I may have mentioned a time or two that I was an English major. So that meant I wrote lots and lots of papers in college. And college being what it is, I rarely wrote any of them until the night before they were due.
I write really fast, so usually that wasn’t so painful. My senior year I took four English classes at once. By some evil twist of fate, my Southern Fiction and my Catholic Fiction class required four papers each that were always due on the same day. Routinely I would start writing these papers around nine p.m. the night before the due date, and I’d be done by midnight. This drove my roommate, who was in one of the classes with me and who was a much more painstaking writer, crazy. She’d still be working on the first draft of her one paper and I would be all done.
If this sounds like bragging, it’s not meant that way. Writing fast without the need for much revision is just a gift I have and I can’t claim any credit for it. It’s a good gift for an English major–and a blogger!–to have.
Now these are five page papers I’m talking about. When the assignment was longer, I did try to start sooner. The problem with college (and now with life) is that things aren’t neatly ordered and often responsibilities fall on top of one another. It was a mantra of mine in college to say “It has to get done so it will get done.” And I would make myself do the most urgent thing first and then move on the the next.
So there were a few times when I waited too long to start a longer paper. When I had so much to do in a given week that I just couldn’t get a head start. When I started a ten-page paper at midnight (a paper that had to be written in longhand and then had to be TYPED ON A TYPEWRITER). And that meant an all-nighter.
I remember one particular time, staying up all night writing and typing until dawn and then turning in the paper the following morning. I was writing about Gulliver’s Travels, and I was so sleepy that I kept spelling the horse-people’s name a different way every time I mentioned it. I won’t even try to remember how to spell it now, although it would be easy because Google. I attached an apologetic note to my paper explaining that I was exhausted and the letters just kept running together before my eyes!
When I was a little girl about ten years old my mother and I stayed up all night one night to watch the sun rise in the morning, just for fun. She made me sweet coffee with lots of milk and we stayed up and talked all night. It was an adventure. In high school I sometimes stayed up all night talking with friends. Then there were those college all-nighters. I’ve stayed up all night laboring with four babies. But it’s been a long time since I can remember staying up all night on purpose, particularly pulling the kind of all-nighter that is followed by a full day of responsibilities with no opportunity for sleep until late in the following day.
But guess what? Jake has waited until the last minute to write his Western Civilization paper, a paper with such ridiculous parameters that you wouldn’t believe them if I read them to you. And Jake does NOT write fast. He is going to need a lot of moral support to finish this paper and Emily and I are providing it. It looks like we will be up all night tonight. I hope I still have it in me.