Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RemembeRED: Deadline

Prompt: In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

I stared at the white sheet of paper ensnared in my Smith-Corona typewriter.

It was the night before my research paper was due.

That page was as blank as my mind.

I had a topic: F. Scott Fitzgerald and the parallels of his life to his novels. I had checked out all the books, compiled all the research, completed my index cards with the correct citations. I just had no intention of actually writing the paper. I felt that it was a stupid assignment*.

My senior English teacher had informed me that morning that if I did not turn in this assignment, I would not be walking the stage at graduation. It was a major grade and a zero in a major grade was an automatic failure. While I didn't really care about walking the stage, anything that interfered with my college career would not be acceptable to my parents. I said a bad word under my breath as I left the classroom.

Now, I said that word again as I stared at that blinding whiteness.

Just like that, a research paper became everything.

I barricaded myself in my room with the family typewriter. It was electric, and it had one of those balls with all the letters on it. It was shiny, which was distracting even then. And it 'self' corrected!

Twenty minutes later, I still had the white paper staring at me.

I finally typed something. It was my name, my teacher, and the date.

Still, I felt this was a good start. Then my teenager brain figured out that I just had to complete the assignment. It didn't matter what grade I got, only that I finished. So I finished the assignment without thinking much about it at all.

I got an A. So much for thinking!

*I was, and still am, one of those people who need to understand the necessity of a task before doing it. I need the WHY before anything else. If I don't see a point to it, I don't want to do it. This one 'minor' character flaw gave my teachers raging fits, but the way I saw it, if a teacher couldn't explain the 'why' then it wasn't worth learning. I have stubbornness issues.


  1. I can so, so relate to the -ahem- stubbornness issues.

    i love that your moment included a typewriter. I'm sappy like that.

    Also? I love that you ended up with an A! Sometimes things just work out like that, don't they?

  2. I could really see you sitting, staring at the typewriter with all the research done but no desire to actually write the paper!

    I'm totally with you on wanting to know WHY. Even now, although my sense of job preservation keeps it in check to some extent, I still get irritated when someone wants me to do something but they can't tell me why.

  3. I am the exact same. I need to know what's the point and why we're doing this.

  4. I loved this because I saw so much of myself in it, I have the ideas, the knowledge, but not the drive...I procrastinate, I worry, I fret, I push against it...and normally when I do all that, that A's come..when I tried to be a "good student' get things done earlier etc...B's. Go figure!

    I could feel the angst and then the surrender of this. It was so good.

  5. Well done. I always had a hard time doing mindless things we were at school. 99% of it seemed so pointless....sigh.

  6. The whiteness of paper can be world stopping--Glad your world moved on. Re-reading post coffee, I caught on to your point about over-thinking a thing. Over-thinking is more powerful than the specter of blank white paper when it comes to not writing. True, true, true.

  7. yup, i'm one of those people, too. :)

  8. I love how we procrastinate as teens (and adults, I still do!). We just had so many more important things going on. Right? It's lovely that you struggled with writing then and now are doing it regularly. It was knocking at your door even then.

  9. I once wrote a fake paper (fake quotes, fake sources, etc) because I thought it was a silly assignment. I also got an A. I guess it was writing?

    I loved the details you used, the typewriter, even the description of the typewriter ball, how your parents wouldn't be ok with a failing grade.


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