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photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

I have to write a paper today for my American Novels class. It’s due tomorrow night at 6:00pm. I know what you’re thinking; you don’t have to say a word. I’m cutting it close, right?

For many people, writing is a process, and they find the one that works for them. I’m no exception. For me, writing a paper is a lot like giving birth. This piece isn’t going to get written until it’s damn good and ready, and I unfortunately have very little say in the matter. Much like babies, my papers come when they want to, and it’s usually right on the due date. Rarely have I delivered a paper early, nor have I ever had one be late. I fear the day that one doesn’t come on time, I can’t even imagine having a paper induced. What might that be like? Do they numb you from the waist down so you can’t get up from your computer until the paper comes? The mind reels at the possibilities!

I’m not saying that I don’t prepare. I know what the paper is going to be about. I search for a name that will do it justice. I do my research and get my citations in order, much like reading What to Expect When You’re Expounding, or Dr. Spock’s Drafting and Paper Care. I’ve had the prenatal class where one learns to breathe through editing and revising. “Hee, hee, hee, who, who who! Another contraction!” (Sorry! I couldn’t resist!) But eventually the paper just needs to cook in my uterus, um, I mean my head.

Sometimes I even dream about my paper. Will it be healthy? Will everybody like it, or will it be bullied? Will all of its parts be there? I count its introduction, thesis, body and conclusion as if to make sure all ten little fingers and toes are there. I make sure my paper is legitimate with a pedigree of proper citations and a Works Cited page akin to a birth certificate.

And then finally, it comes. I must say my labors and deliveries, while not always easy or short-lived, flow. The words pour out of me in beautiful synchronization; all the thoughts I’ve been thinking about for weeks coalesce into a cohesive piece that after a short once-over and edit can be delivered to whatever professor required my surrogacy services. I wait with baited breath for the apgar scores to tell me that this particular baby is happy and healthy, but in my case I look for “A”s instead of “10”s.

Was that a contraction? I need to start timing them. When they get to be five minutes apart, I need to boot up Word and start the delivery process. Hopefully, this one will be born in under ten hours. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

"Maternity Ward" at Mount Mary College

“Maternity Ward” at Mount Mary College

12:00am update:

Last night at 11:42pm, I gave birth to a 1597 word 6 page long bouncing baby paper named “We Should All Aspire to Be an ‘Uncle Tom’,” an analysis comparing the character of Uncle Tom to Christ in his sacrificial life for the greater good of others and the redemptive results born of that sacrifice, i.e. the downfall of slavery. Mother and paper are doing fine.