Just Like Poe

As I was strolling through the library noncommittally, I saw a book that was, being new, on display. The cover spoke to me, and as much as they say not to judge books by their covers, I do so when the covers speak to me. The book is a delight to the senses. The cover art is gorgeous, it’s a hardback, and it’s the perfect size, and best of all, it smells amazing. Although I am not sure why, it took me a while to actually read The Raven’s Tale after I checked it out and brought it home. I think maybe I wanted to admire the cover a little more before I cracked the book open.

The Raven’s Tale is a fictional account of the life of Edgar Allan Poe as a youth. Cat Winters has obviously done her research on Poe’s life, and she has knit together a delightful treat. When I read books, I do not read them merely for entertainment, I read them for learning also. I can’t help it, that just happens to be the way that my brain works. I picked this up at just the right time, as I am trying to follow my passion and find my purpose.

I have started accepting that I am a creative person, even when I don’t necessarily feel creative. My brain never shuts down, thinking deep thoughts and making connections. Although I, like Poe in The Raven’s Tale, have often despised that part of me, it’s something I am learning to embrace. Just like Poe realized the importance of his muse, which he named Lenore, I have realized the importance of mine. Poe quickly found out that without his muse, he was not a whole person. As I walk my journey towards wholeness, I need to embrace who I am.

Part of who I am is a deeply emotional thinker. I make connections that other’s don’t make. My mind is always on going a million miles an hour. Writing is how I process my life and make sense of things. Writing and creativity are a huge part of who I am. I have often despised being called a “deep thinker” as many people have used it in a mocking way. The more I allow myself to be who I was created to be, the more my passion comes out and the more alive I feel.

In The Raven’s Tale, there came a point at which Poe thought he would die without his muse, and I understand that feeling. While I am not in danger of physical death if I don’t pursue my creativity, a part of who I am dies inside of me. Seeing as this story is based on Poe’s life story, I feel deeply connected to Poe. Poe’s heartbreak lead to some beautiful literature, and although The Raven’s Tale is a fictional account, it’s all based on facts. The book is exquisite, and important reading for creatives.

As beauty emerged from darkness in the life of Edgar Allan Poe, I notice the beauty also emerging from darkness in my own life as I continue to write and continue to learn. One day I will make a meaningful contribution both in my writing and in academia. I know I will, the muse is here to stay. Just as Poe eventually embraced his muse, so I embrace mine. It’s part of who I was meant to be all along.

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Creative Academic

Today I had a very good conversation with my academic advisor. I love academia, I want to pursue my academic interests and make contributions in my field. I also happen to be a creative rather than practical person. I’m learning that it takes both types to make the world go round but that often, practical people are better understood than creative people.

I see memes on Facebook saying how college is useless and that trade school is where it’s at, which is false. Trades are very important, trade school is very important, but not all of us were made to excel in trades. The same goes for college. College is important because we need academics as well. Trades are physical labor and academics are emotional labor.

When I finished my M.A in English and Creative Writing, I wasn’t sure what to do next, and although I wanted and still want a Ph.D. so bad, now is not the right time to pursue that. So I went into a M.A in Communications, because I wanted to learn how to market my work. People were telling me how good they thought my work was and how the themes and ideas I explored were very important, and yet like many other writers I’m having difficulty getting published. I figured maybe I needed better branding and marketing, so I thought that communications might be the right fit.

It turns out that I was wrong. The entire culture is different in communications, and it’s far more business focused than it was when I took communications electives in my undergrad. I found that in my communications classes, none of the other students would talk to me, even in discussions, but they all talk regularly with each other. Maybe they knew right away that I did not fit in. The odd thing is that I have gotten excellent grades but the culture isn’t working for me and I need to be able to be excited about my ideas and talk about my ideas with others which is impossible if they won’t talk to me.

In the conversation with my advisor, I shared with her how I didn’t like the culture and I didn’t fit in, but that the communications classes I had taken made me aware of where my passions were. I have literary contributions I want to make as well as working on my writing. My advisor said she wasn’t really surprised because creative people like me often did not do well in more business focused programs and careers even if, like me, they get good grades. She said that those kinds of things often aren’t right for creatives and sometimes they are even stifling.

She went on to tell me that creatives are as important to academia as the practical people, and that we all make important contributions. For me, academics are important for some because of the need to keep learning, keep making connections, etc. This was so affirming to me to realize. I’m not a lesser person because I want to pursue academics, it’s part of who I am, who God created me to be. I have this need to continue learning new things, to continue to think deeply and make connections that other people might not make. It is my passion, it makes me come alive.

God is the one who instilled this passion in me. God wants me to pursue my passion. God wants me to be the person God created me to be.

(And for the curious, I’m going into English Literature).