Reflecting 101

Reflecting 101

Dear Portfolio Reader,

So far, my writing career has been fairly short. I really only took one class in high school that focused on writing, and while I had to write many essays for a variety of other classes, I never really focused on the writing part of it. I just wanted to answer what I had to, and get it all down on paper. My Advanced Writing class in high school was really my first concentrated exposure to writing and the writing process. At first it seemed fairly simple: just write what you felt, and back it up with personal experiences and examples from texts. But during this past quarter, I have learned that there is more to it than this. You have to consider your own personal language and tone, as well as closely analyzing texts when responding to them. I learned all about rhetoric; a concept that I knew very little about upon entering this class. I have looked beyond the surface of writing now, and begun my writing career.

I was pretty nervous about our first paper. It was the first college paper that I had ever written; I was nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. On top of this, we, to some extent, had to look at the rhetoric (a concept that I knew little about at the time) that the author, bell hooks, used in her essay, “writing autobiography.” I was a little bit nervous about writing a summary too. Our teacher had explained to us that good summaries were very hard to write, and making them short and fitting them seamlessly into your introduction paragraph was also very hard to do. After I finished worrying, I began to write. Looking back, I feel that my summary was one of the strongest parts of my essay. I managed to get it short and sweet, and fit it into my intro paragraph.
After my summary however, I didn’t really know where to go. I didn’t have a thesis; the rest of it was just words and my personal take on the essay. I also realized that while this wasn’t an essay that I instantly fell in love with, it was an essay that I couldn’t really find anything wrong with it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write a strong paper if I couldn’t even contradict myself in one little way. While revising, I added in a thesis statement, and things started to click for me. Now that I had established a definite point to my essay, I could make my paper flow. And this flow was what I needed to write a strong essay; it was not necessary to have a contradiction of my thesis. By the end of this paper, I realized that I should not stress about writing essays, I just need to take my time and write.

Our second essay went a little easier for me. I didn’t worry or stress about my paper. However it was a challenge for me because I had never really written a paper that was so focused on the rhetoric of the author. The required length of the paper caught up to me toward the end of my fourth page, as my teacher pointed out. Although what I was writing in this section of my essay was relevant to my thesis, I was not effectively connecting it, and my paper started to lose its needed flow. I fixed this with my revisions, and made it flow again by simply rearranging, combining, and deleting certain paragraphs and sentences. I think the problem was that I just needed to let the paper sit for a few days, and then come back to it with fresh ideas. I like how my paper was organized; I picked a rhetorical element (starting with the most obvious) and explained it and showed examples. Then I explained whether it was successful or not and said why. Not only did this flow and transition nicely, but also it was very direct and specific to the point.

I wish that I could have used personal stories and experiences in this essay, as well as my others. This is something that I need to continue to work on. In my first paper I subtly added an experience in, and I think that my other papers would benefit from this as well. I think that personal experienced bring essays to a whole new level. It gives the reader something that they can (usually) relate to. Also, personal stories and experiences are very convincing because they are real. Using them effectively gives the reader solid proof of what your trying to say, because they are so real. These stories also give the reader a connection with the author, by allowing the reader into the author’s life. Metaphorically, it puts the reader and the writer on the same level so they can see eye-to-eye.

My point is that during my quarter in English 101, I have not only learned a lot about writing and rhetoric, but I have also learned a lot about successful revising, and things that I need to continue to work on. This is a never-ending process. As I continue my freshly begun writing career, not only will I continue to improve certain aspects of my writing, but I will also continue to find other aspects that I need to work on. There is always room for improvement; one of the reasons I enjoy writing so much. I know that through writing, I will also learn more about myself and how I work and write; all of this learning is what will motivate me to continue onwards with my writing career, and continue to improve.

Michael Everett

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