The X Factor

I miss doing Algebra.

No, really, I do.

I miss solving page-long quadratic equations. I miss the neat rows of equal signs running down the page until there was only an "X = " left of the equation. I miss knowing that there's only one way to correctly solve the problem and that I am capable of finding that solution.

After earning 84 credits towards my bachelor's degree in a little less than a year, I'm really starting to miss the finality of algebra. There aren't a myriad of perspectives to understand and/or decide between like there is whenever history or politics are concerned. You don't have to worry about identifying the ideologies, philosophies, or worldviews of different people, or trying to figure out how those ideas shaped their lives. All you have to do is solve for X.

Don't misunderstand me - I love history. I love studying historical figures and happenings. There's so much to learn from and discover about those who have lived before us. I've taken courses in Humanities, Western Civilization, U.S.History, The Soviet Union, Literature and all of them are fascinating. All of them are also almost never-ending subjects of study. One could literally spend a lifetime researching just one aspect or time period of any of the above topics.

That kind of in-depth, immersion research is part of why I write historical fiction (or, at least, that's what I'm starting with). I can combine my writing with further study and give my readers a time and/or place they haven't seen/been before. I can pick any culture from any time, study it, and then bring the past into the light of the present.

But knowing how much I don't know, knowing how much I could still study the things I've already covered in a general sense, is an exhausting idea. I think that's why I've had this hankering for Algebra. It's a finite subject. You learn it and then you're done. Sure, there's other math forms to go onto if you like (I'm still bummed that I graduated before I got to take Trigonometry) but Algebra is complete. You can put it on the shelf and know that you know all there is to know about Algebra.

I like that sense of finality, of completion.

I like being able to solve for X.


  1. It is nice when something has a definite ending, of completion. But it's also fun not to know! I can't wait for those surprises! To know when a boyfriend will become a fiancee or to know when a baby will be born. Those are great surprises and we wouldn't want to know the exact ending.

    Solving for X is fun, but the journey to get there is even better!

  2. I absolutely agree, Krista. If I wasn't up for the unknown, I wouldn't be a writer ;) There's nothing more unpredictable than that!

    I was only saying that, every once in a while, it's nice to have a "known" among all the unknowns/surprises - something solid when everything else is up in the air :)

    I like having both.

  3. Life is always unpredictable. Each day is new with small and large surprises. Some good and others well...

    Regradless of what may come on a daily basis, which adds up to a years, then decades and finally a lifetime, it is very good to know the real X-factor, Jesus Christ. There was a problem with only one solution which He provided. When He was done He said "It is finished!"

  4. ULGH. I hate math. All forms of it. Probably because I stunk at it. It may have been finite, but for me, the frustrations of figuring out what X was were infinite! Besides, who cares what X is? :) Now, if X was me landing and agent, I'd be all over discovering who X was! :)

  5. Lol, if X was landing an agent, I think we'd ALL be all over finding X :)

  6. Hi Caitlin!

    I am giving you an award, so please come by my blog and claim it. =)

  7. Caitlin, I should mention that the Goodreads giveaway of my book Prospect of My Arrival starts May 15 and ends June 15. Sorry I forgot to say that!

  8. No, you did say that, actually. In a rare moment of brilliance, I managed to miss that detail in your post, but I then I saw it on the Goodreads page. My fault, not yours :)


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