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As the semester draws to a close, most thoughts on campus have turned toward exams, presentations and that ubiquitous final task: writing term papers. Of course, most of these things involve prior reading as well, but few people get plaudits for “reading well.” Reading is an underrated skill next to the celebrated talent of writing, as it is technical or of a more esoteric variety.

All that is expected of a reader, novice or professional, is a dogged determination to work one’s way through reams of print. The clever ones draw conclusions that were set up by the author in the hopes of bolstering the readers’ belief in his or her abilities; the really clever ones go on to get literary degrees and become critics.

But writing. What a completely different pursuit.  Beginning a piece of written work is an uphill battle — the writer’s block is a most reviled affliction, treated on par with a recurring disease. It is with good reason that the adage is “well begun is half done,” and nowhere does this apply more than writing, where just beginning is more than half the battle won.

Having thus begun, the author must then struggle through moments of despair and a total lack of belief in one’s ability. A writer can construct a beautiful little paragraph as if crafted in the pursuit of the perfect story while the very next page stands stark and blank like a chalkless slate on the child’s first day at school.

Readers (and professors) should take cognizance of the existence of these issues and savor each piece of writing not just on its face value, but with an added appreciation of the travails and late night energy drinks that went into its making.

Worthy of our admiration are those who set aside crippling mental blocks and write, not for the masses in the libraries or the critics in their armchairs, but out of a genuine love for the written word. To see one’s work published is a joy, but to be able to show it to a cold, cynical world is strength. And to repeat this regularly, week after week, is something quite special.

The State Press is hiring afresh for next semester, but you can still reach Kartik at

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