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May. 30th, 2012

This morning, I had a course survey for History of Pop Culture in my inbox, so I suspected that meant my grade had been entered. Cue nibbling of nails! I didn't want to check my grade while at school because, if it wasn't what I wanted to see, then I would be crabby all day and not in the right frame of mind to interact productively with my students. So I waited till I got home and ...

I got a 96.67% on my final paper! \0/ \0/ \0/

That makes my final grade a pretty dang respectable 97.3%.

Yes, yes, I know some of you are wondering why I was even nervous. I know I'm smart. I know I'm a good writer and a conscientious (to say the least!) student. (It has taken almost three decades to be comfortable in saying that.) But this paper was really a challenge for me. I'm not a historian. I haven't been this frustrated by an assignment in a long time. It's not the kind of thinking or writing I'm used to doing or even that I particularly like doing. Some of the books I read for the paper were wonderful, but others were fall-asleep-at-my-desk-boring treatises on the economics of agriculture, localism, et cetera. Most were in between. The topic is one that I love--sustainable ag--but the approach was one that I don't. I'm not a city girl, either, for a reason. I had to wrench the paper back time and again to an urban studies focus. It wasn't fun, which is rare for me to say of a writing assignment. I wish I could say that it was.

But I did it and, apparently, did it well. The professor said it was one of the best he'd read. Not bad for a non-city-girl and non-historian! I'm very happy.
Today, I received good news about a paper I'd written for my recent grad school class, but for the first time in a long while, I'd been very nervous about something I'd written. It's that comfortable old dread, that sudden realization of the possibility that one has labored hard and still produced a dud. As I clicked through the university's website to view my grade, I had butterflies in my stomach.

I've often thought about writerly confidence and its relationship to skill as a writer. I was once the wimpiest of wimpy writers; I still am wimpy in some ways. And in working with other writers in the capacity of a peer and as an editor, I've made my share of observations about how wimpiness and confidence seem to relate to skill and success, however one chooses to define the latter.

Writerly wimpiness, for me, coexisted beside a tiny flicker of hope. )

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