Crunch Time


I’m sitting–actually standing–in my Writing for Publication class while they sweat out their final project. They are required to self publish something on Smashwords before their final exam next Tuesday. I’ve been warning them of it all semester, but now they’ve run out of time and out of excuses. I’ve told them the project is pass/fail. If Smashwords accepts them, so do I.

That’s not the only thing they have to do for the class, but it’s the latest project, and it’s virgin territory, and so it’s pretty terrifying to them. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have a deadline, but on the other hand, most of them wouldn’t publish anything if I didn’t require it of them. Necessity is the mother of invention, and all that.

They have their crunch time, and I have mine. Seventeen years of teaching, and I have my department chair coming in next period to observe me teach. I know what I’m doing, but it still unnerves me some to have a colleague come in and critique me. Everyone does it differently, and he may not approve of all of my techniques. On the other hand, I have tenure and am five (four?) years away from retirement, so what do I care?

Well, I do care. I care what other people think about me, about my work, about my books. And I know my students do too. I know they work harder when they know others will see their work, just as they do when they are competing against others for the grade.

Deadlines can be a pain. Stress can too, but we probably wouldn’t get much done without it. I know I welcome days without stress, but it isn’t long before I go looking for something else to do. Stress days–final exams–are upon us. And very quickly they will be past. What we do with those days is up to us.

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