy genre, much like being asked about being an English major, I am often asked “Why Fantasy?”. Well for me personally, I read Fantasy mainly because I’m a nerd and I enjoy reading about magical duels and other fantastical races such as Elves or Dwarves. But the tone in the way some people ask, or the phrasing is such that it implies they view fantasy perhaps as a waste of time or childish. It is understandable that people have this perspective. After all, the fantasy genre stemmed mainly from children’s fairytales or folklore such as the stories told by the Brothers Grimm. But it has evolved into something more sophisticated than just Fairytales. In some cases, the Fantasy genre has become an environment of writing in which authors and writers may write about or refer to issues similar to those happening in the real world that may be too touchy to write about anywhere else.  As the article Why Fantasy Matters put it, “But in fantasy, by virtue of being a fantasy, we create some much needed distance that allows the reader’s subconscious to take in what the conscious mind is too terrified by.”. Centuries ago, before writing became a tool to advance the human mind, almost all literature or stories belonged in the fantasy genre. People sought explanations for the way things were and why things happened and most of the time, they believed in fantastical tales of sun gods and spirits of nature and the like. Nowadays, as stated in Why Fantasy is important, “Modern fantasy has been described as ‘escapist literature’, and with good reason. While quality fantasy does incorporate elements and ideals from our world, its primary goal is to take the reader away, filling their head with the fantastic, whether the end goal be a sense of wonder, spine-crawling fear, unease in a lonely bedroom at night, triumph of the human spirit, love for mankind, or any of the myriad emotions such books can draw from the hearts of its readers.”  Sometimes stress from everyday life in the real world may become too difficult to dwell on, or sometimes the world seems bland just outright boring. It’s times like these that the fantasy genre can be window to another world, where anything may be possible. One of the big themes prominent in the Fantasy genre, is to place a seemingly ordinary character and place him or her in extraordinary circumstances. Among other things, Fantasy can inadvertently strengthen the imagination and creativity of readers, which is healthy for the brain and human cognition. All in all, Fantasy can sometimes be more relevant to the world at large than people think. It opens paths to the unknown and the universe’s countless possibilities. It is the genre for the greatest of thinkers.

By: J. Garza

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