Reflecting on My Writing
Reflecting on My Writing
This semester has been more challenging than I had anticipated. I have always been a good writer, but I discovered this semester that I had to stretch myself in ways that were not always comfortable. I learned that if I wanted to reach my readers, I needed to understand that not everyone sees the world the way I do. I needed to work with my peers and write more than one draft to understand that a first draft is just a place to start. I have chosen to reflect on two papers, one analytical and the second argumentative. Each shows my growth as a writer in different ways.
For my analytical paper, I chose to write about “Jibara,” by Esmeralda Santiago. My first and second drafts were unfocused. I spent my first draft basically retelling the events of the essay. I think I got stuck doing that because the details of Santiago’s essay are so interesting and because I did not understand the differences between summary and analysis. My real progress came when I decided to focus the essay on one image—the mirror hanging in Santiago’s house, a mirror that hung too high for her to look into. Finding a focus helped me move from listing the events of the essay to interpreting and analyzing those events. I thought my professor would love my analysis, but he found it confusing. Some of his comments were hard to take, but the feedback helped me see my words through a reader’s eyes.
While my analytical paper shows my struggle with focus, my next paper shows my struggle with argument. For my argumentative paper, I wrote about charter schools. My position is that the existence of charter schools weakens the quality of public schools. In my first draft, my lines of argument were not in the best order. When I revised, I ended the paper with my most powerful argument: Because they refuse to adopt open enrollment policies and are unwilling to admit students with severe learning or behavior problems, charter schools are elitist. While revising, I also introduced a counterargument in my final draft because our class discussion showed me that many people might actually disagree with me. To be more persuasive, I needed to address their potential arguments in favor of charter schools. As a result, my final argumentative paper was stronger because I acknowledged that both the proponents and opponents of abandoning charters want improved education for America’s children. It took me a while to understand that including counterargument would actually make my argument more convincing, especially to readers who do not agree with me. Understanding the importance of counterargument helped me in the writing I do for my major, political science.
The expectations for college writing are different from those for high school writing. I believe that my papers show that I finished this course as a stronger writer. I have learned to take risks in my writing and to use feedback from you and my peers, and now I know how to acknowledge the points of view of my audience to be more persuasive. I am glad to have had the chance to write a reflection at the end of the course and to realize that my writing has actually improved a lot this semester.