As someone who enjoys literary studies and writes in his free time, I have never regretted choosing my English major. However, there is a price to pay for following such pursuits. One of those being: the question.
"What is this dreaded question?" you might ask. Well, while many of my fellow students have a clear-cut answer memorized when confronted with "What do you want to do when you graduate?", not everyone has that luxury. As a writer, I automatically reply to the question as simply as possible, "Write."
A simple enough answer in my head, but as soon as the word leaves my mouth, I can see the dismay in the other person's eyes. There is usually a moment of awkward silence as the other person comes to the conclusion that I probably don't have any idea of where I will be in five years. After the silence, there is the usual series of what-do-you-write? or why-not-go-into-education?, which leads away from the awkwardness into some more familiar territory (often a discussion on if I follow GoT and why haven't I read the books?!).
While I have lived through probably a dozen similar exchanges, I try not to change my answer much. Because, quite frankly, I just want to write. Books, articles, fiction, poetry, and all the rest. When I say, "write," I say it because I want to do everything within the word's definition for as long as I can. And why shouldn't I?
There seems to be an implied taboo against taking writing as a career. During my freshman year, there was a running joke that I was studying to work at McDonald's when I graduated. Even in my second year, one of my professors made the comment that the public should not worry about unemployed English majors becoming a burden on society because most of them starve in the first few years out of school. But at the same time, I was given the advice, "If you are going to be a writer, take yourself seriously." That sentence changed the way I looked at my future prospects. Needless to say, I was mostly assured that I wasn't going to starve anytime soon.
So, the other question, less financially focused of course, but just as important. "Why do you want to write?" Truth be told, anyone can write. Hell, there are thousands of non-literary people who are excellent writers. So, if anyone can do it anyway, why bother? The answer, "Because I don't want to do anything else." In practicing this craft, (yes, it is a craft that can be developed and refined) I have learned a great deal about myself and how I interact with others. I have learned that writing is a lonesome process, that being surrounded by other people becomes a major distraction. On the other hand, I have learned that I run dangerously close to insanity if I isolate myself from people I care about for too long.
Writing forces one to walk the line between hermit and socialite. Without people, you can write. With people, you get to experience life, which, in turn, gives you raw material for ideas. Writing is very weird. Weird and terrifying and wonderful...but for some reason that I can't quite place, there is nothing else I'd rather do.