Jeremy Keeshin Essay on Essays Here is what I know now: The essay starts with a great idea, one

that needs to be written, and maybe you have the chance to say it like no one has said it before. I think I wrote this essay one day after Metaphysical Club during some epiphany where I realized that my struggle to find absolute answers in English class was somehow very interrelated to my math homework. I knew what I wanted to say: One thing is like this, one thing is like that, but they really go together. Now how should I write it? Here is what I know now: The writing process occurs in steps, and although you know what you want to say, you might not say it right the first time. That is it. This is the answer to my revision. But then I continue to read my essay, and now I am amidst my tenth reading and I have noticed something else. It doesn’t sound right. I might have an awkward wording phrase or the idea might appear to be something it is not. I might read a line and think of a new idea that is better than before. Now I have it. Here is what I know now: The writing process occurs in steps, but the idea can be cultivated. You can bring it into a new direction to explore ideas that were barely even suggested in earlier versions. On my second reading I realized that I liked this part more. Initially, this part was only a trivial phrase in the whole of the piece, but on re-reading it appeared to be more significant. This sentence can be rephrased and explore a completely new and unique idea. I can make this sentence say everything I want it to say, and I have that renewed privilege with every sentence. I don’t need wasted words, but I do need those that express my tone and perspective. Here is what I know now: The essay is the ideal format for concise, yet profound views. It is a very open-ended format and the structure is of the most importance. I wanted to replicate the type of structure used in “The Last of the Metrozoids” by Gopnik, where he elegantly intertwines three distinct disciplines to create a larger meaning. I wanted to talk about Math, English, and Metaphysical Club, three separate endeavors in my life that to others may seem distant, but to me seem inevitably linked. I wanted to portray Math as concrete, English as abstract, and Metaphysical Club as the compromise where opposites come together. I could have used any structure: listing, threads, narrative, reflection, argument, but the essay allows the one that is best suited to the purpose. This is the versatility of the essay. Here is what I know now: The essay, being a versatile genre, allows infinite room to excel, but also just as much to err.

Jeremy Keeshin I knew what I wanted to say in my essay and in my mind the point I want to get across is clear. As I write, at times things do not come onto the page as clearly as they were conceived in my mind. There were times when I was careless, when I made a typo or a grammar mistake, or times when I was in so much haste with an idea that I didn’t give it the due time. I wanted to make the point that English has difficult answers; you can’t put English through a calculator and have it spit out the answer. I was careless the first time I wrote this paragraph, I wrote about my struggle, but not nearly with the necessary specificity or examples that I wanted. Here is what I know now: Revision can be difficult. You may not want to accept a change or realize that there is a better way to write something because you liked how you said it the first time. During the many times when I read my essay, I experienced the difficulty of fluctuation. Sometimes, I thought one line was profound, and other times I thought it was pointless. Ironically, in my essay about answers, I struggled to find the exact thing to say. I had this comparison of how Math and English come together in Metaphysical Club. First I wanted to say how there was a person “stretching their arms” over the disciplines. That wasn’t right. Then I wanted to say they “wanted both” or were “listening in on both rooms simultaneously.” I decided it was the “people who have compromised with abstraction and the certainty.” This ultimately was my most delicately worded line, and probably better off from revision. Here is what I know now: The essay is a chance to show everything about yourself and what you see in the world. Being a reader and writer offers limitless possibilities of expression, and with each new experience you can add another layer to your overall understanding of both. In the college essay writing process, they often tell you to “show why you are unique” and “tell your personality” through the essay. Each essay brings with it the reader or writer’s bias and experiences, and I think acknowledging this makes me better at both. When I read Llosa’s piece “Why Literature” I felt intense cognitive dissonance. Some of the things he said didn’t sit right. When I read “Cadwal and Polydore” and “Reading Philosophy at Night” the idea that reading is interactive and continues past the time of reading resonated. Reading essays allows you to get a feel for ideas and allows you to start thinking. I am a major proponent of technology, but Slouka and Llosa tell me to slow down. Reading essays makes you think what they thought. Writing your own essay makes you think more about what you think. Each experience of writing allows you the chance to perfectly articulate what you want to say. We wrote about a work of art, a person, a time when thinking mattered, and a thing that got you mad. I started writing about the thing that got me mad, and I got so involved in the essay that it became too harsh to read. I wrote then “as if my life depended on it,” as Adrienne Rich says. Here is what I know now: This essay has a particular form, tone, voice, and message. Each essay does, and they are continually refined in the revision process to produce the final work that says exactly what you want to say.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.