A few weeks back I wrote about bombing an English essay and eating a very, very humble pie.
But I never did manage to tell you what happened.
After deciding that I shouldn't do any more risky pioneering into foreign territory, I decided to write on the used and abused path of James Bond - nothing new, but there was lots of research from which I could pull something interesting. I wrote about how James Bond is the people's hero, and how different elements of the Bond franchise have evolved over the decades to keep Bond a relevant icon in a changing society.
The essay I wrote in the three days before exam week was the hardest essay I have ever written. Firstly, the work load was huge - although I had written brilliant essays in a mere few hours (actually, I very rarely stretch out essays - I do it in one short burst of inspiration) I normally take my time with the research. The amount of Bond I read, researched and watched during that long weekend was ridiculous. Casino Royale remains one of my most favourite movies, but if I ever see Sean Connery's fat fuzzy chest again I'm going to scream.
But the hardest challenge this essay presented was the insecurity. I have spent much of my life writing shit and feeling very very confident that it was still awe inspiring stuff. I've never had any problem writing before this - anything from essays or blog posts. But I would start this Bond essay, delete it, and then start again. I wrote five million plans and had about three million openings and conclusions, but nothing gelled, and from the insecurity arose panic. I had millions of ideas bouncing in my head, but I couldn't write it. I very nearly gave up.
And then finally, it clicked. Just like that. All the research and drafts and plans and beginnings and endings and ideas all glued together. I was back on home territory and I wrote it from start to finish. I polished it up, compiled my bibliography and emailed it my amazingly brilliant teacher, made more edits, and emailed it again.
To this day I don't actually know what I got for that Bond essay, and I did have six exams to write after that, so I had no time to think about it once I sent it. What I do know is that my teacher loved it, and that was really all that mattered - that I'd done a good job, and I'd made my teacher proud. Actually, I didn't know what I got for any of my subjects until I read my report a few days ago, because even though my teacher emailed my exam results my email stuffed up and I didn't actually read it until about twenty seconds ago.
I have never had a harder academic challenge than this essay. Nothing else has humbled me more than sitting at my computer, the weekend before exams, struggling through the insecurity of writer's block to write an essay that was up to my standards. But nothing has been more rewarding.
I have been wanting to be top in English ever since the year seven awards, where I missed out on the English award because I had some racist asshole for a teacher. When I got to high school and skipped a grade I'd always missed out on being top because, being at the top school, there are many weird and wonderful geniuses to compete with, all of whom had the advantage of an extra year's schooling with some of the state's best English teachers. The talent in Perth Mod is electric; hell hath no fury like a lit class full of overreaching, overachieving lit bugs, always engaged in a friendly yet all-consuming battle to be the best. But I've never given up on the hope that someday, somewhere, I'd be named as the best English student.
I opened my report, and I saw the Bs and the C and the shitty attendance rate that kicked me out of the Sphinx Society. But to be honest, this is what I saw first:
Final Mark: 96
School Examination: 100
Honour Certificate for Highest Achievement in English: Year Eleven, Semester Two.
I did it.