(*drums fingers impatiently*)
I sent off my essay today; it’s technically due tomorrow at 11am but I’m not going to get much out of slaving away for another twelve straight hours, just for the sake of using all the available time. The essay is done.
This opens up a myriad of problems. It being ‘done’, in terms of the work I shall put in, means I can’t improve upon it on my own; the opportunity for me to take the lessons learned from my previous mistakes, and my understanding of texts, and collate them into a single document affirming my grasp of these things, has passed. It’s over. Dead. Essays – or meritocratic projects in general – distill one’s interest for an expertise in a subject into a single tangible thing; there’s an obvious practical reason here, but this doesn’t get around the problem that learning is fluid, while essays are fixed.
Having an essay due every other week imposes an artificial fortnightly set of milestones on my learning, that I’m improving as a reader and a writer every 14 days; in reality, however, I’m progressing or regressing every day, every hour, and every minute if I’m writing something at the time. And that disconnect, between endless self-improvement stop-start academic improvement, is never more pronounced than now, the painful no-man’s land of having completed an essay but not yet got feedback on it.
That lack of feedback is the other reason this no-man’s land sucks; every sentence written is a sentence imperfectly written, and so an opportunity to improve. But now there’s a cooldown period, as my manic passion for the subject relents as time passes between now and my writing of the thing; it’s only a short period, but I was really into Alfred and his Preface to Gregory’s Pastoral Care a few hours ago, and won’t be come Tuesday morning. This might be a failing of my own enthusiasm for my degree, but I think that it’s just hard in general to maintain a passionate interest in any one thing for a period of time.
Ultimately, I need to ease off when it comes to my writing and its improvement; I’ve known this for ages, but still can’t feel comfortable without a new deadline rearing its head or a list of mistakes and errors to improve upon. I’m constantly afraid of plateauing, or coasting, to the point that I’ve been more stressed now that my essay is handed in yet unmarked than any point when I was writing the damn thing. I love to work, and love to improve; these 36 hours are the only time I can do neither.