“Sections of this paper show fine perception. In other places the insight is not as clear. Staying on the topic and dealing deeply with it would bring sharper analysis. Work a little harder. You’ve got good ability.”
I got a B+ on this paper for my intro to sociology class my freshman year in college. It was December, 1976.
It was a paper I wrote on a typewriter. I didn’t write it elsewhere and then type it. I wrote it on the fly.
I found the paper while cleaning out some boxes last week. I found other papers as well: a couple from a grad school seminar, a draft of a paper that I submitted for a conference. All of them bore comments that are almost exactly the same as the one in the picture. Good potential, irregular expression.
Seeing the papers together was a helpful thing for me. It pushed me to reflect on my writing, on my work. I realized how often I stop short of the last draft, of the final pass through the writing, through the thinking. I realized that for all the rest of how I have grown in the past 32 years, in this way I am consistent. But not content.
I have made a steady diet of low-hanging fruit. It is tasty, and takes little labor. It comes easily. But there is this remote possibility that if I invest a bit more time on the fruit higher in the tree, I may, as Dr Lindblade suggested, find sharper analysis.
This isn’t a denial of value in what I’ve done. Far from it. But much has been pretty easy. And this isn’t allowing one comment from the past to infect my thinking. Rather, it is acknowledging a pattern which several people identified. Or, perhaps, it is seeing a pattern in the datapoints that several people provided.
I think I want to find out what would happen if I took the time to focus and reflect and polish.
I think you’ll find out, too.
Thanks for being part of the ride.