Post inspired by reading: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins.
My last semester as an undergrad, I was in my history degree’s mandatory Thesis course. Well, mandatory as in we all had to write a 25 page Thesis to get the degree, but each 10-15 person class had a separate main theme, to best match content to interest rather than being entirely open ended (I LOVE UVA!).
The one I chose was “Gender in the US Civil War Era” though my paper ended up being only marginally gender oriented. While I tried to draw up the female angle in my sources, mainly I was writing about the difference between what was really going on in Washington vs. how local people (SE VA and NE NC) viewed what was happening/laws that were passed.
Remember the fainting ladies of Portsmouth!
Anyway, the whole course was centered around guiding us down the path of writing our paper, teaching us how to find and vet sources, coming up with our topics, actually finding sources; all of our assignments were to keep up on track (while we actually did learn about gender issues during the CW Era.
Anyway, in early April (Graduation was May 22) our homework was to have 5-6 pages of rough draft to go over in class. I misunderstood and thought we had to have the whole rough draft.
I’m also a procrastinator, though I’d spend weeks letting my paper “perculate” in my head, drafting and redrafting paragraphs and arguments, but never actually writing much down.
So, the night before class, I had all my sources read and had notes from them (because of the work we’d been doing the past 3 months in class), I just had to buckle down and write.
Which I proceeded to do.
All 25 pages (double spaced, thank god).
Actually, it may have only been 23, but that 25 wasn’t set in stone and I did know that out was just a draft that was due. Drafts can be shorter than the final project.
I wrote all through the night. I think it took me a good 15 hours (including some distractions) total.
This was the only all nighter I did in college and I have no regrets. Rather than be embarrassed when I walked into class and learned that I’d screwed up, I was happy. The paper that I had been dreading all semester was done! Sure, it’d need some tweaks, but as every scholar knows, you can’t write a proper introduction until you’ve written the paper and came to your real conclusions (instead of just what you think you will be talking about). Research is fun because you don’t know where you’re going until you get there (if you are doing it right, of course).
I’m writing about this today in part because of the story I’m reading and also because the semester started this week for school (I’m getting a MSED in Elementary Education online) and between my two classes (Human Development and Public Speaking), I will be writing 5-10 research papers (though P.S. forbids reading off a manuscript and all speeches must be given with just notes; it’s still all the work of a paper). Given the time frame, I expect they’ll all be 3-5 pages (double spaced), which is less than many of my ranty blog posts (which yes, if possible for P.S., I will be using my blog posts for inspiration).
Honestly, I’m just worried that P.S. is going to be super boring to learn because it has to be generic. It’s one class that everyone must take, but it’s taught en masse rather than in small sections where each topic is different so you can study in the context of what interests you (like my thesis course and the undergrad writing requirement at UVA). I’d much prefer to study Public Speaking in the context of the Civil War Era, or the Guilde Age, American Presidents, 20th c. World Leaders, the Civil Rights Movement, scientists begging for funding…
‘Cuz, we ALL know that this generic class is going to focus on the most famous speeches known to mankind ( the ones studied to death). The Gettysburg Address is important, but what about comparing it to the counter speeches given by Jefferson Davis? Or the “I have a dream” speech vs. a speech by Malcolm X?
Hmm. I think I just found another good topic for that class!
AnyHoo. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this month! I can’t link to it from my tablet, but you can find it at the top of the page 😊. There are some really fun card challenges that I’m hoping to enter this weekend, if I don’t have too much trouble with school work.