2/4/17 – Argumentative Final Submission

Last night I reviewed the marks and comments on my argumentative paper draft. (I had to do this on my wife’s Windows computer because I couldn’t make it happen on my Mac) The grader graded it 84/100 and gave some very thoughtful comments and edits. I made quite a few changes and resubmitted the paper for my final grade. I got a 98/100. I wish I’d have figured out the Windows vs. Mac thing a while ago. =)

One more paper, a 750-word research paper, and I’m finally done with English Comp I. Unfortunately, I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm and have to work this Saturday. Also, I have Saturday dinner and Sunday Super Bowl plans this weekend, but I won’t let that keep me from getting more credits.

2/3/17 – Movie Piracy Draft

Last night I knocked out my draft of my argumentative paper. I chose to write on movie piracy. The gist is that it’s less detrimental than music piracy, only effects “recently released movies” (no effect on box-office sales), and can actually help smaller independent movies carve out market share against the blockbuster films. Basically the only big losers in movie piracy are blockbuster DVDS and paid-streaming of blockbuster movies.

The longest/hardest part of the assignment was finding and reading three relevant sources and making sure not to commit any MLA faux pas in my works cited. It’s 2017. Surely a hyperlink to your source should suffice, just saying. The rest of the paper came quickly and easily.

I decided to submit this one as a draft to hopefully identify any major issues before I submit the paper for a final grade.

One more paper and I’m done with English Comp I.

1/31/17 – There’s a Study.com app? + More. Long. Soul-Sucking. English. Composition.

Yesterday I discovered Study.com’s mobile app. Since I need to knock out free two courses this month to take advantage of my scholarship, I signed up for Digital Marketing (Business 309). I easily knocked out the 59 quizzes in a little time before work and during my lunch break.

I took and passed the closed-book final with an 83% in about 40 minutes after work. All I have left to do is a PowerPoint presentation and I’m done with this class. The class could easily be tackled by anyone with a little marketing and PowerPoint experience in one day on the weekend.

I happily stopped studying to make dinner and spend time with my family. After dinner, I started to write my argumentative paper for English Comp I. I have to reference three scholarly sources for this paper for a potential grade of 100 out of 1000 for the course? This is soul-sucking. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. I know it’s a general education requirement for pretty much everyone seeking a bachelor’s degree, but this course requires so much effort for so few points toward the final grade.

Ugggghh. OK, I’m done complaining. I know, it needs to be done. I’ll get it done this week then turn off my Straighterline subscription before I’m charged for February.

1/29/17 – My Personal Narrative

Here’s my personal narrative submission for English Comp I. I don’t plan to share most of my class-related writing in my blog, but I thought this was particularly relevant:

Writing My Book

     Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to publish a novel. In 2014, I finally realized that I could successfully write a non-fiction book about my favorite hobby. I published it in paperback and as an e-book and have sold hundreds of copies so far. I only needed to get over the novel idea and write about what I know.

     Several times over the years, I tried to write a novel, but I always felt overwhelmed by the vast open-endedness of the endeavor. I inevitably outlined a few weak, shallow characters and a bougie upper-middle class plot. After a few weeks, I would give up on the project after a chapter or two. Meanwhile, for the past 20 years, I’ve devoted myself to the hobby of collecting, restoring, and modifying older Volkswagens. In other words, I had become somewhat of an expert in this area.

     One day, it occurred to me that I could write a brief non-fiction book about my Volkswagen hobby. Suddenly, the idea of writing a book seemed easy. I estimated the number of words I would need to write for the length of book I wanted to write, then divided that by ten to fit the book into ten chapters. I spent a little time thinking about what the nine most vital topics would be (ten with an introduction). Now I had ten topics with a finite number of words I needed to write per topic. Writing my book was going to be easy!

