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Babcock 1 Michael Babcock Dr.

Jan Reiman English 1101 March 19, 2013 This class has introduced me to the interesting concept of reflecting on my own writing after I’ve completed it. Now, this assignment goes so far as to require a whole paper centered around looking back and thinking about where I’ve come from and looking forward to what I’m interested in exploring further. After the peer workshop, I tried to expand and flesh out some of the paragraphs to better represent the ideas I was trying to express. I think I’ve addressed the constraints and affordances well while keeping in mind my audience, you. I think if I had more time I would look back at places there may be a better way to say things or check if there are ideas and concepts I hint at that could be more fully fleshed out. I’m still getting used to this “big idea” type approach to revision so any comments or directions about things to look for or think about would be appreciated.

Dear Jan, The greatest change I have seen in my own writing since I began college is probably getting over a fear and dislike for writing in general. Since I had avoided practicing writing as much as I could during high school, I was at a loss as to how to handle certain writing assignments. Through this course, I have been exposed to some of composing strategies Lu and Horner talk about in their essay like collaborating and having a recursive writing process. One of the most helpful concepts they bring up is that of first drafts only needing to be “satisficing”, which they define as putting down something sufficient or satisfying knowing you will come

Babcock 2 back and continue to write so you don’t get stuck on a sentence. This has helped me avoid trying to edit or revise too much while I write. Through the course of being required to practice and improve my writing process, I have learned how to overcome the writer’s block that many times crippled my ability to put down enough thoughts onto paper. While my writing process has obviously been enhanced, I’m not so sure my reading abilities have improved in a similar fashion. I find I have much less time to read for fun or out of curiosity when there are always multiple assignments hanging over my head. When I do find time to read, I usually gravitate towards high fantasy or other fictional worlds of escape to forget about the stress and toil of the real world for a while. Books have become one of my favorite ways to relax and rejuvenate my stores on energy for the next wave of assignments. I think the innately graded nature of college learning has also focused my reading of textbooks away from bigger picture understanding and toward picking out the important facts to answer specific questions. Kohn’s essay on grading in schools really resonated with me through thoughts like, “A school’s use of letter or number grades may encourage what I like to call a “bunch o’ facts” approach to instruction because that sort of learning is easier to score.” (Kohn) In this way, books have been relegated to a position of reference for facts I couldn’t memorize rather than being an alternative source of learning and understanding. In general, I still haven’t made it to the point where I enjoy writing all that much. I’ve come to accept it as necessary and useful, but I’d much rather be able to talk to someone rather than write something for them to read. While browsing my computer for an interesting example of a rare bit of writing I actually enjoyed, I stumbled upon some silly whisky reviews (or tasting notes as they are called) I had written. If you haven’t read such reviews by the “experts”, know that they are filled with hyperbole and detailed descriptions of the five

Babcock 3 different fruit flavors they gleaned from smell alone. I found these snippets to be full of unintentionally hilarious phrases and exaggerations and I had to make some of my own (after I turned 21 of course). I don’t often write without an important purpose or assignment, so doing something on a whim was a refreshing experience. For similar reasons, I’m probably most proud of my letter to writing personified, which was one of the Writing to Explore pieces. This piece felt creative and humorous and was unlike anything I have ever written. I stepped outside the comfortable engineering place of technical, formal, and expressionless writing and explored my untapped creative side. Although it wasn’t a particularly polished piece of work, I enjoyed the freedom to write whatever I felt like writing in the moment. For example, I tried to come up with encouraging things for “writing” to say to myself like, “Grab hold of your creativity! Jump into this adventure with me and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Kindest Regards, -Writing.” A scary idea popped into my head while I was writing to writing; namely, maybe writing isn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be. I tried to use this idea in my literacy narrative as well and even titled it “Writing Isn’t the Enemy”. I have realized that perhaps my ingrained dislike for writing isn’t quite as embedded as I thought. Writing as a means of discovering ideas and thoughts like this was entirely foreign to me. I never understood why people would keep a journal or write a blog. Perhaps now, this side of writing makes more sense to me and will certainly be an area I will have to explore further.

Babcock 4 The most disappointing piece of writing I have done this semester would have to be an ECN for my part-time job as an engineering intern. An ECN is an Engineering Change Notice that thoroughly documents specific changes to a drawing or part design. While these are very routine documents that are written daily at my company, they are also considered to be legal documents and must therefore be precise. This particular one affected a large number of parts so it required weeks to finish. Since I had been distractedly working on this assignment around my regular school commitments, I failed to notice a few errors and let them slip through my editing process. Eventually, two weeks after it had been submitted, I received an email from one of the reviewers detailing the numerous things I had missed. At first, I was very frustrated by this negative feedback that actually circled some things that weren’t wrong and said they needed to be fixed. Luckily, after I settled down, it was easily turned into a learning experience for me and taught me to be more meticulous in my work. I think I’ve been doing well at exploring new ways to write and say things in the writing to explore pieces, as well as actually trying out applying a revision process to my writing. I would like to continue to work on my writing process and puzzle out what helps me be a more

Babcock 5 engaging and creative writer. Usually, I feel I can convey my thoughts accurately and concisely but I don’t know if I do it in a way people will be interested to read. I’d also like to incorporate new rhetorical devices and ways of saying things to be more convincing and interesting or to sound more intelligent so I can be more successful when writing for the classroom and my job. In other words, I have good thoughts but I doubt I always present them in the best way. I also want to improve my writing process of brainstorming, drafting, revising, etc. so I can produce works of writing that express my thoughts in a better way and are more polished and coherent. Finally, I did think of a few questions on things I’m curious about. Reading Harvey and Daniel’s piece about reading comprehension, made me realize that I don’t know all that much about strategies for improving what I glean from books. I want to know more about how to improve my reading comprehension skills. How do I take a more conscious and active role in improving what I glean from reading these complex textbooks? How can I know what actually works before I research into methods to try? One aspect of writing I’m interested in exploring is the more creative/storytelling side of things. What would be a good way to begin if I wanted to learn more about writing short stories or simply writing for fun? Another facet of writing I know I need to work on is my revising process. So, I guess my question is what have you found to be the most helpful strategy in your revision process or what would you recommend to me as an essential part of learning to incrementally improve my writing? I mostly ask because I see how critical revision is to writing well, but when I look back at what I write I don’t quite know how to see the things that need help. Thanks, -Michael