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Old 11-19-2013, 08:53 AM   #16
crich70
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R.L. Stevenson was one who wrote due to reason # 2 I believe. He had health problems (I think T.B. or some other breathing ailment) and had studied to be a lawyer, but due to his health he never practiced. On the other hand I think Shakespeare wrote mainly to pay the bills in his day. It was his friends who saw to it his works were collected and put into print after his death. If not for them his plays may have been lost to us long ago.
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:24 PM   #17
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5. The mercenaries. (This is not a bad thing.) They found they could sell, and they'd rather write than dig ditches, (or be locked up in a cube.) Examples are L Ron Hubbard and Lester Dent. (Or pick your own successful hack pulp writer.)
Reminds me of what Don McLean said when asked what his hit "American Pie" meant:

"It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to."
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #18
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Reminds me of what Don McLean said when asked what his hit "American Pie" meant:

"It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to."
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:43 PM   #19
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Reminds me of what Don McLean said when asked what his hit "American Pie" meant:

"It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to."


And he didn't!



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Old 11-19-2013, 06:17 PM   #20
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I think sometimes writing can be a 'mid-life crisis' thing, or simply a way to rediscover earlier joys of self-expression after the better part of a life spent doing the 'right' thing or being otherwise responsible. Our society doesn't exactly reward artistic endeavor.

However, I think the other possibility is simply that for most of us, writing (or any kind of art) needs to be refined in age. Everyone is publishing at 16, 17, and 18 now, which I think can be a bad thing, since it's hard to be original and not simply emulating (or outright plagiarizing) your influences at that age. Life experience, travel, children, and a lot of reading make for better writing. I think when we get into our late 30's things start to click and we get a better idea of what stories we want to tell, what stories continue to resonate with us, and what kind of writers we really want to be. Before that, writing is more about being famous, making money, etc. It can still be about this to many people, mind you, but I think as you turn a pivotal corner you simply want to record something and/or express yourself in a meaningful way.

In my case, I have a profession (I'm a professor) that I spent 10 years preparing for. I have a stable job which pays me decently, and I'm happy in my chosen profession. Writing is something I always did, but for the first time, I have the clarity and (occasionally) the time to actually do it correctly. I can write a story from start to finish without losing track of it. I put out my first novel recently for this very reason; it was the first work I felt 'made sense' and that I could read without pain after the passing of a year. I don't know if everyone feels this way, but for me, I needed to get to the right place mentally before I could say "okay, guys, here it is." I knew that the dust had to settle from my professional life before I could see my way through a complete work of fiction.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:23 PM   #21
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Joshua,

Ada, OK huh? Howdy from an original Okie!

I think you're right for the majority of people but I also think there are those that seem to have an intuitive understanding of human nature when very young and are quite able to write beyond their age. Examples are not coming to mind at the moment....but will think on it.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:26 PM   #22
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3. The "I want to be in the artist mix, but I can't draw/paint/sculpt/ect., but writing seems doable." Some of the twenties Paris scene writers fit this mold, and some of the American Southern renaissance writers of the 1910s, and 20s, fit that mix.
After thinking about it, I think I may be in this category. I want to create *something*, but I'm not really an artist. I can play the organ at a fairly decent level, but I'm no music composer. I can't draw, paint, or sculpt.

The one artistic thing I can do at quite an advanced level (if I so choose) is take and edit pictures, but nowadays, I don't go out too much to do that.

The reason why I've started to write a story is just because it's been in my head for quite some time, but I don't know if I'm a writer. Obviously, I haven't read ALL fantasy that's ever been written (hehe, as if...), and I'm terribly afraid that I'm writing a story that has been done before.

If there's ONE sort of critics that would make me feel bad then it's something like: "Oh, such and such scene is *exactly* as it is in Book X of Author Y, and Chapter 15 is CLEARLY a ripoff of Chapter 3 of this and that, and the main character is OBVIOUSLY based on...."; I may not actually have read the books mentioned.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:36 PM   #23
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After thinking about it, I think I may be in this category. I want to create *something*, but I'm not really an artist.
....

The reason why I've started to write a story is just because it's been in my head for quite some time, but I don't know if I'm a writer. Obviously, I haven't read ALL fantasy that's ever been written ......

If there's ONE sort of critics that would make me feel bad then it's something like: "Oh, such and such scene is *exactly* as it is in Book X of Author Y,....

I can identify with that. I often think of myself as having a creative drive, but not necessarily extensive talent in any area. I've tried and continue to try many creative avenues....my muse drags me around from photography to poetry to writing (nonfiction, fiction, poetry) to music, to songwriting to pencil art and digital art. It sucks to just suddenly be uninspired (as I currently seem to be with writing) and have the muse drag you into something else. It's like you can never focus and get better at any one thing.

