Every struggling new writer who has just earned a B.A. in English needs a dose of the career advice E. B. White once gave me. He had very definite views on how to write—what to write about and then—how to get it in print.
Since Andy really didn’t like his first name, Elwyn, he always asked his friends to use his nickname “Andy” although the byline on all of his stories, articles, essays, poems and books listed him as E. B. White.
Today, children may be the only readers who truly appreciate E.B. White for his excellent stories. E.B. White’s children’s books have lived on past his death in 1985. Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, are still very popular.
Some students currently in college probably know that E. B. White had a strong grasp on the rules of grammar and usage, but’s that all they know about him. In 1959, White took on a freelance project to revise William Strunk’s classic grammar guide, The Elements of Style. From then on the slim little book credited two authors “Strunk and White.” Andy revised it in 1972 and 1979. …
Life as an English major isn’t as easy as people might think. Sure, we read books and
discuss them while math majors slave away at finding the derivatives of multi-variable
equations, but just because one sounds easier than the other doesn’t make it necessarily
true. Four of the girls I live with are business/math majors and they are constantly on
my back for doing nothing but reading chapter four of Frankenstein for the fifth time
while they pull allnighters and skip classes to study for their next accounting class.
In fact, they take it one step further by even saying that there is no real use for reading
those books and writing pointless explanatory papers and that the only reason I have
chosen this route in college is to “take the easy way out.” I am setting out to prove once
and for all that being an English major is one of the most difficult and one of the most
rewarding majors that one can choose while in college.
The simplest complaint that non-English majors have to make about us is our homework
load. No, we don’t slave over our calculators or stay overnight in the lab dissecting a
specimen, but we have just as much (if not more) of a homework load.…