Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Procrastinator Wins Again!

I have now officially finished the longest term paper I have ever written. Fifteen pages double spaced on the symbolism of "red" in four novels.

Yes, I have a BA in BS: I can write fifteen pages about one color.

I know I've been assigned eight or ten page papers as an undergrad (I tended to run short of ten as it was a scary two digit number), and I believe I was even assigned a twenty page paper for which I turned in ten pages and still got a B. (New professor that had just transferred from UNLV; he was just impressed that we handed in papers.) But never have I had to write a paper this long. Which is as it should be; I'm in grad school now.

The real measure of the woman though is not how many pages but how many hours. Twenty hours. That is, I had an idea and had annotated the novels when I first read them, from there I started typing those quotes into the word document at 9:00 p.m. Sunday night. I slept for seven hours and then at 5:00 pm Monday I turned the thing in.

I'm still in shock.

As I was typing I was certain I'd fall short on time or length. That I'd skip a conclusion. That I'd be doomed for sure. But twelve hours of butt-time within a twenty hour period seem to have worked just fine.

This is very bad news on the "prepare ahead of time" front. Because the more certain I am in my last minute capabilities the less likely I am to do work ahead of time.

Happy News: Melanie Haney got a very special Good Friday surprise. What a cute photo. Bet she spent more than twenty hours getting that guy ready.

Margosita wrote a nice post yesterday on blogs vs. personal essays. I particularly like the article she quotes that says the writer should start writing about something she hasn't figured out and figure it out through the course of the essay. That's what I think I've started doing with a post last week (it's the beginnings of a personal essay); I'm thinking about it, but I haven't found the the answers I need from it to make a truth just yet.


wrtsmith said...

Procrastination was how I passed most of my classes in college. For an economics class, we had to keep a daily journal of thoughts about economics and hand it in halfway through the semester. I started and finished mine the night before it was due. Two weeks later, the professor singled mine out as an example the rest of the class should follow. It was the second time my fiction had gotten such praise.

Jud said...

You are in grad school and the longest paper you ever had to write was 15 pages? Wow. We were getting pummeled then when I was in school.

Congrats on getting it down. I enjoy deadlines myself.

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

Jud: the truth is that I don't think the profs wanted to spend that much time reading longer papers. And I don't blame them for that.

As an undergrad 10 pages was the cumulative project for most classes

... and our senior seminar was 30 pages, BUT I majored in creative writing so I did a 60 page novella and got to skip the academic paper.

Jolie said...

This is very bad news on the "prepare ahead of time" front. Because the more certain I am in my last minute capabilities the less likely I am to do work ahead of time.I was always the same way in undergrad, even in my fiction workshops. I could bang out a short story in one night and be decently pleased with it for workshop purposes, even if I knew it could use a lot of work.

I've been trying to cure my procrastination since graduating--starting projects well ahead of time at my job, working on my fiction gradually, etc. I think I'm more disciplined now, but I'm sure my first MFA year will still kick my ass.

Margosita said...

As a devoted procrastinator myself, this is a very encouraging post!

I think I've almost accepted this. I feel envious of people who have steady work habits. But it's the same kind of envy I have for people who always show up at the grocery store in good looking outfits. I'd like to look that put together, but the jeans I wore yesterday and a worn out hoodie are just easier.

I think your post from last week will make a really interesting essay!

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