Thanks to English 101, Michelle, and some great classmates I can confidently say that I can write an essay. There is always room for improvement, and I know I have gained a lot of improvement this last quarter. And I’m glad that this isn’t where it stops, this class has gotten me interested in taking more English courses to further my writing and thinking skills.
This class was full of reading and writing, but more than anything, critical analysis. From analyzing Scholes to Allison to Arora and Abruawa. I think this is easily the best thing I took from this class, because it has opened up a lot of new ways to think about ideas all the way from literacy, luck and the media. I can’t even watch a commercial without critical analyzing it- thanks to English 101. I think a lot of other students feel this way too, because we really hit this idea dead on all quarter. I would say I had an early version of this skill before this class, but not nearly as much I do now. It is imprinted into my mind and I will not let it go. The world needs to be critically analyzed, like Robert Scholes says, to become the, “Greatest patriot’s in our time.” And I want to be that.
I can’t pin point one over arching or important skill that you must know to effectively write an essay. There are so many, and maybe many many more than I have gotten to learn this quarter, but I will share with you one that has helped me out a bit more than the others when it comes to pumping out long essays. It’s this move called countering. When countering you can use an author to support your ideas, but may identify a gap in their thinking. You use a “Yes I agree, but…” and when doing this you are adding to a conversation or even creating a conversation. In my last essay, I used this by countering Dorothy Allison’s essay, This is Our World, as she mentions the jobs or actions of artists and the “majority.” When reading this I agreed with Allison on a lot of her views on the world, but I felt left out. I don’t consider myself an artist, and I felt like being apart of the majority was a bad thing. I didn’t want to be in that category! So I created a new category, so that I (and anyone else in the same boat) would have a place too. I named this category the, “Middle Category,” I know, clever. But this Middle Category was basically in between these two categories and seemed to be stuck. A Middle person, as defined in my essay is, “a person who sees big ideas but doesn’t share them through any form of art.” This is a big category of people and I think many can relate to it. The big ideas were the “dark” problems we have in the world, like genocide, poverty, animal extinction and the like. My essay was basically a talk through of how the Middle Category works and what kind of problems we face, such as how we contribute our ideas without being an artist or in an art corporation, etc. It can be tricky, but I think there are a few ways that we can help make a difference in the terrible things we try to leave out of everyday conversation. And in the things we mask by saying, “Dark” problems, I do it all the time. In fact I did it earlier in this paragraph. It’s a tricky thing, because you don’t want to focus on the terrible bad stuff, but we can’t, (using art terms) “paint over” them. This is getting us nowhere.
So, yes countering, it is a great tool and has helped me a lot in my essay writing in English 101 because it is a clear idea of where I am headed for my readers and a clear explanation of what conversation I am joining. I also like this skill because it isn’t dismissing Allison’s work in any sense, it can still agree with her opinions and still go off another direction. It’s the best of both worlds really. I can share how she’s right in the beginning and then say, well… actually this one tiny part is wrong, but the rest is still right.
This writing skill that I have just described may not work in every essay type, but when you have an idea off of another’s this can be a very useful skill to execute. Whenever you need to show or explain a gap, an objection or a complication, you will now know to pull out this handy skill to perform an effective inquiry of another person’s work, while also including your thinking.
Revision is one of the best parts of writing a paper, in my opinion. I love dragging the highlighter and pens to cross out stuff and give people feedback to help them make a clear case in their paper. But, when it comes to my own paper…It is hard! I have to try and critique myself? I just wrote something, I obviously think it sounds pretty good. Because of this flaw in my editing, I have begun to love conferences with teachers and friends. To sit down and swap papers with some one has so much benefit and I’m learning that. For example, when I went in for my conference with Michelle on my first essay I felt lost. I wasn’t sure where to continue my paper to get the length that was required. And her feedback gave me so many new angles and ideas to work with I practically ran to the library so I could sit down and type all of it out before I lost the ideas. I was so excited to work on a new idea and brainstorm. I now love revising my own paper- with someone. Like she’s said, “Life’s tough, grab a buddy!” So many life lessons this quarter!
As I continue on with future classes and many more writing opportunities I would like to continue working on expanding my ideas when I write. As I mentioned before I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure where to continue in my paper, and I felt like I had mentioned everything necessary. But, when I spoke with other people after they had read my paper we were able to come up with some new ideas and ways of continuing and complicating it even more. I enjoy sharing my ideas with other people as much as I love receiving others, thanks to this quarter. I think that with what I have learned I will be able to continue trying and working towards gaining new angles and complications in my writing. Thank you for such a great quarter.