The Di-lem-na

I know. I know it is dilemma, but if you had asked me a couple of years ago, I might have tried to spell it wrong: dilemna. I am not sure if this is a common error or not, but I am pretty sure I would have followed some rule that does not exist and spell it like column.

I first became aware of this when The Dilemma came out and the English film reviewer, Mark Kermode passed a throw-away comment about the American spelling of the title and then received an avalanche of letters telling him he was wrong. You can learn all sorts of things in the most unlikely places.

I am currently trying to learn some stuff and the latest bit of learning I have done is through research so that I could write an essay for the course I am doing. A very short essay. One of the things that I knew, but I have clearly forgotten that I knew, was that it is always important to read the question in full and unpack it before starting your answer.

I had looked at the question and made a few notes and planned my response. Then I had not looked at my notes again, but done a load of reading and a lot of thinking. I like the feeling of thinking, it has been a while between drinks. So I thought and read and planned some ideas in my head and then I started writing. I had an opinion and was ready to go (because the first thing I always write is the conclusion so I know where I am heading).

I wrote first 100 words, then 200. A day of so later I had inched up to 500. I am not used to working like this. I like to bang loads of stuff out in one sitting, but I had half of the research saved on the network drive at work, some of it printed out in my bag, and the other bit bookmarked in my browser on my iPad. Not an efficient way to work. Then on Thursday night I sat down to try and add a couple more hundred words to the essay and ended up adding 1000, which meant I had reached the word limit for the assignment.

What had happened was that I had ended up arguing myself into a U-turn on my position. The more I read and looked at what I wanted to say, the better case I was able to make against myself, which is, I guess what learning is about.

So on Friday, I excitedly read over the piece, tidied up some of the rougher edges and repetitions, made sure all the referencing was in and correct and made the decision to submit the piece two days early. I have never submitted anything two days early and I almost did not manage it as my phone kept ringing and people were messaging me while I was trying to finish it off, in what should have been a deserted office on Friday afternoon.

The submission system is online and here is where I came a little unstuck, because I had to copy and paste the title of the assignment into a text field before I uploaded it, so I went back to the assignment task and re read the question.

I had not really answered the question.

I uploaded it anyway.

My feeling at the time was that it was done and I could have a look over the marking scale and see how bad the damage might be and then possibly resubmit an edited version over the weekend which would copy over my first attempt.

And that is pretty much all that I have been thinking about today. Should I carve up my existing essay (which admittedly does go a little off track to make its point) in order to try and capture a few more marks? Or should I leave it and hope that I have done enough to score a pass? The sensible part of me says that the former is exactly what I should do but the other part, the idiot who enjoyed writing the current essay because of what I realised as I wrote it, wants to leave it, preserved in Amber and flawed.

I pulled it out again today and read it, but I am now way way too close to the material and can no longer read it critically. I tried to see if I could crowbar the odd phrase in here and there – because my points do inherently cover the bits that are missing but do not explicitly point to them.

I thought I would be able to make a decision today but I am still hovering. By 9pm tomorrow night it will be too late to change my mind. What to do?

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