Yes, it's challenging, but it truly drains your brain. It's not menial labor, not by a long shot. It's not even semi-menial--it's full-fledged, high-octane, thinking work. Of course the answer, given how little they're paying me, is to drop down the octane a couple of notches. To coast. Unfortunately for me, I have too much respect for my students to do that. One thing I can say for sure is this is the last time I'm going to promise to do all my grading in two days. It's a minimum of a week from here on out.
Man! I'm still not even halfway through. I'm now on number 17 out of 45. Grading is unbelievably challenging because each student has a new set of problems. Some students have mastered the basics, so you need to push them to develop their voice, or find a more unique and interesting way to tell their story. On the other hand, others have so many problems that you just need to pick a few of them for them to concentrate on so they'r not overwhelmed.