I love my Lit professor

so much. Like…if it wasn’t taboo to randomly dive on professors and give them enormous hugs, I would do it.

Dr. Cole is pretty much amazing. His lit class this semester has been my favorite class, even over dance (which I guess really isn’t surprising at all, since that is entirely non-academic). He’s from South Africa, and he has this absolutely amazing accent. He comes into class every day and tells us we are the best class on campus and we all should be English majors. And he writes nice things on our papers after he grades them (or at least he does on mine. I don’t exactly see anyone elses’ =P). He’s willing to adjust the class syllabus to fit our needs. The class itself has been fantastic. I’ve missed studying literature, a lot. We’ve read a few strange random things that weren’t super thrilling, but 99% of the literature we have studied has been so amazing. Even the stuff that I’ve read and not cared much for, he makes exciting and brings a whole new level (or multiple levels) of meaning to it in the class discussions. And he always brings the discussion back to Christianity and our faith. He occasionally has us write down things we like and don’t like about the class “because he wants to know what he is doing wrong and how he can be a better teacher.” (as opposed to some other professors I could name, who think they are always right and we are always wrong and pretty much there’s nothing anyone can do about it so we get to live with it). And he makes my Tuesdays and Thursdays a whole lot better than they would be otherwise. =P

This morning he had one-on-one meetings with all his students to go over the abstracts we’ve written this week for our big research papers.

I was kind of nervous because I wasn’t totally sure if I did mine right, or if my topic was good enough for a ten-page paper…but you know, I did my best. Each of us got a 20-minute time slot. I walked up to his office and the girl who went before me was still there, so I waited until she finished. Then Dr. Cole called me in and I sat down and handed him a copy of my abstract. He didn’t even look at it (so I still don’t know if I wrote it correctly or not XD), and he asked me to just tell him about my topic and what I wanted to do.

I told him I was going to do something about appearance versus reality, but concentrate on the appearance/reality of beauty and goodness, rather than like masking/facades or something. I want to use Flannery O’Connor’s short story A Good Man is Hard to Find, Shakespeare’s Othello, Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn, and G. M. Hopkins’ poem God’s Grandeur. Dr. Cole looked impressed and asked me to tell him more…about how I was going to use those works. So I told him that too. All this took about five minutes.

I finished, and he sat there for a second holding my abstract and staring at me. And then he told me, “I have nothing to say. This is amazing. This tells me that all the work I have done in class this semester has not been in vain. My people in Africa have a saying, that you can tell the corn’s ripeness by its appearance [or something like that]. I’ve been in this business for a long time. I can tell. You need to be an English major. You need to declare an English major right now. I’m completely serious. I have nothing to say about your paper. This is perfect.”

I almost started crying, it made me so happy.

He then asked me if I was leaving Hope (I had asked him earlier to write a letter of recommendation for me to send to another college I applied to as a transfer student). I told him I wasn’t completely sure yet, but I wanted to say. He gave this enormous sigh of relief and said “Praise the Lord!” …hehe =P

He asked what I was planning to major in, and I said I was thinking English with a writing concentration. He looked at me over his glasses and replied that I could go ahead and do whatever I wanted, but he was going to try very very hard to sway me over to the literature and critique side of English.

And then he looked at my abstract again, looked back at me, and said, “You can go. I don’t have anything to say about this. It’s perfect. This is an A+ paper. I’m looking forward very much to reading it. I’m excited to see what you come up with.”

And I thanked him, and left.

And I’m so, so, so happy right now. I think that was the best present anyone could ever give me.

The whole way back to my dorm I was thinking about what Dr. Cole said about my major, and how I should be in the Lit side of things, rather than writing. And as soon as I got back, I looked up the required classes for an English/Lit major. If I did that, I would still have some time, I think, to take several writing classes. The major requires one writing class, and there are really only two writing classes that I really really want to take (Nonfiction [what I’m doing next semester] and Poetry). and I could stick Poetry in somewhere in the future, I know. The requirements for an English major are a lot…less…than the requirements for a Dance minor. =P

And you know.

I just might do that.

