The Agony of an Essay

January 20, 2009
By Jesse Younger, Blue Mound, IL

This first sentence is always so difficult when it comes to school papers. I know it’s supposed to be clever; I mean the whole point is to get you “hooked” to actually continue reading this, right? But I’m no comedian and I can’t ever seem to get that most important line out. Usually I just sit and stare at the blank page, the paper craving to have words put on it. The blinking cursor is taunting me to put anything down- to just get started. My fingers want to write, but they are immobile. If I could just begin that first sentence, just write that initial set of words, then-oh wait I think I’ve got it. Yes, that is the perfect opening sentence! Phew! Now I can conquer this essay.
Once my first sentence is in place, my fingers seem to dance effortlessly on the keys, churning out sentence after sentence. Until I spot imperfections. Uh-oh, that paragraph is a mess. Wow, that sentence looks terrible. Instead of getting all my thoughts out, I go back and edit, re-edit, and edit some more. I start writing once more. Click clack click clack…wham! I hit that writer’s block face first. It seems that my brain has stopped working altogether. I can’t even form a sentence that goes with my paper. So, I direct my attention to singing along to the music I have playing. Four or five songs go by. Slowly but surely the block dissipates and I continue on with this torturous paper.
My fingers pause over the keyboard as I reread my essay. How do I end this? I never know the answer. Finding a good spot to stop is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finally, I discover that shiny, silver, sharp piece of metal. Now could I be done? Not quite. More editing and perfecting and I might be finished. I click save and get out of this uncomfortable computer chair. When I come back, I reread and edit once more. I sense that I’m finally done. After mom reads it I call it finished. All that stressing is over with. My paper is completed!
As I reflect on a paper hopefully well done, questions pop into my mind. How is it that I come across so many roadblocks for a school paper, but if I just write what I feel it goes so smoothly? Why do I enjoy writing for myself to relieve stress or spill my emotions, but I dread assigned compositions? When I write in my room for my eyes only, the pen seems to flow across that lined paper with ease. But when I write in class, I’m focused on the hand cramp I’ve acquired. Why do I get nervous when I hear an essay is due in school, when writing at home is relaxing? Maybe what holds me back is the worrying I do about the grade I will get with school assignments. Maybe I enjoy the freedom I obtain when I write for myself.
Whatever the case is, writing essays will always be an uphill battle. But the relief to know I have finished the task is amazing. Until I realize I have another essay due next week! Here we go again…

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