Valedictorians are … Failures? (Crashcourse, Day 6)

Welcome to Day 6 of Crashcourse!

Now, all I need is some inspiration.
Drawing pad and pencils are ready to go!

Are valedictorians failures? In a word, no. But research indicates they rarely, if ever, change the world. Dropouts, on the other hand, sometimes do change the world by becoming great artists and innovators. Why is that? Could it have something to do with school itself?

Crashcourse Forges Ahead

First things first. Today was my second day of writing Crashcourse, my upcoming young adult fantasy novel. It was a slow day. Faster than yesterday, but still slow. In total, I managed 917 words in 3:19. By the way, you might notice that I’m running short on my four-hour writing blocks. Sometimes, especially in the early going, I find it hard to keep up momentum. Which is kind of weird when you think about it. The first few days with a new story should be the best ones. After all, that’s when everything feels new and fresh. But that’s not usually the case for me. I think it’s because I spend that period in heavy self-editing mode. After a couple of days, I loosen up and start to write a bit more freely. That’s also when I tend to start drawing more often as well (note the empty pad over there!). It seems that the more I edit, the less I enjoy the creative process.

One of my goals for Crashcourse is to cut my editing down to the bare bones. It’s difficult to have fun telling a story when I’m so busy massaging each sentence to perfection. Ideally, I’d like to use editing solely as a way to drive the story forward. In terms of trailblazing, that means forging ahead into the darkness of my imagination until I run out of light. Then backtracking and starting forward again, lighting additional torches along the way. Those extra torches—light edits, if you will—provide more illumination, allowing me to continue past the previous stop point. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, self-editing is a deeply-ingrained habit for me. But hey, habits don’t break themselves, right? I’ll give less editing a shot tomorrow and see how it goes.

Why don’t Valedictorians Change the World?

This article caught my eye today. It refers to a study done on 81 valedictorians and salutatorians. These high-performing students, by and large, achieved a good deal of success in the real world. And yet, it seems that none of them went on to make an outsized impact upon the world. In other words, they didn’t disrupt industries or develop new technologies. Why not? Well, success in school requires obedience, discipline, and “coloring within the lines,” so to speak. These skills might make you a desirable employee. But they also make you less likely to challenge convention.

Now, I can’t vouch for the study. And really, how much of a conclusion can you draw from just 81 subjects? I mean, how many people really change the world anyway? Regardless, I found it interesting because of Crashcourse. Crashcourse, as you know, is about a dropout. A guy who couldn’t handle the demanding curriculum of a famous magic school. In other words, the exact opposite of a valedictorian. I suspect he’ll go on to do great things, like many other dropouts throughout history. Why? Maybe because he’s not the kind of guy who kowtows to authority and colors within the lines.

Crashcourse Totals

Today: 917 words in 3:19. 276 words/hour

Total: 1,502 words in 6:23. 235 words/hour

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