I like creative writing. I really do. And majoring in it would be fun. Taking all those classes sounds so cool. But really…I have been thinking about it over the past few weeks, and realizing that I have always had so much fun in my Lit classes. If the teacher is half decent…there is so much to learn, from studying literature. There is so much to discover in each work, that’s waiting just below the surface for you to find. And I love finding it. It makes me so excited. Whereas creative writing is really more stressful to me than fun, when I’m doing it for a reason other than I just felt like writing a little something. I can write short sketches of things. I really like writing description. But anything with dialogue…anything with a plot…it’s just stressful, because I don’t have enough ideas in my head for that. I just have feelings. And while description and straight prose in small quantities works very well for getting out feelings, you can’t write novels like that. Or short stories either. Those require plot and character development and dialogue. And maybe I could get good at those things, but I know I’d always feel so much pressure because I’m going to have to support myself with whatever I end up doing, eventually.

And I want to write because I love it, not because if I don’t get another piece finished and published I’m going to starve =P I’m really not all that interested in being published anyway (don’t get me wrong. That would ROCK. but realistically, it would cost me a lot more than it would bring me income. =P) And mostly I really like poetry, and I don’t want to write novels or the next great literature or anything. In all the studying of literature we’ve done this semester I’ve kind of realized that. These authors that we read…they had something to say to the world. An idea. Something they wanted to change. A message that was supposed to make us see from a different perspective. They wanted to tell the world something, so they wrote. but me? I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to change the world. It’s not that I think the world doesn’t need changing at all; I’m just not that kind of person. That’s not who I am. I’m the kind of person who wants to sit back quietly and watch, and then when someone gets hurt, I want to be there to hug them until they feel better. I don’t want to speak to the globe. I want to speak to individual people. And even if I only ever touch one person in my entire life, that’s ok. Because I’ll have been there for them, and that’s all that matters. I want to write a few poems that will mean something to someone, somewhere. That tell them, “hey. It’s ok. you aren’t the only one. see, I’ve been there too.” And maybe that will bring a smile back to their face. And that’s enough.

I think I can do that without being a novelist. I can do that without being famous. I can do that without being a great published author. I can do that without taking a hundred writing classes. Maybe I already have done it. I don’t know. My poetry has gone out to several different places. A contest here and there, a submission to a few online magazines and blogs, my own blog, TeenInk, things like that. Even if it’s never been recognized with any sort of award or publication, that’s ok. Because people read it. And I don’t know, maybe it didn’t mean a thing to those people, but maybe it resonated. I have emails saved from one or two who I’ve sent my work to, telling me that they read it and it touched them and to keep writing. And that’s all I want.

I tried to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I was too busy, though, so I stopped. But that’s not the real reason I stopped. I could have kept myself up half an hour later every day and done fine. I did it in November. I really stopped because I realized that I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to write that way. So maybe a writing major isn’t really what I need to do. I can love something without majoring in it. Maybe I go for an Eng/Lit major and double-minor in dance and writing. You know…maybe I’ll do that.

Because writing is beautiful. But in the long run, I think I would rather study the famous works of others than write my own famous works. I just want to sit in the corner and wait for someone out there in the world to need me, and then I’ll slip a poem into their hand quietly and give them a hug and go back to my anonymous little corner until the next person stumbles. I don’t need to see my name in the headlines or across the top of the next best-seller. I can make a difference from right where I am, right here, right now. And I can read the great literature that’s out there and see how those authors made a difference too, and maybe let them make a difference in myself.


And I really love my Lit professor, and if I declared in Eng/Lit…there’s a chance he might maybe could possibly be my adviser. Which would pretty much be…phenomenal.


22 Comments Add yours

  1. vtgrandview says:

    Oh I would have played hard to get. I would have peered over the top of my glasses, when he asked if I was staying or leaving Hope College, and I would have said, “Dr. Cole, if you can help me get more scholarship money, then I will stay at Hope College.”
    Having a professor who likes you is a good thing……..and he likes you….. :)


    1. Yes, but it’s hard to think straight and be practical about money when you want to cry/hug the professor/run around screaming. I know this from experience: )


      1. AnnaEstelle says:

        hahahahaha. You speak truth. XD


  2. Anna, this is so so so so so exciting!!! I love those huge moments of recognition….the meeting of self and the world, as Hesse says….those moments when you stretch out your hand and suddenly, suddenly there is someone there on the other side taking it, pulling you in, drawing you alongside. That’s the root of vocation, after all–to call and also to be called. It happened to me here at Hillsdale with Dr. Yaniga, three years ago. It’s a feeling like no other. So yeah, I’m super happy for you.
    And to know–you can think, can find connections, can go places in literature that other people can’t get to–and then you can bring it all together and *show* those other people the beauty you have found….THAT is the beauty of lit crit, I think. You don’t have to be a poet to do that.
    Also, your paper topic is absolutely brilliant. I’m a little envious. : ) And I can completely relate to wanting to throw yourself at random professors and give them hugs. I have yet to act on those urges…..


