06 October 2007

My Personal Battle with War and Peace

The summer before my senior year of high school I happened to wake up rather early one morning, like 8 o'clock. Being the teenager that I was, I went immediately to the living room to find something to watch on television. Thankfully, by this point in my life I was completely finished watching MTV day in and day out during my summers. As I flipped through the channels I happened upon the American version of War and Peace with Audrey Hepburne. It was just beginning. I had seen bits of it before when my mom was watching it. I didn't see much though, because I detest watching movies in bits and pieces. I want to see the whole movie or no movie. If I've seen the movie before, I don't mind jumping in and out, but otherwise I don't want to even miss 15 minutes of a movie.

So, I sat down to watch the long film. I remember sitting on the couch waiting for a good time when I could run to the bathroom or run to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal, but there were no commercials, and I just couldn't bear to leave. The film had completely captured me. Eventually there was an intermission, so I had time to run around and take care of things and then return to my movie. I was completely enraptured. I knew by the time the movie was over that I needed to read War and Peace.

That opportunity came very soon thereafter. My senior English teacher assigned us to choose a classic novel and write a literary analysis of it. As our class wandered through our insufficient library, I found a few books that looked good. One of them was War and Peace. I hesitated only because of its length. (I don't remember how many pages, but it's loooooooong). Eventually, I convinced myself that I could do it, and I selected the book as my topic.

I really enjoyed reading the book, but wow! it took a long time. I read voraciously, but I didn't quite finish it in time. My rough draft was due. I was not even close to finishing the book. For my first three years of high school I had the same English teacher, and she was content to let us turn in pretty much anything for a rough draft. She said an outline was sufficient, but it was really to our own detriment that we didn't write our papers sooner. I was a procrastinator then (I still am sometimes), so I rarely actually wrote a rough draft. It was almost always just a detailed outline. Besides, that's just the way I write papers. I think and think and think. Then I sit down and write. But, I digress.

I turned in my "rough draft" which was actually a sketchy outline. When I got it back, it had a big, red "F" on it. "Oh dear," I thought. "I'm going to have to get an "A" on my real paper if I want to not get a "C" this six weeks."

I continued to voraciously read the book. The paper was due the Monday after Thanksgiving break. I spent Wednesday and Thursday of the break working at the grocery store. I took my book with me so I could read it on my breaks. On Friday and Saturday I went out of town with my family. I took my book and read, read, read. I finished the book Sunday afternoon.

Then I began making the outline a paper. I worked all night. Literally. I didn't go to bed. I wrote until 5:40 when I realized I needed to wake up my brother to take me to early-morning seminary. After seminary I cleaned up the paper a bit and printed it. My friend picked me up for school at about 8:10, and we were off to school. My paper was complete, and I was completely exhausted.

I can count on one hand how many high school classes I NEVER slept in. And yet, that Monday, I couldn't sleep in any of my classes. I was so exhausted, and yet I could not get to sleep for the life of me. I went all day with no naps whatsoever.

Then I went home and went to work. I was scheduled to work until 10:30, but I got a friend to switch with me so I could leave at 10. I didn't make it to seminary on Tuesday morning.

And that is the story of my reading War and Peace. Also, it is the story of my first and only (to this point in my life) true all-nighter.

By the way, I LOVED the book, and I got an "A" on the paper, and "A" for the six weeks grading period.

1 comment:

Bart Bradshaw said...

Great post, Sherry. I remember you telling me you had read War and Peace, but I never heard the nail-biter story of your paper!