In my dream I am devastated by the news that I only received a score of 155 out of a possible 250 for my English literature creative writing assignment. I had hoped for a score closer to two hundred.
How could it be?
Once the shock had worn off, I went to tackle my teacher about it. My teacher was new to me. He took fifth form students for literature and had seemed friendly enough. He was gay and seemed familiar to me, a cross between my hairdresser and other gay men I have met over the years.
I gathered that he had heard I was upset and was prepared for my tirade, but not as much as I was when ranted at him about the mark. Even I was surprised.
I have never gone to battle over the results of any of my assignments, but this one seemed particularly unfair.
A mark on an essay somehow becomes the mark of a person and for me especially my literature essay. I had worked hard on it. I had done my best.
‘What’s wrong with my essay?’ I asked.
‘Too many ideas,’ my teacher said. ‘Too many ideas threaded together. It’s hard to follow.’
This infuriated me more. To me, my teacher now seemed such a creature of his times, a simpleton who wanted ease of reading and limited complexity.
I could not concede that he might have been correct in any way, though his words nagged at me because I had been criticised before for too much complexity, too many ideas in my writing.
‘I might try to find another teacher,’ I said, and even as the words slipped out I knew it would be impossible for me to slot into another class so late in the piece. My literature exam in my dream was part of my final year at school. I could not find another school nearby whose literature class would take place at the same time of day.
I was stuck.