     When you’re writing about something you know a lot about, writing becomes almost a stream-of-consciousness task. I would sit at my computer and say to myself, “OK, time to knock out another 500 words.” Like any other task that requires repeated effort, all it took was dedication to carve out the time from my busy schedule. Ideally, setting a small goal of 200-300 words per day is best, but you have to make sure to write the 250 words every single day. If you can write 250 words per day, you can accomplish a small to medium sized book in three to four months. Once I had finished my rough draft, I realized that I had used way too many adverbs and cliches. To distill my book and make it as powerful as possible, I actually had to edit out almost a third of my rough draft to create my final draft. I removed, as opposed to adding, about a third of my book! That’s not something I ever imagined when I started the project.

     To get my book out there as quickly as possible and maximize my profit, I decided to self-publish my book. All I had to do was upload my manuscript to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, make a few edits, and my e-book was available for download. To publish my paperback, I paid someone $20 to make cover art, and I uploaded the manuscript and cover art to Amazon’s companion site, Createspace.com. One weekend’s worth of preparation and my book could now be purchased by anyone, anywhere, in the world. Better yet, it qualifies for Amazon Prime free shipping. I didn’t hire an agent, so I don’t have to share any of the profits. Createspace ships books on a per-order basis, so I have no inventory expense and I won’t get stuck with any unsold books. I make money on every single book I sell at a fixed, not variable, rate.

     In the future, I plan to write lots of other books. Now that I know that it’s not a behemoth, unending process to write a book, my future books will be even easier. All it took was the realization that I didn’t need to start by writing the next great American novel. I wrote a book on a topic I love in just a few months and published it myself. Other than promoting the book and filing my taxes, I don’t have to do anything else to continue to earn this passive income stream.

     I’ve also started a blog that one day I might be able to turn into another income stream. Who knows, a few more books like this and one day maybe I’ll be able to quit my day job. Next up is a book about earning my bachelor’s degree completely online in under a year. All it takes is a finite strategy and the dedication to write 250 words a day, every day. I may not ever write the next great American novel. I have, however, come to realize that there are many ways to achieve success and happiness. All of them have a common denominator of dedication.

1/23/17 – Microeconomics & Some More Composition

This morning before work I took another Microeconomics exam. Now I’m sitting on a 78.57% for the course as a whole. That’s 7 of 24 exams down. I need to slow down a little and read the text instead of just skimming it, but I’m not worried about the outcome. The theory isn’t complicated, but interpreting some of the graphs and remembering formulas can be more challenging.

My grade came through on Straighterline for my Summary Exercise – 19/20 (95%)

This evening while I was cooking dinner I wrote and submitted my Compare/Contrast Paper. I did it on Stocks vs Bonds, which is something I know quite a bit about so I didn’t have to research it. Four papers down, four to go.

Tonight, I started my Personal Narrative paper. This one shouldn’t be too hard.

1/20/17 – Writing, writing, writing…

It’s been a very long week at work. I still managed to squeeze in some writing for English Comp after dinner. Tomorrow is my first Saturday off in five weeks. I’m really looking forward to going fishing. Not much else to report today, other than writing papers for English Comp.

I plan to spend most of the day Sunday studying, writing, and taking exams. (Plus watching a little playoff football)

1/19/17 – Focus, Determination, and Discipline

Today was an epically stressful day at work. I had zero time all day to work toward my bachelor’s degree. By all accounts, it was a sh**ty day. Everyone is going to have a sh**ty day from time to time. What separates the few great people from most average people is discipline.

I’m not saying I am great. I haven’t achieved greatness, at least not yet. I’m not perfect. I’m just saying that a few attributes that all great people share are focus, determination, and discipline. Those aren’t the only ingredients for greatness, but they are up there.

I came home from my s**t sandwich of a day and could have easily “treated myself” with a night off, ordering in a pizza, or watching a mindless show. Instead, I knocked out another microeconomics exam, submitted another English Comp paper, and spent some quality time with my wife.

When you’ve had a bad day or you’re facing adversity, it’s easy to succumb to “taking a night off,” “I just need to relax,” “I deserve this,” or “I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, life is unforgiving. Sometimes you’re going to have a s**ty day and you simply cannot use it as an excuse. Successful people win consistently through focus, determination, and discipline.