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Michael Harvey ENGL 481 / Prof.

Vieira November 7, 2011 How to Write Mike Harvey Welcome to discovering the writing process of Mike Harvey. I can guarantee that you will feel like you know me better by the time you finish reading this paper. For me, writing is being honesty because the words on paper reflect the thoughts in my mind. I find this truth to always appear at the last minute because all the times I have written ahead of time, I insert fluff into a paper. Fluff: the meaningless sentences that tell the reader nothing and show nothing about what I think or feel. To avoid having a fluffy paper I wait until the night before its due and sit myself in front of my computer and just start typing. I wait until the last minute because then there isnt time to lie to my audience. My mindset is simply just say it and that is what I do. I feel that my writing hasnt changed much in terms of diction, since I feel using larger words is an attempt to hide inefficiencies within an assignment. I like to think about things and I dont think about things using huge words like loquaciousness when Im really thinking wont shut up. I choose to keep my language simple because it conveys a sense that I understand the material within my own words and ideas. The introductory paragraph is the most important part of my writing because I believe that audiences are either interested in what youre saying or not by the time you are done introducing what you have to say. I can never write a paper before I am completely confident that my introduction states exactly what I want it to. Now after all that, what has made me who am I as a writer up to this day?

Michael Harvey 2 The first time I ever found a knack for writing was in my freshman year of high school. I entered a essay contest called the Voice of Democracy which was run by the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in my town. One essay would win the national prize, and the writer would receive a $30,000 scholarship. I never believed that I would make it that far but it didnt stop me from sitting at my computer the night before the deadline and the essay seemed to come from within me. The theme for that year was Celebrating our Veterans Service and although I have no copies of the essay readily accessible here or at home, I remember one part that has stuck with me. I said that The young men fighting in World War II didnt have bullet proof armor defending them, it was their hearts and courage that allowed them to survive. This line is all I remember from the essay and I felt it was my strongest and most sincere statement. Within the contest I ended up placing second in district, while the girl who got first place went on to the state competition with a more traditional five paragraph essay. I felt that her essay was this manufactured answer to a question that had no correct response. Now I did think, maybe quite bitterly, that my essay was better at the time, but in that I found she had given them these three pieces of a puzzle that they wanted (she literally talked about a puzzle), while I had given them raw honesty from what I really felt. From this I developed a hatred of the clichd gimmicks that most metaphors are and instead focused on just being honest. I thought that form was more important than the content itself because I didnt win. I started categorizing essays that followed a set form as these factory made ideas that didnt contain anything in term of honesty from the writers heart. From that point on I always did my best to avoid the idea of a five paragraph essay in favor of this more natural flow of thoughts and emotions. Most of high school was spent spitting out the accepted cause and effect paragraphs that I wanted to avoid but I found small chances to be an honest writer through theatre. It wasnt in

Michael Harvey 3 writing plays but in the times I worked backstage, or helped direct that I developed an appreciation for details. I always turned in papers that focused too much on main ideas and concepts but through theatre I began to look for details and used them as a brick to build each argument I made. But I was still nervous about relaying my own feelings within an assignment and constantly found ways around it. During senior year in AP English I constantly resorted to being humorous during presentations with a partner to cover a lack of understanding. When the time came for the last independent project I didnt have a partner, and instead I presented Catch22 by myself. In my presentation I simply said what I thought and told the class what I felt about the various parts of the book. My teacher recognized this and encouraged me to continue to approach presenting in that fashion, which leads to my next development in the way I write. Each paper is a presentation that I have to give without being able to speak so including details and reasoning was necessary so that my point was never questionable and my audience would know what I believed. Sophomore year of college I learned to not be afraid to make a claim that could be argued but to support it as best as I can and to simply hope for the best. ENGL 300 focused on Tales of Economic Disaster and for the final paper I wrote about a character in Frank Norris The Pit. My thesis that: Curtis Jadwins addiction to market speculation and eventual dilapidated marriage are direct results of his faith in dominance, specifically his own. This point was one that could definitely be argued because I was trying to apply a mental diagnosis of addiction to a literary character. For the first time ever I truly went out on a limb to write a paper that I felt was good. The last growth I had in writing was last semester in ENGL 401 when I did my own research about the perceived accents of students at U of I, and how communication styles can completely alienate groups on campus. I discussed the ideas of positively viewed accents and

Michael Harvey 4 styles compared to negatives and consistent inserted myself into the research I was doing because I am a part of the group I was studying. I even classified my own accent (SouthernChicago Southern) in order to better understand where I was coming from in this research project. I learned that I had to understand where I stood on the issues if I ever intended to do anything worthwhile in my writing. In that last semester I really found that I always needed to invest a part of myself into the writing and the process itself. Through that I further developed the honesty I first talked about from freshmen year of high school without following some false medium. I was incorporating myself into words. In writing this paper I even find myself learning that I am more afraid of the perceptions people have of what I write than what Im actually saying in any assignment. Whether its grades or feedback Ive always been worried about being told what is wrong with my writing when in reality I should learn from it. Fear all too often holds me back from doing things in life and I let that fear take over my writing. Writing has always been something I was afraid of as I knew that in trying to be myself on paper that not only was my writing not what they were looking for, but that I wasnt what they were looking for. This might sound like a stretch but it is a feeling I have none the less. It is always present when I write because I dont make discoveries when I right, I already know what I believe and what I want to say. The hard part is finding a way to say it that makes sense for an audience that constantly looms in my mind. My writing is sometimes too personal because I am striving for my own voice to appear in the sentences. I still need to work to find that balance in my style and approach and learn what Im really trying to say when there arent the words to say it.