An essay assignment would be issued and the very next day I would begin wandering through the library stacks in a trance (this was in the days when URLs were as lengthy as Paradise Lost) hunting for pearls of wisdom I could scatter among my otherwise bland analysis of whatever masterpiece we were studying. I wrote up my research long hand (too poor to photocopy) and when that was done, I'd begin drafting, then endlessly redrafting - also all in long hand (the computers were booked up for weeks). I always finished my essay early but I would tinker and tinker until the words looked foreign to me, right up until the deadline.
Imagine my horror, then, one day I was standing in line to submit my essay on King Lear when a friend pointed out I had spelled his name wrong...and how had I spelled it? With a goddamn 'h'! King Bloody Leah...I had just an hour to return to the computer suite, wait in line for a terminal, correct my manuscript, wait in another line for the print out, race back to the submission point. The self-loathing was - and still is - beyond description.
That incident has scarred me for life. I have nightmares about submitting essays to this day and I graduated 12 whole years ago. Now every time I write something, I get an attack of OCD. Everything from birthday cards to official correspondence and, now I'm a writer, all my submissions to competitions. I would rather not submit any of my work that spend another day like today, checking and rechecking everything I might have misspelled. When I am in this state, nothing looks right - even my name on the manuscript. Lornah. That's right, isn't it?