Note: I wrote this some time ago and had posted it elsewhere, but I will soon be in the midst of scoring practiced, timed essays in preparation for the one that counts for a hefty grade at the end of the term. I found this more than a bit appropriate…
Dear Anti-Writer Who Created The Concept of Timed Writing,
My students loathe you to the core. The notion that anyone with any sort of writing background can possibly craft a GOOD essay in a very short amount of time – we’re talking no more than an hour or so – is ludicrous. My job is to teach students that writing is a goddamned PROCESS. Good writing is rewriting. It’s about honing voice, substance, style, tenor, detail, syntax, and structure. It requires much more than a piddly-assed bit of time. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself. I conducted a bit of self-research with a colleague, and we learned that a halfway decent essay takes a day to write, but a STRONG essay takes a week to write, edit, and revise.
I hope the level of hell in which you will, inevitably, reside consists of a classroom replete with flicker-popping fluorescent lighting; hard-edged desktops and restrictive, plastic seating. Your writing tools will be nothing more than one of those shitawful, flimsy blue composition books and a stubby number 2 pencil with the eraser whittled and flattened right down to its dented aluminum ferrule. The eraser detail is important because, in this level of hell, you are NOT permitted to erase the errors you will definitely make while writing this…this “essay.”
Speaking of “essay,” you have a choice of the following topics:
1. A famous person, alive or deceased, who has influenced American culture.
2. Your favorite color and why and/or how that color represents you.
In this hell, you will be allotted no more than 50 minutes to write an essay, a COLLEGE-level essay, on either of the topics. Your essay will be thought-provoking, engaging, creative, detailed, and well-developed, even if the topic you’ve chosen is shitty (and it certainly is). If you’ve difficulty with grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation, suck it the hell up and press on. Your assessors will take note of it all.
After you’ve finished, you will not be permitted to ask for a second opportunity, let alone any sort of rewrite. Remember, this is a timed essay, your creation. You will be doing this for all eternity, and while, ideally, you will be garnering plenty of timed essay practice, in the end, it doesn’t matter because you STILL won’t be able to revise your work.
You will never be able to revise your work At All.
Welcome to the hell you have created for both my students and me, douchecanoe.