As far as re-writing something that has been done before, that's very much a possibility but the actual writing, the implementation is likely to be very different....after all every story has already been told....but if you wish you could certainly run the plot/outline etc by others familiar with the genre you are writing in.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:43 PM   #24
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I think sometimes writing can be a 'mid-life crisis' thing, or simply a way to rediscover earlier joys of self-expression after the better part of a life spent doing the 'right' thing or being otherwise responsible. Our society doesn't exactly reward artistic endeavor.
You're right about not rewarding artistic endavours; it's not for nothing that there's a stigma of being poor as an artist, except for the very few happy ones.

But... a mid-life crisis in my early 30's? Euh... I hope not.

Quote:
However, I think the other possibility is simply that for most of us, writing (or any kind of art) needs to be refined in age. Everyone is publishing at 16, 17, and 18 now, which I think can be a bad thing, since it's hard to be original and not simply emulating (or outright plagiarizing) your influences at that age.
As I said above, that's actually what I'm very afraid of: plagiarizing books and characters that I don't even know that exist. In my story, I want to have a weapon created for the hero. Actually, I envision this story as a duology (at the moment, being two parts, or two books), with the first part being the quest of the creation of that weapon, and the second part being the quest to put it to use.

It's been done before, in The First King of Shannara, at least, so the weapon must be *VERY* different from the one described there. One example is:

"The Sword of Shannara" -> Terry Brooks
"The Sword of Truth" -> Terry Goodkind

The Sword of Shannara *IS* a Sword of Truth; its magic reveals truths.

I want to avoid such similarities; and I actually feel like swords are done to death.

I wish to have this hero wield two weapons... but that has been done before too. (Drizzt, Artemis Entreri, and some others I know of.) Because I want the hero to wield two weapons, the one created almost HAS to be a sword. (I'm not really an axe man, and I never heard about someone wielding two quarterstaffs...)

What sword? A Scimitar? Damn you, Drizzt. A Katana? Hm. Isn't a katana too similar to a Scimitar? And what about Miyamoto Musashi? He already wielded two katana's. A normal "western" sword? Very hard to wield two of those at once. They're not right for that.

Also, I don't write a "reluctant hero, create weapon, defeat big evil" story.

So even while making this simple decision, I already feel stuck to some extent.

The one thing I know is that my story will have A LOT of character development. And I mean Planescape:Torment-like A LOT. (If you ever played that game, you'll know what I mean.)

I'm starting to dislike fantasy novels that just go like: "Hero here, pick up weapon/talisman from there, fight-fight-fight, find evil, kill it", without a lot of character development. Character development is the number one reason why I DO like the early Drizzt novels, but I'm questioning if I should keep reading Forgotten Realms fantasy, because so many books are just quests with shallow characters to fulfill them.

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Before that, writing is more about being famous, making money, etc. It can still be about this to many people, mind you, but I think as you turn a pivotal corner you simply want to record something and/or express yourself in a meaningful way.
Indeed....

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In my case, I have a profession (I'm a professor) that I spent 10 years preparing for. I have a stable job which pays me decently, and I'm happy in my chosen profession.
If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have chosen to become a professor or university teacher. (In the Netherlands, only the head of a university faculty is called "professor".) It's too late for that now, the only thing I could hope for is attaining a promotion some day. (Studying stuff probably became my biggest hobby in the last few years.)

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Old 11-19-2013, 07:15 PM   #25
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Kennyc--always happy to meet a fellow Okie! (I'm an Okie by adoption, having moved here when I was 16 and lived here on and off for years before settling down here for good 7 years ago).

You're right, though, that some people are born with abilities, a story to tell, and an original way to tell it. Very rare. Some might cite Christopher Paolini, of Eragon fame, though in some ways he states my case: when we're young, we emulate everything we read, and I think he read and read and then transcribed a lot of Tolkein. I wonder what he might have written had he waited a decade or two to publish. But there are exceptions to the rule, I'm just not one of them, and I bet most people aren't (in the composing world, some composers, like Leos Janacek, really didn't get down to business until their 60's!).

But Katsunami, I don't think you have to have read everything--and if you do something that someone else has done (but don't realize it), that's not a sin. No one can be original, after all. The point is reading a lot and digesting what you've read, and marrying this with your own ideas and life experiences. I think a lot of young people devour everything they get their hands on and almost regurgitate it on the page. Then it's very obvious. But simply composing in a given genre will undoubtedly give rise to certain genre hallmarks or common themes: I mean, even Tolkein borrowed liberally from folklore and myth--but he had digested it to the point that he knew how to refashion it in his own image.

