Going back to college, bipolar and research papers oh my!
I graduated high school in 1995. Yes, I’m that old. I did the typical college thing right after, but thanks to my mental illness, inability to handle stress, and poverty I quit in 1997. It was either go to work and have a place to live or go to school and live in the library. I chose my apartment.
Fast forward to January 7, 2014–my first day of school (also my 14th wedding anniversary). I’m taking online classes at Southern New Hampshire University to complete my major in Creative Writing. So far I like it, but it hasn’t even been a full week. The fact that you only take two classes every 8 week term helps. So much better than taking five classes a week for 16 weeks like my first go-around.
This term I’m taking English Comp II and Intro to Humanities I.
The classes are split up into modules, one for each week. I’m already done with modules 1 and 2 for Humanities including the quizzes (100% on both). I just need to do next weeks discussion and start thinking about the essay I have to write.
It’s English Comp I want to talk about, though. The entire class is dedicated to writing one research paper. I hate research papers. I hate research. I get all confused with too much info coming at me and my brain shuts down. I just hate it. That’s why I don’t write historical fiction.
Like with Humanities, I’ve already finished all the reading for week one and took the two quizzes (perfect scores on both) and have more than participated in both discussions for the class. But I couldn’t leave it alone. Next week we’re supposed to work on research so we can hand in an annotated bibliography.
First off, I’ve never written an annotated bibliography and barely remember how to write a regular one (what’s MLA style again?). The fact that we have to turn in the bibliography before even starting to write the paper did not sit well with me. That’s not how I was taught to write a research paper, and apparently, it’s not how my brain works when it comes to writing.
I sat down earlier tonight (last night… whatever) to make some notes on some research I bookmarked. Of course that got my brain into writing mode and when I was done I just had to start writing down paragraphs of ideas. What came out was the crappiest rough draft I’ve ever created. I also found out that all the notes I took were interesting but won’t end up in my paper. Now I have to go back and find the research I slightly remember glancing over that had the ideas that I actually want to use. D’oh.
But that lead me to actually trying to figure out what I was writing. That meant comeing up with my thesis statement, which apparently isn’t covered fully until week 3. Huh? I have to have a bibliography (annotated with reasons why that research should be used) when I won’t know what I’m writing about until week 3. Sorry, doesn’t work for me.
I peeked ahead at later modules to figure out what I was supposed to be doing and came up with a working thesis and a preliminary outline that organized the mess of ideas I had in the rough draft. Then I posted it all to week one’s discussion because I needed input from my prof or I’m going to go nuts.
Actually I’m already nuts. I’m pretty sure I’m at the beginning of a manic episode. It could be the caffeine that has me up at 3:30am feeling completely wired, but I’m not interested in bed and am ready to tackle this paper and get it out of the way. Seriously. If no one stops me I will stay up all night researching and writing.
Part of it is because I want to get it out of the way before my “up” goes away. My crashes are horrible and I know I won’t want to do crap once I’m all depressed again. I have to work when I feel the urge. Plus it leaves me with less things to stress about.
The smart thing to do would be to acknowledge my manic episode, down a sleeping pill and go to bed but… research paper calling me. It’s like when I get in the zone with my fiction… I’m afraid if I stop I won’t be able to start again and my paper will be crap.
(and all this while having random fantasies about the Walking Dead’s Daryl and Carol… thank you AMC for your New Year marathon that I’m still working through.)