Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rewriter's Block

For those who have not been following my Facebook exploits, I have gone back to school. I am pursuing a Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Nursing Education through Capella University, an online university. My hope is to become an instructor in the community colleges for future nurses.

Going back to school means the return of the term papers. I have never been very good at term papers. There were two types of writers at University of California at Davis during my bachelor's degree, the one who prepared and the one who procrastinated. The one who prepared did research well in advanced, did outlines, concepts maps, and several rough drafts, and turned in the paper on time the morning of the day it was due. I was the one who did research ahead of time and then pulled an all-nighter the day before the paper was due and turned it in with 5 minutes left to spare before deadline. I was a definite procrastinator.

This time through, I decided I wanted to change that since I wanted better grades. My first paper for my first course, I did the research and then took it for an evaluation to the men closest to me. I though it was pretty good and needed paper only minor changes. One of my men took out his metaphorical red pen and asked for significant rewrites and edits on this first draft. I must say my feelings were hurt and, in true drama queen style, I fought almost every edit he wanted to make. After some spirited give and take, I made most of the changes requested.

Draft number two went much like the first, as did draft three. This was being done in front of a random dinner guest, who I must send a bottle of wine to, in apologies for him witnessing my not-so-finest hour. I called it quits after three drafts and went to bed. The next day, there were two more drafts and edits to each one. I ended with a paper that flowed well and sounded good when read aloud. It also did not sound like me. I tend to write like I talk, which while great for a blog, is not well received in academia. My men helped with this tremendously. The ideas were all mine and now sounded well put together. I turned it in and waited a week for the grades.

I got a 95 out of 100 with lavish praise from my professor about my writing and the readability of the paper. The best I had ever done on a college paper before was a B+, now I have a solid A. I now understand and see the benefit of advanced preparation and incorporating feedback into the paper. My papers for the degree program are going to be much better this time through, I only hope my men can stand this process for three whole years.