When trying to find a place to start for this essay, I was at a loss. I was assigned an essay in which I must reflect on my freshman English class and how I improved through the semester. I am not one that usually reflects on my classes looking for instances of proof that I learned. I feel that if I truly have learned the class will just follow me through life. The way I usually notice my improvement is either when I am able to make connections or can talk knowledgably about a subject. In that moment of clarity, applying concepts to mundane situations. Then I can look at shadows thinking about trigonometry or think of how an important historical event can relate to my current situation. Moments such as those are what prove to me that my education is in fact transforming me and the way I think. For English classes, on the other hand, the evidence learning is more discrete. It takes a long time for skills to actually develop and I seldom write academically. I also believe the skills are less easily seen because they tie in so closely to the way we think. Words fill my mind constantly but it is a steady stream and it is not formed in the same way academic writing is. If every essay I wrote reflected what my stream of consciousness, they would be a mess.
So although, over time even the way I think has been transformed by my education, this process took a very long time and is hard to notice. So for me, this task was especially tedious. I use the word tedious because it demands attention be focused on the many miniscule improvements a single class has had and then requires putting those concepts into an essay that displays those same properties. And even then, it is difficult to locate which class truly helped me improve.
I am not an English major so it is hard for me to put into words what I wish to communicate. During the course of this semester I have taken a deeper look at my own writing: my process, my grammar, and my style. This wasn’t a primary focus for previous courses. Now my process is more concrete and functional. I write in a stream of consciousness when initially conjuring up a draft, then revise it so the reader can hopefully understand what I am trying to say. Reconstructing my work is my first priority. Then, I look deeper into sentence structure and add any important details that I might have missed. I usually find that in my writing I assume the reader has the same knowledge as I have, which is a mistake I try to pull out during my first revision as well. The aspect of writing in which I can never see my problems is the grammar; editing grammar is a job I must outsource to either a peer or a professor. In the past, I have been told to focus on my sentence structure because I often write in run-on sentences. Although I am aware of this issue, I can never seem to find the problems. This semester was no different in that regard. The problem was pointed out to me, but I found myself not improving. Another issue I have in writing is making my ideas work together to create a clear, continuous essay. The ideas are often separate and do not advance my argument. They often have some connection with the thesis but do not connect to one another, forming one big mess of an essay. My biggest improvement made over the course of the past few years is making my essays flow better. In that way, allowing me to have better organization and structure. A large contributor to this improvement was the process of writing this semester.
‘Intertextuality’ seemed to be the word most discussed in class lectures. According to Harris and Boyd, all texts have intertextuality since all texts use previous texts in some way to be a successful text. If I had a dollar for every time the word ‘text’ was said this semester, maybe I could afford Washington College. But, despite how tired I am about talking about intertextuality, I did learn a great deal about properly including other texts into my own writing. Before taking this class, I often used references to other texts the same boring way. Now, I carry around a whole arsenal of different techniques to blend other people’s texts and ideas with my own. This is a useful skill in any field of study: math, theatre, or whatever my heart desires. As a girl who has yet to decide her major, I appreciate how important and versatile the skill of writing well is.
Writing is a necessary skill to have and my writing skills could definitely use some improvement, so I need all the improvement I can get. The problem is those improvements are far less noticeable to me than the knowledge I gain from other classes. Since I like to see the results, I assume failure with everything I write. This is the reason I lose patience with my writing and find it bothersome to write long drawn out assignments such as this essay. But I have accepted it as a part of my academic career and can now tolerate the process. My next goal is to try and take it one step further and find a way to enjoy writing assignments. If I am able to turn this dream into reality, I figure my writing could improve even more. Although changing the entire way I think is perhaps an unrealistic goal. So for the most part, I’m just glad to be done with the first English class of my college career. It has been very time consuming, but a necessary evil to fulfill my distribution requirements and to graduate.