On Literature Papers, Stephen King, and...Wait. Not Stephen King

Publish date:

I'm taking a class now on Contemporary Postmodern Lit that ends this week. The class has been great, the professor is illuminating and cool, the style of the class is engaging despite being almost 4 hours long twice a week, and the readings are, for the most part, thought provoking. We've read stuff by Delilo, Vollman, Pynchon, Barthelme, Laurie Anderson, Mark Leyner, and David Foster Wallace, among others. But now I have to write a 20 page lit paper. Due this Wednesday. Which I haven't started.

I have my topic, sort of: An analysis of three Foster Wallace short stories through the lens of Umberto Eco's take on Irony in Postmodern works. (Life Note: any time you say "through the lens" of someone obscurely Italian, you sound smart)

I have my sources: 4 analyses of Foster Wallace in lit journals, a few of the more highbrow Foster Wallace book reviews, an interview with him, some sheet I printed off a website with "Fun Facts", some stuff i can't cite from Wikipedia, a fake Foster Wallace MySpace page, and a print out of what the American Apparel store in Second Life looks like.

I've read the stories I'm going to use. I've made an outline, kind of, which more or less is a flow chart in which I've written down things like, "make insightful analysis here" next to an arrow and then made well stenciled smiley faces around the arrow to provide motivation/excitement.

But I can't write the paper. I have no thesis. And this, friends, is not, as the Digable Planets would say, cool like dat.

Fortunately, this has not stopped me before. I have written several papers without actual theses, most of which used complicated words to obfuscate the glaring point that I didn't have a thesis and tried to jazz up the fact that, for the most part, I was giving a well-written book report using words like obfuscate. Other times I have a thesis that sounds money but when i really dig through my material, I find that the stuff doesn't quite match up to my money thesis, so then I end up really, really stretching for quotes and using parts of parts of phrases to strenghen my argument, making the paper sound like an Associated Press newspaper story with misplaced, ironic quotation marks: Sherman Alexie's "use" of "Native American" dream stories is not at all "like" the classic adaptation "of Stephen" King's Dreamcatcher, even though both involve "multiple usages" of the word "dream" and two or more "references" to Morgan "Freeman" (Bell Hooks, "624").

And now I really, really need to go write this. Like I need to stop trying to come up with "clever" places to put quotation marks in fake examples of past lit papers and just leave my apartment, walk down to the Espresso Royale on the corner, order something with caffeine in it and maybe one of those delightful, cutesy, little pastry things with the jam, and get this party going. And i need to do it soon because I have class at 6. Till 9:45. Wait. Ssshhhh. Listen: If you put your ear up to the computer and mute "L.O.V.E." by Ashlee Simpson that's "accidentally" on repeat on your iTunes, you can almost hear the violins playing my pity party. Woe is me.

If anyone has the time and extensive educational background, I'm open to any sort of thesis ideas involving Foster Wallace, irony and Stephen King films, you know, something else smart sounding. And just because this is more entertaining than writing a lit paper, I'll drop back in later on tonight to give you a real word count and the worst best quote from said paper. Because who doesn't like reading succinct, well-thought out totally non-b.s. literature analyses via the Web 2.0?

That's right. Chuck Sambuchino. No one.

Until later on tonight, friends.

I'll Make it Rain on Them (remix),


PS- Pictured Below: Actor Damian Lewis of Dreamcatcher gives a sidelong glance to his competition after placing third in the "hurt dog carry" in the 2003 Lumberjack Games at Colby College and rapper Fat Joe "ironically" snacking on KFC minutes after coming out against trans fats on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title
Camille Aubray: Understanding the Nuances of Human Nature

Camille Aubray: Understanding the Nuances of Human Nature

Author Camille Aubray discusses her recent novel The Godmothers, including what prompted the book, why writers should write everything down, the importance of understanding the nuances of human nature, and more.

How Personal Writing and Journaling Is Good for the Soul and Why Your Journal Is Your Soul Mate

How Personal Writing and Journaling Is Good for the Soul and Why Your Journal Is Your Soulmate

Bestselling author Laura Munson shares how journaling lead to a breakthrough in her fiction writing and how you can use journaling to do the same.

From Script

A Fond Farewell to Netflix’s Lucifer, Writing Video Games, and Do Experts Stand in the Way of Your Writing Goals?: From Script

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, exclusive interviews with Lucifer TV writer Chris Rafferty and video game writer Ian Ryan. Plus, learn about screenwriting trailblazer France Goodrich Hacket, who co-wrote It’s a Wonderful Life, and advice on when and when not to approach a writing expert to reach your writing goals.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is misusing dialogue tags.

Poetic Forms

Boketto: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, Walter J. Wojtanik shares his relatively new form, the boketto.

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

In this article, author Paul Neilan explains how he came up with the idea for his mystery and dark comedy novel The Hollywood Spiral.


Deborah Hall, 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winner

The winner of the 2020 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards discusses the inspiration behind her first-place poem, “The Loneliest Whale."

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters split up.

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Kerry Winfrey: On Writing a Romance that's Cozy and Comforting

Author Kerry Winfrey wrote her latest romance, Very Sincerely Yours, during the 2020 pandemic to comfort herself. Here, she's explaining why that tone is important for readers.