After listening to the wonderful Rita Kelly speak today about her work, there is one thing in particular that stood out to me. When writing—and all writing is creating—you must believe in what you are doing. Although much of her work is creative writing, and she displays her beliefs and emotions through short stories and poetry, this mindset can be applied to academic writing as well. I intend to make my thesis something that I am passionate about and something that I believe is important to talk about. I just have to figure out what exactly that topic is.
When I think of passion and love for one’s own work, there is a quote that often pops into my head. Although it is from a novel that I read quite recently, it is a quote that I know will stick with me for many years to come. In John Williams’ Stoner, the novel’s titular character begins immersing himself in literature after he takes a required sophomore seminar. Something that he wasn’t initially interested in now occupies his free time completely. He’s unsure what to do with his degree, but he enjoys his studies so immensely that he continues to take English courses even though he has no idea what he will do after he graduates. However, a conversation with his professor clarifies his next steps.
“‘But don’t you know, Mr. Stoner?’” Sloane asked. “‘Don’t you understand about yourself yet? You’re going to be a teacher.’
Suddenly Slaone seemed very distant, and the walls of the office receded. Stoner felt himself suspended in the wide air, and he heard his voice ask, ‘Are you sure?’
‘I’m sure,’ Sloane said softly.
‘How can you tell? How can you be sure?’
‘It’s love Mr. Stoner,’ Sloane said cheerfully. ‘You are in love. It’s simple as that.’”
I sometimes have trouble honing in on what I’m truly passionate about, and I often find myself in a position where I lack confidence when assembling my own academic work. I’d like to look at this quote from John Williams’ novel as a sort of motivation, allowing myself the space and time to work through various authors and time periods to discover what ignites within me that sort of love that the speaker mentions in the quote above. I think if I make that the initial step the execution of my thesis, I’ll create something that I enjoy and something that I’m proud of.