One: It is a monumental time-suck to try to do the mechanics and the revision stuff at the same time. If I were doing it all on one sheet of paper, as I used to do, then it wouldn't be so hard, but continually going back and forth, from keyboard to page--and tending to forget which kinds of comments go where, so having to back-track and re-do--gobbles up minutes at an alarming rate.
Two: I've often noted that the essays that take the most time are the ones in the middle. The ones that are very good and the ones that are very bad require little in terms of comment; the ones in the middle--being salvageable--require a lot of work. But there is a second kind of essay that requires a huge amount of time and mental energy: the ones where the ideas are potentially excellent but so utterly pretzeled and laden with excess that figuring out what to say and how to say it takes a lot of acumen. One young man in the earlier section of 102 wrote an essay that falls into that category. This is not the Odd Duck, by the way: this young man is nearly as intelligent and somewhat in the same neck of the "oddness" woods, but he explained to me after the first class that he stammers, so he doesn't like to speak in class. But his essay: ye gods and little fishes. Somehow he got from an image of a hawk as "heaven's fistful / of death and destruction" to a discursion on Eden, the Fall, the expulsion from paradise--possibly even Paradise Lost, which I wouldn't be surprised to find out he's read and loves--but ... wait, where did Mary Oliver's poem about a hawk go??
Three: Working at home is excellent in some ways and dangerous in others. Home is much more physically comfortable, but I am a bit more likely to be distracted into all sorts of "displacement activities" (read, "procrastination"). Of course, if I'm of a frame of mind to avoid the real work, I'll find ways to do that no matter where I am--but when I'm in the office, something indefinable shifts in my deepest psyche and relays the message, "Woman at work."
That said, I could probably have pushed through one more essay today--and probably would be better off if I had, in the long run. I've almost certainly created a very stressful Monday and Tuesday for myself, trying to get everything marked for Tuesday and Wednesday. But the life maintenance I wanted to do yesterday didn't get done, so I'm hoping calling an early halt to things tonight will make it possible to do at least part of what I truly do need to get done. (And where's that 1950s wife that everyone needs, the one who does the shopping and makes the meals and runs the errands while the bread-winner wins the bread?)
And that said, I recognize that fiddling around with a blog post doesn't get the life maintenance done. It doesn't even help with the literal fiddling (or, actually, violin practice). So, off I toddle.