The accomplishment of my academic career that I’m probably most proud of is really just a bit of stunt work, or maybe not: I wrote a 5,000-word sentence that, comprising the second chapter of my tripartite senior thesis, took me hours and hours to create, hours I received credit for and spent bent over like a scrivener a coffee table purchased from TROSA in downtown Durham for a comically low price, maybe twenty dollars, I know it was at a discount—my roommate and I grabbed it along with a plaid couch, ironic in its college ugliness and an octagonal, yessir, octagonal nightstand, upon which sits a pile of overdue novels checked out from Perkins Library where, in case you didn’t know, a fantastic selection of fiction has been collected, books of comic obscurity that they’ll get to you in a couple days at most; I swear, if you haven’t checked out a novel or book of poems from the library before, you should go ahead and do so just for the sheer esoteric challenge of it, try and decide on the most rock-covered forgotten book of some literary value you can and I bet you they’ve got it barcoded and stacked away in the Library Service Center—and bent over this table I’ve downed with the faith of a monk Mr. Coffee-brewed coffee out of a white ceramic mug as I hammered together clumsily and slowly a short novel, my thesis for distinction in creative writing; this 5,000-word sentence might have been mere stunting and goofing around because surely I didn’t need to write something so long, I could have broken it up with periods and made it far more readable, but then, this is the point, the point of the sentence and the point of me being here at Duke and the point of what I’m going into the world stumbling and unmoored to try and do—if I had just written that second part like I did the first and the third then that sentence would be only a brick wall in my brain except, instead of a wall, it would be a pile of bricks, it would be unbuilt, untried, it would be a stutter-step toward my own end zone, a move that I’ve pulled more than once after getting too enchanted with my own tiny quickness like I’m some sort of fleeing cat, catching the football and dodging laterally then trying to curl around, running straight into one of my bigger fraternity brothers because they’re all bigger than me, except for maybe one, and he’s not stupid enough to play tackle football, which by the way is one of the most enjoyable things in the world along with playing pickup basketball even though just a couple weeks ago I launched a shot over the backboard, I’m just inconsistent is all; but writing that 5,000 word sentence became the most challenging and enjoyable and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, even if it doesn’t stand on its own but is instead an integral part of the crowning achievement of what I largely studied here to do, which is try and write a book, try and write in general whether I’m writing shorter sentences or longer ones like this that The Chronicle would never, ever otherwise let me publish, and I know I mentioned the point already but I think I got a little off track, the point of this is this: Figure out what your long sentence is, everyone has their project that they don’t necessarily have to complete before they graduate but, let’s face it, if they don’t at least give it their best try then they are deserting an unfinished act, not only whatever the unfinished act might be but also their time at Duke, the opportunities here, the chances they—you—have that might not ever be as easily achievable again; so part one, figure out the manic or stupid or idiosyncratic thing you want to do, part two, work hard and develop the skills and knowledge you need to pull it off well and part three, get it done and then graduate like you know it’s time to go.
Kevin Lincoln is a Trinity senior. He is the Recess editor and the co-editor of Towerview magazine.
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