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Procrastination Essay

1362 words - 6 pages

3:30 A.M. finds me in front of a glowing computer screen yet again. I’m waiting for inspiration. My friends, kind enough to let me use their dorm room and their Macintosh, are asleep in their beds just feet away in the half-darkness, reaping the rewards of their wisdom: they haven’t waited until the night before like I have. I take swigs of Mountain Dew from a plastic mug; it’s the sweet nectar of the Gods of Last-Minute Paper Writing. No, make that bittersweet nectar -- the taste of sugary green goodness reminds me, with every swallow, that I’ve sentenced myself to another unnecessary all-nighter. I have few ideas and even less time… 

The blinking computer cursor on an otherwise empty ...view middle of the document...

It was my response to an assignment to write “a book”; about thirty handwritten pages, it was made up of two separate stories about young people with super-powers. I was at the time a huge fan of a comic book (recently popularized on film) called “The X-Men”, about a group of people born with strange powers who fought for good even though they were feared and hated by the public. I’ve come across my sixth-grade book in years since, and it’s derivative in a way that makes me cringe, but it does have vocabulary and a message about tolerance that I don’t think I’d have learned if not for those comic books. I’m pretty sure that no first draft of that assignment was required, or, if it was, I’m pretty sure I managed to somehow get out of it. But still the story received a grade of “A”. And I think I wrote it all in one day (all-night writing was still a few years away). So my process, whatever it was, was set fairly early on. 

In those years of comic-book obsession, I was sure I wanted to write comics “when I grew up”. And I tried a little at the time, but a regular habit of writing never took hold. I think, though, that a notion of myself as a writer did. Surely this was fueled by the fact that my written work for school was well received. And that being the case, I think I also decided that being a writer must not take much time - just one session per project! As I continued through high school, this was certainly the norm for me. An exception was a senior-year creative-writing class that had daily journal entries as a requirement. This didn’t lead to me continuing a journal once the semester ended, nor did it lead to more regular writing of any sort for me. But thinking about it now does make me wonder about what might have happened if the habit of regular informal writing had been ingrained earlier. 

My own habits changed little as I proceeded through college; early drafts were still rarely a requirement, although I did encounter a class or two requiring frequent short response papers. But a creative-writing class I took in my junior year typifies much of the college writing experience for me. We were really only required to attend the class, not to write. Our professor was an American woman who had published one or two critically well-regarded novels while living in Paris in the late 1960s. She was fascinating and amusing and her rambling diatribes to us on every conceivable topic surely taught us things about life that are integral to writing, but actual mandatory written product from students was in short supply. Brief exercises during the semester were, it turned out, basically optional, and we merely had to turn in a final short story of some (any?) sort to...

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