I have not written an academic paper in three years.
I like to think of these gap years as a personal sabbatical which has helped hammer out which direction the compass of my life will point me in. These years have allowed me to have a lot of insights into Education, teaching, and students. I’ve spent these years in school, just not as a student.
Now that I will be a student again, I’m scared. What if I can’t write quality, academic papers anymore? What if I sit down to write a paper and draw a blank, and the only things I can come up with sound like I am stretching to make a semi-good point? What if while these gap years have allowed me to grow personally, they have morphed me into someone no longer fully capable of conducting and composing scholarly research?
Can you tell I worry a lot?
To prepare for getting back into the scholarly arena, I have been practicing writing a research paper. I chose a short story I’ve read before and am attempting to write a graduate-length paper on it. I finished the first draft, and well, it’s crap. I try convincing myself that the first draft is always crap, but then the fear and the doubt kick in, and I’m just left looking at a mash-up of quotes on the screen.
Then I remind myself that I re-read the short story, took notes on it, and wrote the first draft in a week. All while working every day and writing the sequel to The Hunted. Oh, and blogging.
So the draft is choppy now. With a little work, it will smooth out. It’s a fixer-upper, but aren’t those the best kind of everything?