It’s done. Finally. Good, bad or otherwise, the deadline has passed and a passable term paper has been turned in. I finished the last proof and made minor corrections at about 3:30 a.m. Is it good? I never know anymore. I used to be able to tell if I nailed it; I would know if I had everything the instructor was looking for. I think it’s ok - only ok. However, and recent experience tells me so, it stands a very good chance of receiving a high grade.
But it will surprise me - again. I don’t want to come across as self-deprecating, or worse, self-pitying for I know beyond any shadow of doubt that woe is not me. I’m not looking for reassurance or a boost of confidence. The fact is that in my own mind, this paper could have been better. Not better written perhaps, although the actual writing counts for a lot, but better researched. It might (or might not) have benefited from a few more days. They are days I had available - repeatedly - that I did not use.
But I couldn’t. It’s not because I was busy on other projects. I was, but they didn’t take anywhere near all of my time. It’s not because of a lack of resources. It’s because I’m not built that way. This is not news to me. I have been procrastinating all of my life. After years and years of practice, I’m pretty good at it. I’m not trying to be funny (much), I’m serious; I have become good at procrastination. I am making it work for me.
Because of the sheer number of words I have written, the different types of writing I have done and both meeting and missing deadlines, I can make a fairly accurate assessment of the time a given project will take. By allowing just enough time and identifying where time can be shaved if something unexpected were to come up, I can meet a deadline while still maintaining the pressure necessary to push the project through. However, it is a balancing act and it works better for some forms of writing than others.
I have written a number of term/research papers in the last three or four years. They have all been about the same length and, for the most part, are of restricted depth because of the length… about ten pages or 3,000 words. These papers can be written in just a few days - sometimes less - from start to finish. Much of that time is spent marshalling resources. For this last paper, I did these preliminaries weeks ago. I had the material. All that was left was the writing.
This paper, however, was a little bit different. It could have gone a number of directions and came to no clear-cut conclusion. It was an exercise in triage and even as of Saturday in the library, my direction had not yet crystallized in my mind. There was a lot of background sifting to do. I finally decided on the direction yesterday sometime and when I got down to writing the analytical part of the paper, I had a clear idea of the direction I would take. It changed a little bit as I wrote (this is not uncommon), but it was in the same general direction.
I had a wealth of resources for this project. I had to leave much more out than I put in. After deciding my path, much of it was irrelevant. Had I approached this project with a more logical framework, I would have been able to zero in on just what I needed. Again, that’s not how I do it. The point is that although I pushed the envelope a little farther than I should have on this paper, I still didn’t go over the edge - and now I can relax. The paper will receive a passing grade… and I shouldn’t be surprise if I get an “A.” But I still will be.