The fun of being a professor is that you get to live in other writers' words/worlds and teach them to the next generation. I almost consider their books MY books as I teach them. The dangerous side effect is that it makes you even more eager to write your own ideas down and shape them into something memorable. My works will never be great or probably never even sell very much, but it's the journey, not the destination. At my age, 40, I simply enjoy writing and seeing where it takes me. I'm ready to share with others much more than ever before, but it's not the overall goal. When I was 18 and first started trying to publish, the idea that I wouldn't publish creatively until I was 40 would have floored me. I probably would have given up. Youth!

I'm sure you're not having a mid-life crisis, but in America, where you're expected to graduate college by 22, have a $100K job by 24 with a house and kids, and be well on your way to retirement by 35, I think a mid-life crisis is inevitable in one's 30's! When do people get to enjoy life and express themselves beyond mowing their lawns or buying a new tie for the Christmas mixer? I think writing is a great escape valve and a way to have a rich, inner life without destroying one's marriage or leaving one's job. I'm glad so many people are finding their way back to it! It certainly saved me!
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Old 11-19-2013, 07:37 PM   #26
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I'm sure you're not having a mid-life crisis, but in America, where you're expected to graduate college by 22, have a $100K job by 24 with a house and kids, and be well on your way to retirement by 35, I think a mid-life crisis is inevitable in one's 30's!
Maybe you're right about that for the Netherlands, though the wages are lower. A $100K job would mean a salary of around €75.000. If one has a normal working life, nobody expects to ever reach a €75K per year income, except if you're lucky enough to become some sort of very important manager somewhere, or a politician. The reference income the Dutch government uses for calculations is €34K at this time, which is enough to live a normal life with a family of 4. You'll not be rich, but you won't have any problems either, provided you don't do weird things like buy an €80K car on a whim. €75K is a huge income by anyone's standards over here. Many people would actually mark you as being quite rich.

For the rest, the pattern is about the same though; graduate college at 22-23, go to work, marry the girlfriend you got to know in college, buy a house, have kids, and be "done" around 30. Then work trying to earn more money all the time, retire at 65/67, and then go please die before you become too expensive with regard to pensions and health care. (Yes, there's indeed an "Old people are expensive" vibe around these parts for some time; probably caused by all the cutbacks and the euro-crisis.)

Having no kids at my age (and actually wanting and choosing to stay single) is often seen as a "strange choice" for men, and if you're a woman, the sentiment is "avoid that one, there must be something wrong", more often than not.

I don't really like that.

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When do people get to enjoy life and express themselves beyond mowing their lawns or buying a new tie for the Christmas mixer?
I don't know. Many people I've met over the last few years seem to be of the opinion that if something does not get you any money or increase your salary, then it's not worth doing, but the Euro-crisis may have something to do with that. Everyone everywhere seems to be concerned with "Must have more money!" all the time. Nobody ever seems satisfied with having enough money.

Question: "What amount of money do you need to earn to live comfortably?"
Answer: "More."

But maybe that's just me and I'm meeting the wrong people.

If you get the feeling that I'm being quite cynical and don't like the current sentiment and opinions of people in the Netherlands, then you're quite right.

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Old 11-19-2013, 08:18 PM   #27
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Oh, it's the same all over America--especially in college. So many students are in college simply to graduate and make money. Anything that doesn't seem to lead to money or lucrative careers (in other words, all the classes I teach!) is seen as pointless hoop jumping or liberal propaganda. With the economic down turn here as well, people are understandably worried about money, but you think it would make most of us more reflective as well. If anyone can lose his/her job and no job is truly secure, then why define happiness or identity with that job? Why not try to find a vocation or career that satisfies you since, if you spend years and years getting a degree and then toil away in a job that only ends in making you redundant, what was it all worth? In a way, the less you have, the less you have to lose. It all comes back to finding things that make you happy that can't be taken away from you. Books, ideas, writing, music--these are always yours. I think that's why, in America, at least, many people are starting to write books (or read more books) as they reach that seminal age of 40. Goals have been reached (or lost), success has been achieved (or lost), so people start asking themselves, "what did I used to do for fun?" or "how the hell am I going to spend the rest of my life without wanting to kill myself?" Writing is the kind of adventure that never ends, since you're constantly exploring who you are, or how you relate to your world, or to the world of the past. Writing is a kind of reading, after all, since you're responding to everything that came before you. It's deeply satisfying and I bet a lot of students who are blowing off their English courses right now will, in 20 years time, start re-reading Shakespeare and kick themselves for not caring the first time around. But don't get me started on the problems of higher education--then you'll see how cynical I can sound! And trust me, you can't be too cynical for me...cynicism can be a healthy thing, especially when married to idealism.
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Old 11-20-2013, 07:28 AM   #28
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You're right about not rewarding artistic endavours; it's not for nothing that there's a stigma of being poor as an artist, except for the very few happy ones.

