I see that red pen. I know that that demon of correction is already poised and waiting even before I hand in my paper. I know that it’s thirsty for the flesh of new material. It’s wired to massacre any seams of creativity it sees. It’s anticipating to rip the papers apart, shredding every last piece with unrelenting judgment.
“More structure” the bright red ink demands. “All THIS is fluff” it screams, circling whole passages that have been toiled over for hours on end. Whole sentences are deemed unworthy with one simple strike of the wrist.
And once this bleeding corpse of a paper is handed back to the waiting hands of its creator, that monster sits back in contentment to watch as the author’s spirit fades. Endless marks of criticism kill any will to write. Any lingering confidence is utterly shattered.
That’s how schools work: potential pleasurable experiences are reduced to grueling hours of labor. Endless days are spent hunched over in front of the bleaching light of a computer screen, eyebrows scrunched together, laboring over monotonous subjects. Free adolescent spirits are crushed and forced to conform to set standards.
Even right now, this devil is hard at work. I try to strip my formal essay from its academic context and attempt to mold it into a passionate narrative. But alas, I am failing. The devil still lurks behind the angelic exterior, waiting to seep through the cracks. He lurks behind my thoughts, constantly reminding me of the closing project and the final grade.
I shove his presence to the depths of my mind. Pretend that this is nothing but a diary entry. I tell myself, shaking off the thick fog settling over my wary conscience. My mind refuses to obey; the devil has taken control. The loathsome monster continues to terrorize me, craving the formal default tone of academic writing.
I hear an evil cackle resonate through my head. The devil is determined to force me to connect the literal meaning of these words to their metaphorical counterparts. It throws me into a search for possible rhetorical devices that I could have used subconsciously. It demands a desperate grapple for potential connections that I could have made.
That’s all WRONG. I refuse to conform! I refuse to comply! My thoughts. My ideas. MY writing.
In one last reckless attempt to escape the devil’s grasp, I break into a frantic sprint. It feels good to be free from his fiery protests. The colorless fog is replaced with a heavenly sunlight; I bask in its warmth and regain my narrative voice and unrestricted tone. My ideas can finally flow freely as I desperately try to embrace the moment in its full potential. I hesitate; paranoia and suspicion stunts the progress. Thoughts race fleetingly through my mind but regardless of my earnest efforts, I can’t grasp them all.
As I soon realize, the triumphant feeling is only short-lived and temporary. The devil still lurks in the back of my mind, ready to pounce.