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Nicholas Dulerain

ENGW1111 35

Suzanne Richard

Reflection Essay

I remember my advanced writing courses in high school. We were told time and time

again that the techniques we were being taught were fully preparing us for college level writing.

It was always the same thing: write five paragraphs, the first paragraph must contain the thesis

statement, and the final paragraph must summarize of the arguments. It all seems so long ago

now, even though it was quite literally a year ago that we were being prepped for the AP

Literature and Composition exams. Only now do I realize that we were only getting ready for the

exams, and not for college-level writing. They lured me into a false sense of arrogance about

writing, which is how I would best describe my attitude towards writing at the beginning of this


My wakeup call came after our very first assignment. From the start, I struggled with the

lack of basic structure that I had become so used to in high school. I hated having to work with

little to no basis for a prompt, so formulating a thesis statement and stating a position was

exceedingly difficult for me. My first draft was abhorrently typical of the format that I used in

high school; the whole first paragraph was dedicated to regurgitating information that my

audience already knew, and the subsequent paragraphs were used to refute a stance created

through Pratts lens instead of using the lens to further the discussion by looking to material

beyond the given documentary. In the essay, I took a typical debate-style stance on a contrary

position, using sentences like [Pratt] would claim that [RLSHs] are not being seen as they wish

to be seen, that is as an official part of the established crime-fighting community. and then
proceeding to provide a counter claim and supporting evidence. My final draft was not much

better, as it was essentially a rewording with less clunkiness of the first draft. I was initially very

unhappy with the B- grade I received for the paper, but looking back, I can see why I deserved it.

I added very little to the actual conversation and instead let old high school habits prevent me

from breaking out of the mold. So, although I could formulate a stance, a combination of

clunkiness and my inability to add something new prevented me from writing a good paper.

Our second assignment turned out to be easier for me, as although we were given a lot of

freedom, there was still a defined structure for the prompt. Looking back, I probably should not

have chosen to write about something that I was exceptionally passionate about, as my first draft

was riddled with my own biases, leading to confusion about my intended meaning. For example,

I wrote Fox News often caters to a more conservative base in the United States, whose members

are typically more religious than those of the people who constitute the support base of the

Democrat party., perpetuating the religious stereotypes of the left and right. Due to my biases, I

tended to focus on what the articles should have reported instead of focusing on how the use of

language revealed the articles own bias. After getting rid of any hint of my own biases, my

essays intended messages and analyses became much clearer, as I managed to objectively focus

on the articles use of imagery, buzzwords, and dog whistles to help build their respective

narratives. This assignment helped to improve one of my major writing obstacles, making my

meaning clear and understandable, and it also showed me how easy it is to fall into a bias pit.

The memoir assignment was probably the hardest one Ive had to deal with, as I was

forced to go through many old memories to find one that was both relevant enough for the paper

and comfortable enough for me to write about. I think my journey as a writer took a great step

forward with this paper. I emphasized descriptive writing to match the narrative presented in the
memoir, allowing the reader to transport themselves into the dimly lit theater watching me

perform. To convey the experience of realizing my musical craft and evolving as an artist rather

than a student of an instrument, it was important that the reader hears the music while reading,

hence the usage of musical terms and accents, which while some may deem pretentious are

essential in getting the emotional energy across. Due to my reserved personality, however, I did

struggle in expressing those emotions in the beginning and subsequently held myself back in my

epiphany, Because of some excellent peer advice I decided to portray my epiphany about music

as a lens through which we can gain a better understanding of the past and the present. I related it

to geology claiming that you can find the influences of many major and minor historical events

embedded in it. I also showed how music can be used to view the world through a composers

eyes. This way, I could convey my message to people who arent necessarily musically literate.

Ive broken out of the musty old high school mold. Taking this course has shown me that

there is so much more to writing besides debating and rebutting. Ive learned that peer review is

more than just correcting grammar and syntax errors, that it is based on a deep understanding of

the message that is trying to be conveyed and then helping to bring that message out. Perhaps

most importantly Ive learned that some of the best writing comes from an apparent lack of

structure instead of rigid confines, and to be honest that comes off as rather intimidating, because

it upsets many of my long-held views about writing. Ive struggled a lot in some aspects of this

class, but overcoming these obstacles has been extremely rewarding. There is so much more left

to learn about writing, but given the tools and lessons that Ive acquired because of this class,

Im ready to tackle those challenges head on.