A bibliophile rambles about research papers

I have reached the point in the night when no matter how many kernels are left, I can’t bring myself to eat any more of the microwave kettle corn that was supposed to make my homework list more bearable. This is accompanied by the point in the night when every song Pandora.com gives me sounds like a lullaby, but that may just be because my current selected artists are of the slow-tempo, alternative-leaning singer-songwriters sort.

I am enduring this twilight hour of a Friday night seated in front of the family computer for the sake of meeting, if not beating, a deadline that is quickly rounding the corner like the train that squished the peanut in the ditty my grandma taught me as a child. (In case you are interested, it goes something like this: “A peanut sat on a railroad track, his heart was all aflutter. Round the bend came Number Ten― Splat! Peanut butter.”)

That deadline is for the dreaded biannual English assignment that is the research paper. I have done all the necessary research on my topic (How Kurt Vonnegut uses satire in his classic novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” to emphasize the fruitlessness of being anti-war) and am only lacking the courage to commence writing. Thus, the kettle corn and the singer-songwriters; my hope is that should I fall and accidentally pierce my flesh with the sharp stalks of any of the more angular letters in our alphabet, I will have a cushion on which to rest my pride. If it weren’t midnight, I feel that this would be an advantageous method, one which I could whole-heartedly recommend to those who find themselves in a similar situation to mine. As it is midnight and my research paper is still hibernating in the shadowy caves of my subconscious, I can only suggest not trying to start a research paper at this witching hour. But I can offer some advice, as this is not my first time approaching the bend, if you will.

  • If you have a length requirement, write more than that to start so that you can cut things later.
  • If you think your topic may not be interesting enough, make it interesting.
  • If you want to get a good grade on the paper (or really any paper), have people proofread it before you turn it in.

Of course, no advice can be made entirely fool-proof. Then what need would there be for advice at all?

The main thing is do not ever believe that you can get away with procrastination because very rarely can it be successfully pulled-off.

The 1999 Dial Press Trade paperback edition of “Slaughterhouse-Five.”