Chatter of the Unexamined Life

I’m having a lot of success with papers by thinking of minor events as major events. You know how you get to the end of the paper and are done with it and then realize there’s a bunch of bibliography you neglected and you’ve returned everything to the library? That’s the kind of event I’m trying to turn into a major event, rather than something I only have twenty minutes or so to get done by having to go to the library after dark.

I think it is a stroke of genius. Schedule three hours for it, get it done in one, feel good about oneself, celebrate, look for some other irritating oversight and repeat. What could be better? I’m going to turn in work as careful about the requirements as a girl’s.

I’m in a peculiar position where I have to get good grades, you know. In the PhD, they’ll kick you out if you can’t get Bs. I’m not the kind of chap to worry about something artificial like grades. Grades are for legalists. But getting kicked out of a PhD program could have a downside, and none of the glory of scornfully dropping out. So it is a good thing I have a new approach.

What else is new is that I’ve got a final. I don’t think I’ve had a final since 2002 when I took my last MDiv course. I don’t think any of my ThM classes had finals. I think finals are for legalists too, but he’s giving us all the questions beforehand, so it is hard for the label to stick. There are seven questions to prepare, and four of them will be on the test. I’ve scheduled a week to prepare, which is a bit disproportionate but the teacher is kind of hard to read. I think he may be the kind who values quantity over quality, unfortunately. Never did too well with those, me.

As for the novel, it is coming nicely. I’m imagining like the dickens and making some headway indeed. Every bit has to be interesting, every chapter has to have its own intrigue, a sound conclusion, and a bit of a cliff too so that there will be, besides the intrigue casually sown in former parts, a real desire to turn the page. I’m going to go over and over that thing and take all the time up to the last minute so that I’m sure he wants to read more than the 50 pages I give him. Eminently proportionate.

That way, when I flunk out of the PhD program, I can still keep up with the long-term dream of becoming a writer of Science Fiction, a more honorable way to make a living than slapping grades on other people.


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