  3. Also, this is why being a professor, whatever the millions of cynics may say, is actually totally awesome.


    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      “I have yet to act on those urges…..”
      That’s probably for the best…*grins* =P

      and yea. I’m really excited about the paper, actually. This is pretty much the first time I’ve been really EXCITED for a big, long paper. I mean, I’ve always had fun writing my papers (once I get around to it, at least…*cough* ;) haha)…but I’ve never been super super EXCITED to do it. So yea. I’m…excited. XD =)))


  4. Dragonslayer says:

    Okay, I admit it. I got about halfway through the thing. I’ll finish it sometime, I promise =P But that’s awesome, Anna.


  5. taethiel says:

    Aww, Anna! That is awesome. =)) Maybe this is an answer to prayer, God nudging you to say that yes, this is the path you should take. Idk. But… that is awesome. =)


  6. Something you can also keep in mind: even if you decide down the road that you want an occupation in writing, you can get just about any job with a lit emphasis as you could with a writing. Most places just want to know you are proficient in your writing/analysis skills. As for writing a book, you don’t even have to be an English major. Also remember that is you have an English degree, it is a lot easier to get into a masters degree program where you could specialize in literature, professional writing, or creative writing, regardless of your undergrad emphasis.


  7. Bessie Lark says:

    That is an answer to prayer. God is such a wonderful God.


  8. Lulu says:

    I came here expecting Grace to be singing tunefully in Elvish while praising the light of Elendil and composing music in Anna’s honor, but she wasn’t.


    1. AnnaEstelle says:



    2. Bessie Lark says:

      WHAAAAT? What in the world is Tugo talking about? Don’t tell me THAT’S my reputation in the Goodling household…. =)


      1. AnnaEstelle says:

        *halo* *beams at you* 0=) I didn’t do anything…I promise. 0=) 0=) 0=)


        1. Bessie Lark says:

          *glares* Is this revenge for the envelope?


      2. Lulu says:

        That would be Anna using her annoying censoring techniques on my comments -.-


  9. Tiberius Shift says:

    *throwing in my two cents and wondering if anyone cares*

    1. I like that professor. He knows TALENT and SKILL when he sees it. 2. I think you should write. I’m not particular on the details, but I think maybe the world doesn’t need yet another world-changer writing their book. Maybe it needs someone like you. I know I like to read what you write, and that’s enough for me. =)


    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      I care. Comments make me happy. =P ..unless they’re not very nice, in which case I delete them. Unless it was Luke, in which case I edit them…*evil grin* 0=)

      Yea…I don’t think I will ever STOP writing. I just don’t think I want to make a career in it. Like, if I major in it, then I’ll feel like I have to write books or be famous to make up for spending all this money on a writing degree =P Like, it won’t be worth it if I don’t write something amazing. And that’s too much pressure and makes the writing less fun because I’ll always be dissatisfied with it because it won’t be good enough. But I think minoring in it, or taking as many classes in it as I can because I love it, will be better. That was I can learn something, and still grow my writing skillz, without feeling like I have to always be one-up-ing myself whenever I write something. But yea.
      Thanks. =)

      and actually, I generally just edit Luke’s comments anyway…it’s so much fun.
      jk. I only do it occasionally Luke. I promise. *cough* …*halo* 0=) *mischievous grin*


  10. Jacob Cullum says:

    *grins* That’s awesome, Anna.


  11. Lalaithiel says:

    I know almost everyone else said something to the extent of “that’s great,” but I’ll just say it again since you said comments make you happy. That is so great, Anna! I’m glad you found what you want to do. And now I want to read your poetry. =)



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