But... a mid-life crisis in my early 30's? Euh... I hope not.



As I said above, that's actually what I'm very afraid of: plagiarizing books and characters that I don't even know that exist. In my story, I want to have a weapon created for the hero. Actually, I envision this story as a duology (at the moment, being two parts, or two books), with the first part being the quest of the creation of that weapon, and the second part being the quest to put it to use.

It's been done before, in The First King of Shannara, at least, so the weapon must be *VERY* different from the one described there. One example is:

"The Sword of Shannara" -> Terry Brooks
"The Sword of Truth" -> Terry Goodkind

The Sword of Shannara *IS* a Sword of Truth; its magic reveals truths.

I want to avoid such similarities; and I actually feel like swords are done to death.

I wish to have this hero wield two weapons... but that has been done before too. (Drizzt, Artemis Entreri, and some others I know of.) Because I want the hero to wield two weapons, the one created almost HAS to be a sword. (I'm not really an axe man, and I never heard about someone wielding two quarterstaffs...)

What sword? A Scimitar? Damn you, Drizzt. A Katana? Hm. Isn't a katana too similar to a Scimitar? And what about Miyamoto Musashi? He already wielded two katana's. A normal "western" sword? Very hard to wield two of those at once. They're not right for that.

Also, I don't write a "reluctant hero, create weapon, defeat big evil" story.

So even while making this simple decision, I already feel stuck to some extent.

The one thing I know is that my story will have A LOT of character development. And I mean Planescape:Torment-like A LOT. (If you ever played that game, you'll know what I mean.)

I'm starting to dislike fantasy novels that just go like: "Hero here, pick up weapon/talisman from there, fight-fight-fight, find evil, kill it", without a lot of character development. Character development is the number one reason why I DO like the early Drizzt novels, but I'm questioning if I should keep reading Forgotten Realms fantasy, because so many books are just quests with shallow characters to fulfill them.



Indeed....



If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have chosen to become a professor or university teacher. (In the Netherlands, only the head of a university faculty is called "professor".) It's too late for that now, the only thing I could hope for is attaining a promotion some day. (Studying stuff probably became my biggest hobby in the last few years.)
Here's something for you. I can't define the weapon, but every time you use it, it erodes the weapon user's pysche. Lots of scope for character development (disintergration?). The price of saving the world is being a drooling idiot? Moorcock did this as an end of series kicker. (The Jewel In The Skull), but I'm not aware of anybody doing it as a continuing weapon feature. (Niven's Not Long before The End? Shrug?)
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Old 11-20-2013, 07:31 AM   #29
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Oh, it's the same all over America--especially in college. So many students are in college simply to graduate and make money. Anything that doesn't seem to lead to money or lucrative careers (in other words, all the classes I teach!) is seen as pointless hoop jumping or liberal propaganda. With the economic down turn here as well, people are understandably worried about money, but you think it would make most of us more reflective as well. If anyone can lose his/her job and no job is truly secure, then why define happiness or identity with that job? Why not try to find a vocation or career that satisfies you since, if you spend years and years getting a degree and then toil away in a job that only ends in making you redundant, what was it all worth? In a way, the less you have, the less you have to lose. It all comes back to finding things that make you happy that can't be taken away from you. Books, ideas, writing, music--these are always yours. I think that's why, in America, at least, many people are starting to write books (or read more books) as they reach that seminal age of 40. Goals have been reached (or lost), success has been achieved (or lost), so people start asking themselves, "what did I used to do for fun?" or "how the hell am I going to spend the rest of my life without wanting to kill myself?" Writing is the kind of adventure that never ends, since you're constantly exploring who you are, or how you relate to your world, or to the world of the past. Writing is a kind of reading, after all, since you're responding to everything that came before you. It's deeply satisfying and I bet a lot of students who are blowing off their English courses right now will, in 20 years time, start re-reading Shakespeare and kick themselves for not caring the first time around. But don't get me started on the problems of higher education--then you'll see how cynical I can sound! And trust me, you can't be too cynical for me...cynicism can be a healthy thing, especially when married to idealism.
Yes, but you usually find cynicism cheating on idealism with a little bundle of bucks on the side...
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Old 11-20-2013, 10:51 AM   #30
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Oh, it's the same all over America--especially in college. So many students are in college simply to graduate and make money.
I was in college to study stuff I liked. I'm a technical software engineer. This means that I write non-userfacing software. Think about stuff such as firmware, embedded software, website backends, and so on.

