‘You have to promise me you will stop asking me about what I am writing.’
This request surprised Sid. It had been going on for months. When we worked, he continually made me talk about Shakespeare and Milton. I’d been working on a dry tome of literary criticism and for some reason Sid was fascinated by it.’
‘Look, I never wanted to write this book in the first place,’ I explained. ‘But now I have no choice. No book, no job—that’s how you get tenure. And when I come out here I just don’t want to think about it.’
‘How can talking about Shakespeare and Milton depress you?’ he said. ‘You always loved books. You always wanted to be a writer—now you are writing a book. How can that be depressing?’
‘Because I never wanted to write this kind of book, okay? I wanted to write the great American novel, be the great American writer. Not become some professor who writes incomprehensible criticism that no one wants to read. Look at you. You wanted to set a record at Bonneville. Well, sometimes our dreams don’t come true. Just leave me alone when it comes to that stuff and let me do what I have to do.’
I looked at him and knew: now he got it.
From here. There are other interesting ideas in the post — like, for example, why it might not be an accident that
many academics have passions outside of their teaching lives that animate them more than their primary work.
Take a look!