There is always time to write, right?

I am ashamed. I sit typing this blog two days before it will post. Less than two days, in fact. Forty-seven and a half hours. Normally, we try to have posts completed for editing two weeks before they go live. This is the first time I have failed.

I’ve always been a proponent of a blue-collar writing mindset. R.L. Naquin calls me the terminator, because I write at a consistent pace without stopping, without giving in to distraction. So, why is it that I have broken my cardinal rule of always meet your deadline? I didn’t have time.

But there is always time for writing. I say it. Everyone here will say it this week. Every author you ever meet will say you have to make the time. I still stand by it, and even if it is stretching a bit, I will argue that my time has been spent writing, just not the actual typing part of it.

I began a Master’s program studying literary theory and criticism last summer. I knew I would be sacrificing a lot of writing time, but I had hopes that in the end, it would be worth it. Some of the greatest writers have also been literary critics. This includes Henry James, Oscar Wilde, John Gardner, Leo Tolstoy, Margaret Atwood, Ralph Ellison and Anthony Burgess. Edgar Allen Poe was more successful as a critic during his life than he was with his creative writing.

It seems less common in recent times, as graduate-level English academia has largely split into MFA students, who study writing, and MA students, who study literature.

That being said, I’ve always been a bit old school. John Gardner has always been an influence for me, and his feelings were that writers should study literature, rather than just writing. As such, I am giving it a shot.

In the past two weeks, when I should have written this, I’ve read three books, a couple dozen articles on criticism, written about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown from both Russian Formalism and Structuralism perspectives, and have discussed The String of Pearls (the original Sweeney Todd story) as it relates to Sweeney Todd as a metaphor for social fears, the rise of the middle-class in 19th century London, and the dangers of capitalism without ethics.

Add in my responsibilities at my day job, which is fifty hours a week, and being a father and boyfriend, and there hasn’t been time for much else. I should be done with my Master’s degree after the Summer of 2014, but until then, time is always going to be tight.

Still, I hope that in the end it will be worth it, and I will come out of the two years as a better writer, and perhaps contribute my own criticism. Until then, I take the same approach to literature that I take to writing. Get the work done, do it well, and hope for the best. In the meantime, you can always fine me here.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at

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