Apparently, hooks don’t exist. This idea stunned me while I was sitting there and threw me into prepre-pre-preduring-during-prepost-post-and-postpost-emotional-trauma. What do you mean we shouldn’t include hooks in a college essay? How else am I supposed to start? What is going to capture the reader’s attention and hook them in if not the sentence whose name takes on its task? I felt like I had an obligation to my reader (the TA, a student, a guy who randomly stumbles upon my paper just graciously lying on the floor, or maybe even the Cookie Monster). They deserve a hook; they deserve to be hooked. Not including that catchy, profound beginning could very well destroy their lives.
I don’t want to destroy their lives now, do I?

After staring at the blank Word document in front of me for a good half an hour, I reluctantly decided to move on to the non-hook. Herman Melville’s “Bartleby”…no, no, that won’t work. In Melville’s story “Bartleby”…nah, too wordy. “Bartleby”… okay, okay. I got it…
Herman Melville’s “Bartleby”…
That’s much better isn’t it?
Drained of all my energy and proud of all the hard work I’ve accomplished thus far, I decided to help myself to a handful of Pringles (or two handfuls, or four, or maybe it was seven (Once I pop, I can’t stop) (I bet those parentheses confused you))). Of course, being the dedicated student that I am, my mind still returned to the paper.
“Maybe I should write the thesis first,” I thought. To myself. Yes, I thought this to myself. (Would I be thinking to myself if I know what I’m thinking about before I relay the “thinking” part to myself? Or would the first “thinking” part already be considered “thinking to myself”? But then again, wouldn’t it be thinking “for” myself? Actually, that probably has a whole other meaning, and I wouldn’t want to get into it for fear of composing a more convoluted paragraph.)
Oh, yes. The thesis.
In high school, I learned that a thesis was one sentence long and ran along the lines of “This shows this because of x, y, and z.” (For example, “Angelica’s ramblings show that she is distressed because they are incoherent, and extensive, and because she is still upset that Pluto is no longer a planet.”) And then you would take these three arguments and form them into a paragraph each. Simple enough.
However, I was told that a college thesis frowns upon the list format because 1) the items aren’t prioritized, 2) the relationship between each is unclear, and 3) there can be as many as you want, which can go on to 4), 5), 6), and 1,000,000) You wouldn’t want me to go all the way to a million would you? What’s more, it is actually preferred that a thesis be longer than a sentence. It can even take up three sentences. Barbarians! Seeing that I had all this extra space to write, I got so excited and motivated that my introductory paragraph ended up consisting of a really really long thesis—minus the introduction. Trying to distinguish what went wrong, I realized that I might have thrown in my whole argument into my “debatable thesis,” which left me to ponder: How do I tell the reader what I’m going to say without telling them what I’m going to say? “Only the Dark Lords of the Sith know of our weakness.” Help me master Yoda, help me.
I continued to sit in front of my computer screen, my thoughts all jumbled in a wired and untidy heap, thinking about how to make a thesis debatable and specific, how to organize paragraphs so that they centered around analytical ideas instead of around rhetorical devices (but I would have to include rhetorical devices analyses anyway in order for it to be an analytical essay), and how to answer the questions “So what?” and “What’s at stake?” This last part posed to be a serious and indigestible problem (and I am normally a fan of “digesting” everything). Alas, the problem lied not in me, but in the questions themselves.
Here was my thought process:
Melville uses quite a lot of food references. So what? Overconsumption and undernourishment is shown. So what? Humans can only consume too much or not at all. So what? They’re both detrimental. So what? Easily accessibility of products is at fault. So what? I blame Elmo. What’s at stake? Sesame Street is secretly the secret headquarters of secret spies who make sure the world is filled with fluffy talking stuffed animals, and has a million episodes that are brought to viewers by the numbers 1 to 9—and only the numbers 1 to 9—brainwashing the children of our nation.
Do you see my problem?
These two questions could never have been completely answered because all I had to do was attach a “so what” to the end of each idea and I’d never end anywhere.
What’s worse, I realized that I was only at the beginning, stuck with “Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby’…” and there was still the whole six-page-essay left to write.
“Looks like it’s time for another break.” Why not? I deserved it.

 

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