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Dear Dr.

Blackburn,

This portfolio is a summation of my work whilst I’ve been in RC-1000. I feel that I have

grown immensely as a writer throughout this course. For the first time, I was given the freedom

to express myself rhetorically, free of the constricting, specific prompts of high school, with my

work mainly being confined to the essay format. It felt like I was writing the same paper, merely

with a different topic. My expectations for writing in college were nearly the same, just with

more difficult prompts. I am pleased to say that I was so profoundly incorrect in this simple

assumption.

Throughout the semester, my process as a writer has become much more complex and

dynamic. Previously, I would merely read the topic and quickly blurt out the best response I

could in one sitting. I have learned to create outlines to plan out my writing, safeguarding me

from the overwhelming nature of some of our projects, if not handled properly. These outlines

also allowed my writing to become much more organized, as I had time to plan out how I wanted

to address each subtopic of my prompt, fixing a very prevalent issue with my writing through

this simple technique. Viewing writing more as a process rather than as a single trial that must be

rushed through has made writing as a whole more relaxing and has made me view it with far less

contempt, even becoming enjoyable for me. I will continue to embrace this process

wholeheartedly when continuing to write, due to its profound effect on the nature of my writing.

In this newfound process of writing, I have learned to think about each subject written

about with much more care and sensitivity compared to the rather immature point of writing that

I was at when beginning this course. Before, I would merely read the prompt of whatever

assignment needed to be completed and do minor research before hastily beginning my process,

or lack thereof. In my new process, formulating outlines made me realize how multifaceted each
topic could be. In my rhetorical analysis, if this had been written in high school, I likely would

have merely analyzed the happy-go-lucky, optimistic tone of McDonald’s “Recommitment”

commercial very generally. With my new process, utilizing an outline allowed me to become

thoroughly aware of the multitude of rhetorical aspects within the commercial that needed to be

covered on their own, that could not merely be overlooked, as they made up important

components as to why the commercial was so rhetorically robust.

Through this use of outlines, each assignment became much more complex as I became

more aware of subtopics and important counterarguments that needed to be addressed within my

project. Within my research project, I learned how to thoroughly investigate a topic, as I was

forced to find credible, informative sources. Shamefully enough, in previous research projects, I

would find a multitude of sources that were of questionable value, merely hoping to be able to

state that I had the required number of sources. I put little thought as to where my information

was coming from, and why the source would even be valuable to my writing. I feel that the

annotated bibliography assignment made me very aware of this oversight, as I was required to

explain the authority and credibility of the research used within my work for the first time. My

research process has greatly improved due to this course, and, in my opinion, the most valuable

skill that I have gained, as being able to properly support my work would be a vital skill in my

college career.

Over this course, I feel that my strengths as a writer were enhanced. I was always able to

use intricate language to make a successful, rhetorical argument, while managing not to be too

pompous. The order added to my writing over the semester allowed this language to take form as

a thought-out argument, rather than being more akin to crazed babbling, as it was in high school.

I am also able to infuse and express passion for my subject with this rhetoric, but this does have
its disadvantages. Though organization in my writing has been vastly improved, an issue that still

hasn’t been fully weeded out would be my use of run-on sentences. When I get passionate about

the subject of which I am writing, it becomes difficult to stop and organize my thoughts, and I

just continue, going on and on, and the result is a very cluttered sentence that takes the space of

three. Luckily for me, our in-class peer reviews have allowed me to become aware of these

sentences and see them for what they are, not a necessary evil, but a dreadful mess to read, due to

another person being to describe my projects to me.

I very much enjoyed learning through this course as I hadn’t been able to in high school.

I’m beginning to enjoy writing for the first time in my life, as I am finally becoming able to

understand it, making it much less of a frustrating and daunting mess, and more of a pleasurable

experience in which I get to express myself. I thank you for your role in evolving my writing

process, and I hope that you know that your efforts are very much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Matthew Van Vliet