Eat This Paper

Things are not going well. I’m on my last paper, which was the one I felt most optimistic about. The one that was not supposed to frustrate me at all. I was going to work some previous writing into some stuff that I had been meaning to mention. But suddenly, I am overwhelmed. There are too many things to talk about in this paper that’s so close to my heart, so close to home. I’m trying to tell a story about Milwaukee. But which one do I tell?

I went through the trouble of asking some friends for input. I did some research, hoping that a big thing would pop out at me. Maybe I don’t have something new in me for this one. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and just try to stretch out a three-page essay into ten. But I like my short essays the way that they are. Stretching would ruin them, I’m afraid.

Of course, I have procrastinated again. Because I wanted to have this whole thing written by this time tonight, and instead, I have a few very bad paragraphs that are looking more and more like false starts. And even though the full paper is not due until next week, I do need to have a portion ready to share in class tomorrow. And I still have no idea what to say. I’ve written about Summerfest, beer, and the State Fair. I’ve written about my family and food. What’s left? Where is the rest of the story? It must be there somewhere.

My idea is to write about the experience of leaving Milwaukee. Of leaving and coming home again. I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t think I trust my memory enough.

As I’m sitting here venting this frustration, my face is flushed and my eyes are heavy and I can feel my blood. But I think I might also have come up with a strategy. Perhaps I’ll write like I’m already in the middle. Write two pages from somewhere inside the narrative already. Then maybe I’ll get a few pages to share for tomorrow, and maybe it won’t be so hard to come up with a beginning and end.

I’m going to try it. Let’s hope it works. I don’t have a lot of time left.


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