A Formal Apology to the Literature I Refused to Learn From

Dear literature I refused to learn from,

You were written with the intent of teaching me valuable lessons, and I haven’t learned anything. It isn’t because I haven’t ruminated on your messages. In fact, I think it’s all I do day in and day out. It must be simply because I’m stubborn. In short, your themes were acknowledged, then quickly ignored.

Here are some of the stories I should have taken a page or two from…

Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

desire

What I should have learned: Imagination does not conquer reality.

What I did instead: What’s that? Sorry… I was too busy buying myself gold dresses and daydreaming a happier otherworld.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

punishment

What I should have learned: Do not let your pride separate you from society; you will become isolated.

What I did instead: Made a cocoon out of books! Someday I will turn into an intellectual butterfly and need no one!

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

prej

What I should have learned: Once again, do not let pride separate you from society. The love of your life may make a poor first impression!

What I did instead: Put a whole lot of stock into first impressions. Go out with the cute militia officer. What’s the worst that could happen? He’s really quite charming…

Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles

chron

What I should have learned: Don’t let Scoop use you, no matter how much you like him. Come to terms with the fact that your ideals may fade out of fashion.

What I did instead: Scoop, if you’re reading this, please unfollow my blog immediately. You’re not welcome in these parts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of feminist writing to get to.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

lo

What I should have learned: Don’t let obsessions rule your life.

What I did instead: Found the loophole. Became obsessed WITH Lolita. I’ve been writing essays about it for years now!

Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac

cyrano

What I should have learned: Stop hiding behind clever or beautiful words from afar and simply TELL someone if you like them.

What I did instead: Basically the opposite of that. Every damn time.

Steven Dietz’ Becky’s New Car

becky

What I should have learned: You can’t have it all.

What I did instead: Insisted I could, ruining everything.

Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov

oblomov

What I should have learned: Never indulge in your own slothfulness.

What I did instead: Got sad. Slept in until 12:30 PM every Saturday.

Gabriel García Márquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera

lovesucks

What I should have learned: Let it go already. Don’t wait 55 years, five months, four days, three hours and two minutes… and definitely don’t have 622 love affairs while thinking about someone else.

What I did instead: Texted my crush and googled “flights to Colombia” in the time it took for him to respond.

So yes, I formally apologize. I am sorry.

I am sorry that I haven’t learned anything.

I am sorry that I didn’t realize it sooner.

Most of all, I am sorry that, despite knowing it would make me a better writer and person, I seem to consistently be incapable of internalizing the wisdom granted to me by these great works of fiction.

I will try to do better… even if it means coming to terms with the fact that I am the villain of all of my favorite books.

Sincerely,

Humbled freelance writer extraordinaire

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