When it’s time to admit defeat

I’m in my final year of studying with the Open University.

I chose to finish my degree with AA316 – 19th Century Liteature.

I knew going in that there were books on the list which were not to my taste but I figured that was fine, you don’t have to like every book on a reading list. I should have listened to my doubts because I’ve struggled. Really struggled. I have an essay due on Thursday which asks me to compare & contrast the portrayal of women in Germinal by Emile Zola and Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I got through Germinal, didn’t like it it (it makes me think of stories children tell “this happened, then this happened, then I did this, and he said this but I said this and then this happened and there was an alien and…”) and I’m only eight chapters into Far From the Madding Crowd but already my heart is sinking because it’s another romantic-made-for-TV-movie. In addition to the books we have a book of critical responses to the books and many of them I don’t understand. I just don’t, and I’m not that stupid. The next assignment asks for Portrait of a Lady, Woman in White and Madame Bovary. Only one of those I’ve read before.

The idea of doing an exam on books I’ve barely got through and critics I’ve barely understood is filling me with much more than dread. It’s also filling all my free time. I’ve not read a non-OU required book in so long and whenever I’m not at home reading OU stuff I feel guitly, and I want to enjoy myself more. Today I had some plans to get up early and go swimming but I ended up hiding in bed until I really had to get up and start my day…by reading critical essays of a book I’ve not yet finished in order to write an assignment I don’t understand.

So I’ve listened to myself and decided to that the best thing to do is to withdraw and end my degree with a module I’m going to enjoy….or at least one I’m not going to go stir crazy finishing. Hopefully Advanced Creative Writing as I enjoyed and did quite well in my Creative Writing module. I think this may mean I have to change my degree pathway from just English Literature to English Literature & Creative Writing, which if I’m honest I should have done from the start.


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