However, most of that stuff has gone out of the Netherlands; it sees to be out-sourced, or replaced by off-the-shelf software backed by half a computer instead of a microcontroller. Therefore I'm now a software engineer doing nothing of the things I studied, and I think that's a pity.

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Anything that doesn't seem to lead to money or lucrative careers (in other words, all the classes I teach!) is seen as pointless hoop jumping or liberal propaganda.
I think that this is the reason why there are so few people that have reading/writing or music or other arts as a hobby. The current society only encourages doing things that make money. Doing things just to enrich oneself is seen as something for the well-to-do who have the money to do as they please.

The problem is that to obtain money, you'll have to get it from someone who already has it. The only two ways to do that are:

1. Sell you time and knowledge to do stuff others need done, but can't do themselves.
2. Create stuff that you expect others want to have, and pay you to get it.

Most people do the first (working in a company, possibly their own), but I have a feeling that most of them would rather do the second. All of the arts are in the second group.

I think it's one of the reasons that we see a lot of 35+ authors cropping up in the Indie world: they have a job, and make money, but they're not doing what they want to. Now that publishing requires nothing more than an €450 computer and (if you want) free/open-source software, many of them seem to think that it's now viable to make a dash for it: write that story, publish it, write some more, and maybe, just maybe, hit the scene like a bombshell.

We saw the same when photography went digital and it became affordable for the masses to shoot thousands and thousands of pictures after the first investment in some decent equipment. I've worked as a freelance photographer for some time. I would never have done that if I'd had to shoot on film.

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With the economic down turn here as well, people are understandably worried about money, but you think it would make most of us more reflective as well. If anyone can lose his/her job and no job is truly secure, then why define happiness or identity with that job? Why not try to find a vocation or career that satisfies you since, if you spend years and years getting a degree and then toil away in a job that only ends in making you redundant, what was it all worth?
I feel as if I'm at this exact point right now. I have a degree, but I'm writing software of a kind I did not actually study to write. It's not that I hate my job, but it doesn't "feel right."

One thing I've always done is teaching things to others. It was my first choice; IT and programming was a hobby at first. I actually completed half a degree to become an English teacher, but was forced to quit (by the school) because I couldn't get rid of my Dutch accent.

After that I decided to make my hobby my work.

I'm doing a part-time Master now. I hope to finish it in about 4 years (it's normally a two year Master), and then I'll see if I can get a teaching position to teach what I've studied.

Then, I could teach my hobby to others. Wouldn't that be great? I wished I had known that 15 years ago. If I had, I would've probably gone for a master right away, maybe even a promotion, and would have sought out a teaching position in IT from the beginning.

However, I was heavily advised against it because salaries in the business world would be much better and it would be stupid to go for a master and a teaching position in college. Going for a Ph.D. was seen as something one shouldn't even think about if one didn't want to end up in "some low paying teaching job in the academic world".

If I had known then what I know now, then I could have said: "That 'low' pay is still WAY more than enough for me to live comfortably without any problems (it would be far more than the mentioned €34K reference income), so I'm still going to do it."

Quote:
In a way, the less you have, the less you have to lose. It all comes back to finding things that make you happy that can't be taken away from you. Books, ideas, writing, music--these are always yours. I think that's why, in America, at least, many people are starting to write books (or read more books) as they reach that seminal age of 40. Goals have been reached (or lost), success has been achieved (or lost), so people start asking themselves, "what did I used to do for fun?" or "how the hell am I going to spend the rest of my life without wanting to kill myself?"
Yes. At this point, I'm feeling as if I should be adding "something more" to this world, apart from only doing what I'm expected to do. You can say that you added something to science by getting a Ph.D., and are teaching that same science to younger people. If I continue like this, I could only say that I got a degree, got to work as I should, but in the end, anybody could have done that.

It's one of the reasons of wanting to write that story; to add something that NOT anyone could do.

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But don't get me started on the problems of higher education--then you'll see how cynical I can sound! And trust me, you can't be too cynical for me...cynicism can be a healthy thing, especially when married to idealism.
There are enough problems. I know, since I've studied to become a teacher in the past, and because I've returned to school to obtain the requirements for starting a Master. There are problems a-plenty.... most of them having to do with money.

Last edited by Katsunami; 11-20-2013 at 07:05 PM.
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