Photo Credit:
Erik Godinez,
10th grade,
The Met High School
I now look back on this moment with fondness.

Michelle R. Weise

SVP of workforce strategies, Strada Education Network

Andover, MA

I had a literature professor in college named John Henriksen. He taught me something that I practice every single day—that nothing that I write is ever really finished. In preparation for a midterm deadline, I shared a rough draft with him to gauge whether or not I might be on the right path in analyzing a novel. I sat in his office while he looked through the draft. He flipped through every page carefully, and when he finally made it to the tenth and final page, he circled the final paragraph and exclaimed, “Now this is interesting!”

I was crestfallen. Out of the entire paper, the only worthwhile part was the last paragraph! I had originally thought that perhaps after a few rounds of copyediting, I might be well on my way toward finalizing the draft. Instead, I had to start from scratch. But as he elaborated on what he meant by his comment, I realized that he was completely right. It had taken me ten pages of writing to figure out the actual thesis of my paper.

As painful as it was back then, I now look back on this moment with fondness. It was hugely formative for someone who now makes a living by writing. I know that I must always revise, revise, and revise and that nothing I write is ever golden; it can always be improved upon—even if it means slashing everything I’ve created to begin anew.

Michelle R. Weise is Senior Vice President of workforce strategies at Strada Education Network in Andover, MA. She is also the co-author of Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution.