Anatomy of an essay crisis

Chase Smith 15 February 2015

We’ve all been there – it’s noon and there’s six hours to go until the deadline. You’re tolerably comfortable, perched on your college-issued swivel chair. The light is good, your tea steaming, your laptop cracked open at a jaunty angle. It’s time.

Step 1. Unbridled optimism

You enthusiastically open a new document. Its blankness is beautiful – a canvas waiting for you to paint the fruit of your intellect upon it. You revel in the possibilities, typing your name with flourish. The date follows. Wow, with five words down, this is already going well.

Step 2. Some positive procrastination

You take a look at the font. Is Calibri appropriate? How would your name look in Times New Roman, perhaps?

Step 3. A little more reading

Name affixed, font set, you are ready to dig in. Or are you? You remember, inconveniently, that there was that one other book (or twenty) on the reading list that you didn’t quite get to. You saunter over to your bookshelf and peruse. You’ve got time, after all.

Step 4. More tea

Book flipped through, quotations noted down, you’re ready again. But what is this? Your tea is cold. Tragedy of tragedies: this requires urgent action.

Step 5. Mild despair

Four hours to go. There’s still time, theoretically. Reluctantly setting your tea to one side, you type the first sentence, and then the second. Was that really how you wanted to begin? Not catchy enough. Backspacing, you try again. This is harder than you first thought.

Step 6. Just a few minutes of social media

It’s time to abandon your essay, momentarily, to send an assortment of facebook messages: “My essay isn’t going too well, how’s yours?” “Lol, 50 words in and three hours to go. What is my life?” You are careful to throw in the tearful cat sticker for good measure.

Step 7. Unplanned naptime

Glancing back at your meagre introduction, you realize that you are rather tired. Why did you decide to type your essay in your room? Because there’s a fluffy bed, that’s why. It calls you. You listen.

Step 8. Despair part two

Hair matted to one side of your head, fully clothed and confused at the lack of sunlight outside of the window, you wake up in a frenzy. Fumbling for your phone, you check the time. One hour to go. Covers flying, you stumble back to your desk and start typing madly.

Step 9. The finish line

As the minutes tick down dramatically, quotations fly in, footnotes are attached, and the works cited is hashed into near-completeness. And then, abruptly, with only a minute to go, it’s done, miraculously. Tea cold (again), laptop fan buzzing angrily from the ferocity of your efforts, you open Hermes and cobble together a passably rational email. You almost forget to attach the essay. But with ten seconds to go, you press the send button. Sheer bliss.

You retreat back under your covers with a fresh mug of tea, finally finished, until an hour later you log back into Hermes only to discover that you’ve emailed the wrong address.