Monday, November 24, 2003

I was two hours and twenty minutes late for class today. I don't know if that's a world record or not, but I know it's my personal record.

I was up all night working on a story for class. Around 9 AM progress had slowed to a crawl, so I set my alarm for 11 and figured I'd start again with plenty of time when I woke up. But I woke up at 3:20 PM. Apparently I had been waked up by the alarm, slapped it, and fallen back asleep so quickly I wasn't awake long enough for it to imprint on my memory. I haven't done that in years, but then I don't often pull an all-nighter and then try to get by on just two hours of sleep either. (duh.) So I threw my clothes on and started writing. By 4:15 or so I had written a decent ending. I practically ran to class and got there to surprise the teacher, who didn't notice me until I spoke up.

The funny thing is, I thought I was only 20 minutes late. I didn't figure out that I had missed almost the whole class until everyone got up to leave. Class starts at 2, but for some reason I looked at the clock that said 3:20 and thought, "Oh shit, I only have forty minutes!" I didn't think "Oh shit, I'm almost an hour and a half late," it was, "I only have forty minutes." I think this was a case of my subconscious mind dealing with my conscious on a "need to know" basis. Of course, it could also have been because I was so stressed or was half-asleep or something.

If I had realized what time it actually was, I would have been far too embarrassed to go to class. But as it is, I even got a little laugh out of it. And I'm glad I did. If I hadn't rushed through the story and got off to class, I would have tried to hand it in at the teacher's office after class or I even would have had to leave it for her before I going home for vacation tomorrow. Neither of those are great options.

I don't know why finishing the story was so hard. Last semester I wrote a story of comparable length and I don't remember exactly how things went all those months ago, but I think I would have remember if it had gone like this. I don't think I put it off until an hour after it was due like I did this time. And more generally, I've been working on (for a given definition of "working on") this story for more than a week now. You can debate how much I should have worked and stuff - I think the fact that it was such a problem is all the evidence needed that I should have worked harder than I did, and earlier, but the point is I wasn't slacking off that much.

Now that I think of it, there was one significant difference between this story and pretty much everything else I've written - no, scratch that, between this story and every single story I've ever got past the first paragraph of. The difference is, this had no action. It was a very psychological or even philosophical story. I like it (or at least I do now, though I haven't reread it since handing it in, so maybe my opinion of the whole piece would be changed after a some time away), but it's all Idea and Character, only the Action necessary to develop those, and no Plot. It was experimental in more ways than one.

So there's a moral to this story. I should write plots rather than ideas. Well, maybe not that, since as I said I liked this story. But when I'm going to write an idea I should start it well in advance. Either that, or at least plan it out in exhaustive detail, rather than just knowing the idea and how to begin.

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