The Finished Product

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

I sat in front of my laptop, as I often do. Same black skinny jeans, same homemade crop top displaying a garish fish that said, “WOMEN WANT ME, FISH FEAR ME.” Same glasses and gray beanie as I always wore. My dog sat next to me like usual. The TV was on, playing a rerun of a show I’d seen many times before. It was raining — typical and perpetual in Portland. But something was different about this afternoon. Something was significant. Something had shifted.

I’d just finished my honors thesis.

The culmination of four years of blood, sweat, and more than a few tears in the PSU Honors College was a 51-page creative biography of author Mary Shelley. I’d read hundreds of pages in research. I’d read as many of her novels as I could get my hands on. I’d read her letters and diaries. I’d read dozens of her husband’s poems. I’d written for hours and hours. I’d revised with vigor, often deleting pages at a time until my finished product was “perfect.” 

And there it was. An innocuous Google Doc. It looked like every other assignment I’d ever done. Times New Roman font, MLA format, double spaced. But it meant so much more. Hundreds of hours of research and writing and years of schooling — all for this project. It seemed silly to think, but there was something almost holy about it. It was (and is!) the physical manifestation of all of my effort and passion. I’d cried while writing it. I’d raged at my computer. I’d laughed with joy when I’d written something particularly good.

And if it made me sound a little unhinged … what of it? I didn’t care!

I still have a lot to do before I graduate with my undergraduate degree. I have one more term to go, and many final papers. I’m doing the first year of my master’s in English alongside my bachelor’s degree, so I’m not off the academic hook any time soon. 

But I am proud of myself. I am proud of my work ethic and what I have created and learned. And I can’t wait to write with this much feeling and passion for the rest of my life!