New Culture Writer Stephen Roper Spills the Beans On Last Minute Pundit Success


About Stephen: Stephen Roper is a pop culture-loving, basketball playing, Sacramento-based aspiring writer.  His witty application essay explaining how he was incredibly skilled at undermining himself arrived to PolicyMic's door just in time to include him in our summer culture skillshare. Stephen, welcome aboard!

(From Stephen

When tasked with teaching something I considered myself awesome at doing in 350 words or less, I thought I’d share my wisdom in one of three arenas:

1. English: I actually taught English in China for two years and was a writing tutor for my university.

2. Basketball: Specifically, I thought I was awesome at three-point shooting since I left my high school with records in three-point field goals made in a season. I was also a counselor/teacher for basketball camps in high school.

3. Pop-Culture Consumption: No accredited institution reinforces my purported “skill” at consuming media, but I promise you it’s a skill having your laptop, tablet, and TV going at once as your brain absorbs movie, sports, and TV “knowledge” like this:

But now, after trying to bestow some wisdom I realize there’s one thing I really am awesome at: undermining myself. I’m really good at it, and to both prove it and teach the skill of undermining one’s self I think I’ll actively demonstrate it since, I’ve been told, the best way to teach is to show (but I could be wrong [undermining!]).

So, I think I’m good at writing? I thought about expounding on things like “establishing a voice,” “writing about what you know,” and “finishing something before sharing it,” but then I realized that I’ve not been a paid writer in a long time, that I was now in a career that involved very little creative/thoughtful writing, and had only one published short story to my name. I also realized how lame it is for someone looking for a job in writing to teach someone who already has a job in writing about, you know, writing. So that was shot.

Then there was a piece teaching you about playing basketball, which I was going to cleverly begin by conceding that an attempt by myself to dunk would look something like this:

But, after that clever introduction, I began thinking that I’d never played in college, that my abilities and “talent” since high-school had fallen off since I know longer play every day, and that the only real piece of advice I could bestow on you was to practice a lot since, really, that’s all I’d done.

And, I mean, pop-culture consumption? Who needs to be taught how to sit in front of screens and watch stuff?

Now, I also want to bring it to your attention, pupil of mine, the fact that your request was for a tutorial of 350 words or less. Mine’s 429 (and counting). Finally, I want to highlight the fact that the last day for admission is 05/15/2013 with a note stating, and I quote: “…we’ll prioritize early submissions”. That about sums up the art of subverting one’s own self and/or intentions: highlight your inadequacies in any field you may feel you can contribute to, then limit your chances at success by blatantly ignoring the guidelines set. 

I mean, it is a skill.

For more news on Stephen, follow him on Twitter: @SmRoper20