A Writing Center Story: Tina Writes a Paper

Tina Belcher knows how to write. When it comes to her first college paper, though, she has a bit of a crap attack. She doesn’t even know where to start. As she hopelessly wanders the halls of the Liberal Arts building, she finds her way to the fifth floor and sees something that stops her in her tracks completely.

1

She walks into the Writing Center, and a receptionist asks her if she’s here for an appointment. After a brief silence and a long “Uuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh,” the receptionist assumes she doesn’t have an appointment and consequently helps her schedule one.

“There’s someone available tomorrow at 12. How many pages is it?”

“Oh my. I don’t have anything written yet. This was a mistake. I’ll go. It’s not you, it’s me. Maybe we can still be friends? Never mind. I don’t want to seem needy.”

“No, wait, you don’t need to write anything for an appointment! We can help you figure out your topic and a rough outline. Sound good?”

“Really? I can’t believe I was so quick to give up on us. Please forgive me. Tomorrow at 12, let’s make it a date?”

“Not me, your writing assistant. Your writing assistant for your appointment.  But yes, you’re scheduled for 12 tomorrow.”

“Oh, right. Okay, cool, bye, I guess.”

Tomorrow comes, and Tina crosses the threshold to begin her journey. She gives herself a pep talk. Come on, Tina. You’re a smart, strong, sensual woman. You can do this. Just put on your ‘everything is okay’ face.

2Okay, So she’s a little nervous. But half of life is just showing up, right? She sits down with her writing assistant, and it’s show time.

“What’s the assignment?”

“It’s a research paper on a current issue. It can be anything.”

“Alright! Have you chosen something?”

“Uuuuuuuuuuh?”

“I think we can work with that. What do you care about?”

“Horses.”

“Interesting. Do you know about any current issues surrounding horses? If not, we can figure something else out.”

“Actually, there has been a huge dispute in recent years about the ethics of the horse racing industry. Horses are raised for racing, their racing conditions are extremely dangerous, and they are typically euthanized as soon as they’re injured beyond recovery. It’s a mess.”

“Sounds like you know your topic.”

Tina is hugely relieved. She looks at her outline, and lingers for a moment while basking in her
Brittnee and Meg web cover resizednewfound academic confidence. She can’t wait to write a paper on something she actually cares about.

This will be easy. “Time for the charm bomb to explode all over this assignment,” she whispers to herself in anticipation.

What a day. On a roll, Tina goes to the library to start her first stage of research. She strolls over to the research help desk and gets advice from a librarian on the school’s databases, optimizing her scope of scholarly horse-related articles.

Finding a computer, she realizes the only keywords she has thought of so far are “horse racing” and “ethics.” Apparently researching is no simple task, because she’s not getting the results she needs. This is it. This is the end. I think I’ll just lie down on the floor.
IMG_2692Suddenly, a research assistant walks over to answer another student’s question about the relevance of a source for his paper. Once again, she is saved. She gets up from the floor where she was laying and patiently awaits his help.

“Hello. I need help with my research.”

“Great. Let’s look at what you’ve got so far.”

“Alright. Hey, if we’re doing homework together, does this mean we’re friends now?”

Life is good, and Tina is crushing this essay. She comes up with a first draft, and calls the writing center for another appointment.

“How many pages is this paper?”

“Five pages, but it may be more if I can manage to interview a horse for my topic. How can we talk about horse issues, but never ask the horses how they feel? It’s time for a change.”

“Alright, you’re scheduled at 12 with a writing assistant who specializes in ethics. Sound good?”

“It’s a date.”

Rock on, Tina. You’ve got this! We know you’re no hero, you put your bra on one boob at a time, just like everyone else; but, with your newfound “friends” at the Writing Center and beyond, we know your writing will be more than just doodles on a page. If you believe you’re a scholar, you will be. You already are!

Becca Hertl and Abby Murphy
Writing Assistants, Writing Center

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