Friday, November 30, 2012


I'm currently taking a six-week course, and I had to write an academic paper (the first I've had to write since college) for this week's class. It was astounding how all of the old, terrible habits came right back: waiting until the last possible moment to write it, waiting until I was finished writing to double-space (with that corresponding intake of breath as you wait to see if you've in fact surpassed the page limit), the reliance on my old crutches (the word "pervasive," a flagrant excess of semicolons, etc.). Even hooking up my laptop to my printer, which I've used only a dozen or so times since I moved to New York, brought back bleak memories of print cartridge smudges and error messages.

Of course, not everything's the same. I started to write a "concluding paragraph," but then stopped and deleted it, and turned in the paper without one. Some four years out of college, the idea of tying an overly broad, adjective-laden bow on a paper -- even an innocuous three-pager for a six-week class -- seemed completely ludicrous, so much so that it made me wonder how I churned those silly little conclusions out week after week for so many years without degenerating into some kind of automaton and then into dust.