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By Ann Patchett

Based on her lauded graduation deal with at Sarah Lawrence collage, this stirring essay by way of bestselling writer Ann Patchett deals desire and thought for a person at a crossroads, even if graduating, altering careers, or transitioning from one lifestyles degree to a different. With wit and candor, Patchett tells her personal tale of attending university, graduating, and being affected by the inevitable query, What now?

From scholar to line cook dinner to instructor to waitress and finally to award-winning writer, Patchett's personal lifestyles has taken many twists and turns that make her exploration actual and resonant. As Patchett writes, "'What now?' represents our pleasure and our destiny, the very energy of life." She highlights the probabilities the unknown deals and reminds us that there's as a lot pleasure within the trip as there's in achieving the destination.

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We’re unlikely to get the treaties signed. yet novelists are geniuses by way of bushes. We’re first-class at staying nonetheless and seeing what comes subsequent. humans prefer to inform me i've got a glamorous existence, and perhaps it’s real. i used to be as soon as the reply on Jeopardy! (The very toughest resolution within the backside field, and not anyone knew the query: who's Ann Patchett? ) yet i might say that my every year consumption of glamour averages out to be approximately one hour per 30 days, and that incorporates giving speeches. Now that’s now not undesirable; a lot of people don’t get at any place as regards to an hour a month. yet as for the remainder of my time, the task I’m probably to be engaged in is staring. If staring ever turns into an Olympic occasion I’ll be bringing domestic the gold. whereas people visit paintings, I stare out the window. I stare at my puppy. I stare at clean items of paper and paragraphs and unmarried sentences and a humming monitor. Hours and hours of my day are spent with my eyes glazed over, considering, ready, attempting to determine issues out. the foundation is a candy inspiration, just like the enamel fairy. the foundation supposedly comes down like lights and fills your arms with the required voltage to kind up whatever significant. yet not anyone ever made a residing counting on a muse. the remainder of us need to exit and locate our concept, write and rewrite, stare and stare and stare till we all know which technique to flip. I dated my husband for 11 years earlier than I married him. It used to be the staring that made me so hesitant. I simply couldn’t think residing in a home with someone else whilst quite a bit of my lifestyles was once spent sprawled around the couch, eyes vast open, asserting not anything in any respect. not anything in any respect is especially a lot out of favor nowadays, as are stillness, silence, and studied attention. Studied attention is difficult to come back via with these little iPod buds crammed on your ears and the cellular phone competing with the net. probably we stay away from the quiet simply because we’re afraid that the reply to What now? will develop into I don’t understand. baby that i used to be, i assumed admission to school had enabled me to scrub my fingers of uncertainty. Then, throughout the moment semester of my junior yr, a few insensitive idiot struck the 1st drumbeat that later rose to a deafening tattoo: What are you going to do after collage? they desired to recognize. What now? What now? What now? Did they suggest, What now as in, What activity will you practice for? What precisely are you certified to do? while I graduated I knew i needed to be a novelist, yet the place used to be the advert within the paper for that one? “Novelist sought after: might be in a position to stare. gentle typing required. ” What attempt may possibly I take that will end up I had accomplished the mandatory course-work? What internship could provide me a leg as much as be a extra winning author? It wasn’t simply that I couldn’t locate the major to the door, I couldn’t locate the door. I batted round like a shuttlecock after commencement, and while I had exhausted my constrained assets I moved domestic to Tennessee and bought a task as a line cook dinner. Oddly sufficient it grew to become out to be the only factor for which I had reliable skills.

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