The teacher hands me the paper. Oh no, not another essay I whisper under my breath. The thought of typing and researching and commentary makes my head spin as I struggle to imagine the next two weeks. Slowly I lower my eyes and read the prompt. Okay, I can write this. The topic is not that hard. Actually, it is quite easy. Yes, I can do this. When I finally convince myself the essay is not as hard as I thought I move on and start planning.
However, my planning is not outlining my essay and thinking through my plan. The process is much more basic.
When I come home after school I put the essay to the side and do all my easier homework. Finally, I finish my math and the horrible physics problem set. I turn toward the prompt paper and stare at the white sheet for a moment. Sheer terror occurs again as I cannot remember the confidence I had built up in class. Ah, I put the thoughts in the far back of my mind, but as I drag them forward, the butterflies dissipate and I am ready to write. I do not plan my essays, but as Colette from Casual Chance said, I “Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your heard and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” I start writing anything that comes into my head that seems to follow the prompt. I stop writing as I remember I have to write a thesis. Before I write the most important sentence of my paper, I look through my book which the prompt is based on and find my evidence. One quote is found, and another and another. I have three quotes and can base my thesis on that evidence. There, a thesis written. I move on and continue typing word after word on my computer.
The keys clicking keeps me awake and the thought of finishing strengthens my resolve. I put every thought that appears in my head on that paper because I need to fill up the required three to five page limit. I know I can always delete and change my essay. Suddenly, I stop in the middle of writing. I have lost all thought and am completely blank. I know I must put down everything in my head; I reread my paper and as I read, a new sentence forms in my head. The rest of the essay flows smoothly. I write assertion, evidence and commentary. The commentary is the hardest I discover because I must relate my analysis back to my evidence and thesis. I persevere and as I finish the paper, a small smile finds a way on my mouth. I am pleased I am finished.
I know the hardest part has yet to occur. I press save and then print. The paper gets stuck in the printer. After I struggle with my printer—why can they never work!—I look at what I printed. Grabbing a red pen, I sit down at my desk and start reading. Though I know I should read out loud, I forget and miss many mistakes. I judge my work, like Colette says, I “without pity, destroy most of it.” I look down and my essay is covered in red pen. Well, time to fix my paper. Walking back to my computer, I fish for the prompt which has seemed to have mixed in with the abundance of papers on the floor. After finding the piece I need, I fix the essay on my computer. I know my first edit was only grammar editing. The next destruction of my paper is the hardest because the prompt and the commentary have to match the instructions and my thesis. Glancing at my thesis I check that the sentence answers the question given by the teacher. A success in my books is reprinting my paper without any annoying printer errors. My red pen flies across the page less than before as I reread over the assignment.
I let the paper sit on my desk. I do not look at the prompt nor my typed words. Allowing for that wait period keeps me sane because I am not obsessing over proper English, following the prompt, or perfect grammar. I can relax and let the assignment hang in the back of my head. Finally, I read over the essay again. This time, I feel like an author; however, I know my work is not down. Colette would be disappointed if I stopped before I finished. After I print a new copy, I sit down with my pen and I look for spelling, misplaced modifiers, dangling sentence, and anything my English teacher would not approve of in a paper.
Suddenly, I see a whole section of commentary that make no sense. I sprint to my computer and delete, delete, delete. I sit thinking for a while before inspiration strikes like lightening in my mind. As I type the smile returns. This is the way the evidence fits the thesis. I reprint and reread one more time. The essay looks good, but I ask my mother to read through, just in case I missed something, before I turn the paper into my teacher. She reads and I follow her suggestions.
This has not taken me one day, but many days, broken up by school and periods of no inspiration. When the assignment is due; however, I am finished and turn in the paper with a smile. No matter my grade, I am happy with the result.
I am not only a writer, but have evolved into an author. I see my mistakes and fix them. My work is not perfect even if I receive an A on the essay. I know I can always improve. However, I most always remember, the only way to improve is to look at my work without pity and destroy most of the paper.
The next day, I receive a prompt for a new book. This time, I am ready.