When it comes to writing essays…

Clearly, we are writing to completely different goals. What’s brought on this rather abrupt topic? How about having to work beside people who seem more worried about the length of their essays than their contents? I’m not sure if it’s because I write a lot as it is and don’t really bother keeping the word count in mind or if it’s due to being trained to write directly to the point, but this sort of mindset, one that values quantity over quality, just bugs me. Hell, it’s probably both combined with a general dislike for the frat boy-ish behavior of this bloke beside me. Having written absolutely nothing is not something to brag about, sir. Now pipe down and let me work in peace.

Or I can just put on my iPod. Freakin’ love my little device.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I see this sort of mentality everywhere except in the sciences. Maybe it’s because we don’t really have much to write about and, when we do, it had better be short, sweet, and to the point. I remember my first formal lab report a few years back; it was a struggle to cut out much of that florid writing. I’m assuming it’s because that’s how I was taught to write in high school, in those literature courses that emphasized imagery and metaphors so long as they added to your work. Writing like a scientist seemed a bit brusque, so abrupt and to the point that there was no room to express oneself properly. Fast forward about three years  and I find myself scratching my head over why some essays are required to be twenty pages long. Why the length? It’ll inevitably be filled with bullshit just to get the word count up.

Even now, with the required liberal arts-ish seminar and all of the writing that comes with it, some of my friends are still struggling, still typing furiously and then clicking on Word Count, praying that, this time, there will be more than enough words for them to be able to stop. Maybe it’s because I tend to write a lot for this blog, but 1,200 words? A pittance, especially when I’m just getting warmed up. I just like words! It makes me wonder why I became a Biochemistry major in the first place…

Oh, right. I like to be in the lab more than I like to write. Go figure.

So, the seminar requires a lot of writing and, what’s really nice, a lot of introspection. The homework is essentially “read something and then respond to it using these questions to guide your thinking”. I’ve had friends spend two, three hours on their prep sheets easily. Me? An hour, tops, and that’s without me wandering off to manage my kingdom online. Currently playing War of Legends, which is another game published by Jagex (of RuneScape fame), because I can just set things to go and do themselves and not have to actively click much. So, between ordering troops to ransack various wildlands and wondering just what exactly Aristotle meant when he said that monarchies are the most ideal forms of government, I can finish off a prep sheet in an hour and a half. I’m not bragging (well, okay, maybe a little), but it’s a damn handy skill to have when you procrastinate and the questions are due at 12:05 pm exactly.

Now back to the irritant. I’m still not sure what bothers me more, writing to an arbitrary word goal or being utterly obnoxious about it in a public space. Again, it’s probably both, but until I can find a way to isolate said noxious persons in some kind of bubble, I think I’ll complain about having to write to X amount of words. Or pages. Especially pages.

I have a few friends in the liberal arts and other departments outside of my own, which is truly a marvelous thing. Seriously, I totally recommend that you make friends outside of your major; if you’re anything like me, you tend to feel suffocated after a while and need someone on the outside to give you an opportunity to actually freakin’ breathe once in a while. But yeah, I love my friends to bits until they happen to say something to the tune of “I have to write a 15 page essay for class! Isn’t that the worst?”

…No. Not at all. I’d love to be able to write that much about something; ideally, it should serve as proof that, at the very least, I can come up with 15 pages of stuff about something that I am at least conscious of if not passionate about. Of course, I’m not going to say that because then it’ll turn into a pissing contest of who has more work to do than the other, whose major “totally sucks” because of the workload. I dunno, I’m not into that.

I’ve heard tell that my major is apparently one of the more difficult ones and, you know what? It totally is. Is it the hardest? Well, no. I’m one of those people that believe that, should you have a genuine interest in something, it’s not going to be as difficult as attempting to tackle something that is boring. That doesn’t mean that my courses have been a breeze. I like Biochemistry well enough, but Organic Chemistry was the death of me the first time around and the math component was a bit of a killer too. I got through them because I took my student advisor’s advice and made it fun. Just don’t ask me to depict a Claisen condensation; odds are that I’ve forgotten what goes where.

Where was I going with this? If you’re complaining about the homework now, wait ’til you get to do that shit for real. It’s not gonna be pretty. So find something you like and are reasonably good at or at least shut the fuck up and let other people work in peace. Okay?

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