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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Ivan Goncharov’s 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


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.


Humbled freelance writer extraordinaire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s