My second semester grades came out this past week. It makes for a difficult time for me and my classmates.
Practically, I don't care what grades I get. I don't want to get into the publishing business. I already have numerous credentials and years of experience in teaching. And of course, agents and publishers don't care what grades I get either; they just care how well I write.
Emotionally, it's hard not to get tied up in grades. Especially when people do better than you. Or you're one percentage shy of distinction. Or your grades don't improve. Or you don't do as well as you expected. Or a classmate whom you thought was a way worse writer than you gets the same grade. Or you get the same grade as a classmate you thought much better. All sorts of permutations, combinations, all anxiety-ridden.
Last semester my classmates and I discussed our grades ad nauseam, who got what, who deserved what. This semester we're being quite cagey. I think we've learned our lesson.
I find the whole process frustrating. My tutors and classmates have been critical, but always encouraging and supportive. To come from such a positive atmosphere to being assigned a single number, a perceived rank, is disheartening.
Of course, isn't that the way the writing world is? If all of us wanted to spend the rest of our lives writing as a hobby, grades or rank would never be necessary. But if we want to become published, that's different. The publishing world isn't about group hugs and hobby writing: it's a business, one which becomes more and more challenging to break into every year. A writer's daily life involves rejection, reviews, analysis: a thick skin seems a prerequisite for the job. That and good writing.
But would Twilight have made distinction at Bath Spa University?
Some books steal public interest and run with it. And for all the writing community's kvetching about adverbs or bland writing, readers gobble them up. Other books have thrilling plots, others beautiful description, others intriguing characters. It's rare, near impossible, that any book will succeed in all these areas. Are we expected to as students?
So maybe grades don't matter after all. Maybe the grading isn't entirely objective anyway. I love my tutor, but she is only one person (grades are double checked by an exam board, but I understand marks are rarely changed). Phil thinks Bath Spa grades quite harshly. Course, the UK grading system is weird anyway (but that's a whole other blog post!).
All of this is to say, if I could have it exactly how I want it, would I want to know my grades? I'm not sure. Would you want to know yours?