I Made Something and I Don’t Hate It

The vast majority of my undergraduate career was spent calculating the minimum
amount of effort required in order to get grades in my classes that I was comfortable
living with. When I say ‘living with’ I actually mean ‘passing.’ It’s not that I am
incapable of achieving good grades; I just never saw the benefit of doing so other
than a small ego boost. After all, how would exam scores help me in the real world?
It’s not like I can get a job taking exams.

Then, during my sophomore year, I had a magazine writing class with Brad King.

From the start he was testing all of his students. There was lots of yelling, threats of
failure, etc. I didn’t really buy it, but I found it interesting. He was the first professor
I had that brought that kind of intimidating energy to the classroom. Because of that,
I went on to write some of my best stories in that class, and have held onto them ever
since.

In the years that followed, I went back to my old ways of just getting by and
doing the minimum. In doing so, I started to hate everything I created. Sure it was
acceptable work, but I kept looking back at the stories I had written my sophomore year
and appreciating the hard work that went into it. The product of that was a well-
written story about the vinyl record industry. It was no coincidence that I had
worked harder on that particular story than anything else and it also happened to
be the only work of mine that I didn’t hate.

When Brad approached me about being a part of Invictus, I knew it would be lots of
hard work. It would be lots of work that wasn’t even for a class, and it would require
me to meet with people on Saturday mornings no less.

Madness.

But I said yes, knowing that after months of stress, red ink and blank pages I would
end up with a solid bit of writing. I knew that I would end up with something I
could show my family and friends and say to them, “Hey remember that time I told
all of you I’d like to be a writer? This is what that looks like.” I knew that I would
end up with something I would be proud of for the rest of my life, and that I’d be
able to look back on and not only remember those moments in the essay, but also
remember the hard work it took to create something real out of those moments.

Now that is something I certainly don’t hate.

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