I am in the midst of two final papers, one for each of my children’s literature courses.  Neither of which I have started writing, in the specific sense of the word, but there is focused thought. There is research. There is note-taking and highlighting and diagrams and maybe a little outlining.

Just a little though.

These are two very hard papers, and I have very limited time to write them. Paper #1 is a 8-12 page biocritical study on three of Lois Lowry’s most recent works. I have chosen Looking Back, Gathering Blue, and The Willoughbys. An unlikely bunch. This paper is hard because it is eight pages long, and because what the heck is a biocritical work, really? Paper #2 is a 5-6 page critical paper, applying three literary theories to a single work, and using three articles from journals about children’s lit. I am writing on The Giver, because we had to pick a book from our childhood. This paper is hard because the assignment is vague, the topic hard to pin down, and the sources few (not too many journals about children’s lit floating around), and the professor a tough grader

But this could be something I do for the rest of my life, this writing, something I will certainly be doing for the next year, here at school. I am getting started.

And I get to write hard papers about books I find interesting. Issues I find compelling. Theories that pique my interest! I’m taken back to this moment, in eleventh grade English class, when Mrs. Hanneman (I love you Mrs. H, but I will continue to tell this story over and over again) assessed my choice in free reading material as trash. I needed to read more classics – Dickens, Austen – and put down The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

I didn’t listen. I’m getting a Masters Degree in Children’s Literature.

And another moment of circularity. When I was in twelfth grade, I filled out an application, wrote an essay (about a young adult novel), wrote another essay (about this kid that tried to flirt with me while I walked over to write the essay), and found myself on the line for a full ride to my chosen undergraduate institution. All I had to do was drive back up to Mount Pleasant in a month, submit myself to a teamwork exercise and an interview, and present a ten minute presentation on any academic topic of my choosing.

I had just read Feed by M.T. Anderson. I really, really liked it. It reminded me of The Giver, a favorite book from my childhood, and Brave New World, a classic I read without provocation in the eighth grade. I didn’t know what these books were called at the time, I just knew they were cool and cool in a special way. And when my writing on The Giver, today, brings me back to this same idea – that dystopian novels are cool, I wonder how they work – I am glad I haven’t changed too much in the last seven years, that I didn’t have to become a new person.

That writing these Hard Papers feels like something I was meant to do, and that I’m excited to learn how to do them better.

So, a happy exam week to me 🙂


4 Comments to “collected”

  1. Wait, what program are you in? Did you decide on Children’s Lit INSTEAD of Library Science? I thought you were doing both for some reason.

    • I am doing both!! But my library class has been so easy-peasy I haven’t felt a need to talk about it. But I could. I will. It was a fun class!

    • …. and yes, I see myself doing both… being a librarian and also writing critical things about books, serving on awards committees, et cetera. Oh and writing novels. And having kids. And flying to the moon. And everything else on the planet.

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