English 101 Essay
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I trudge up two flights of stairs with the wind whipping at my face as my fingers feverishly click out the final text message I need to send before class starts. I walk into the warm, musty computer lab and sit at my usual spot with the view of the library through the tree limbs. I am always sure to come to English class because I know of my terrible history in this subject area. I have always struggled with English and before this semester had assumed that the college level class would be the death of me.
As I read over the syllabus for this class it states that we will learn to understand writing assignments as a series of tasks and develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading the assigned papers. I shuddered at the sheer thought of having to write five papers. Narrative, Evaluation, Profile, Position. These words might as well have been written in another language because I had no idea how to differentiate between them. Despite my fears, I believe this semester’s English 101 course has truly helped me develop my writing skills and advance to a more capable writer.
Throughout my life English has always been my most difficult subject. Even back in elementary school I would have 100 percent averages in all of my other classes except English. I do not know what it was that challenged me so much but I had a terrible time. With the start of my high school career coincided the beginning of my paper writing experiences. I would work for hours each day trying my best to write a paper that made sense and would flow smoothly between paragraphs. My countless hours of work, however, never seemed to pay off.
Every single paper that I had returned to me from my teachers was always covered in bright red Sharpie marker, usually with a large “B” circled somewhere on the front. The words “hard to follow” were usually emblazoned somewhere across the top and then throughout my paper in that same smelly red ink. I would continue to read over my paper and try to understand what they meant by hard to follow. When I would go home and ask my mother, a journalist for the newspaper and obviously an excellent writer, why they had written that she would carefully scrutinize my work. Your teacher is a really nice person apparently because I would not have given you such a high mark,” she would say. I just assumed that there was some good-writing gene somewhere that I had not received. My younger sister definitely had and my mom sure did, but I had somehow lost in the gene lottery. Registering for classes this summer at Bama Bound I was hesitant to click “Add Class” when it came to English. I had assumed that my poor previous track record was only foreshadowing of the terrible time I was going to have in English class in college.
The first paper I was assigned at the start of my college livelihood was a literacy narrative that was based on digital media. I read over the requirements and just shook my head. How was I supposed to write a paper that told a story without confusing people? I spent numerous hours composing a rough draft to be submitted electronically to have some of my peers edit it. When I went back to look at what the comments stated I was shocked. There was not a “hard to follow” anywhere. What had happened? Had I suddenly inherited the gene that I had been missing my whole life?
No, that would make things too easy. I was unaware of what the true cause of my improvement was but I read over my paper and made the necessary changes before turning in a final draft. As I read the paper now I notice that the paper is still a little bit choppy and there are definitely some grammatical errors but overall, it is not a terrible paper. I am proud of my work and of my improvements as a writer. A few weeks later my English class was assigned a second paper of the semester. We were to write an evaluation paper of a movie or event.
The second I heard that we were allowed to write a paper on a movie that we enjoyed and could properly critique I knew what I was going to write about. I was going to write about my favorite movie in the whole entire world Miracle. Just the thought of this movie makes me smile, I loved everything about it and I assumed I would love writing a paper about it. My thoughts were quickly changed, however. I struggled with this paper because I felt I almost had too much emotion involved. I was so wrapped up in the amazing story that I found myself being very repetitive in my writing.
I would state the same thing over in over but just reworded it a little. This was definitely a negative aspect of my paper as well as the apparent punctuation and grammatical errors. Overall I had enhanced my writing skills and it was progressively becoming easier to write papers. A profile paper was the next hurdle that I was going to have to get over. I had never written a profile paper before and found myself rereading the section about writing a profile in my English book. The examples in the book were dripping with amazing imagery and detail.
I did not think I was capable of finding that much to say about something. I was not sure what subject matter I was going to write about at first, we had the option of writing about football game day or a place somewhere on campus. It was not until that night that I decided what my topic would be. As I walked home from the dining hall I began to notice certain unique things about the street that I lived on. “This would be the perfect paper,” I thought to myself. The following evening I left the dining hall with a napkin and pen and as I walked back to my dorm room I wrote down everything that I noticed.
Everything from the foul smells coming out of Paty Hall to the poorly parked vehicle in front of Somerville. When I returned to my room I scrutinized the black ink that was scattered everywhere on the napkins. I had a proper subject for this paper and definitely had enough information to write a strong one. The profile paper ended up being the easiest paper for me to write. I could accurately describe the locations while still giving it my own flare. I had a few grammatical errors and some run-on sentences but overall it was an excellent paper.
I had taken something that I was nervous about writing and turned it into something I can look back on and be confident about. The final paper that I was assigned in English 101, aside from the paper I would be writing for my final exam, was a paper arguing a position. As I read over the criteria for writing this paper I am sure there was a slight twinkle in my eye. I was allowed to argue with someone. Perfect. I started pondering about subjects and did not know at first what I would be writing about. As that day passed I soon realized what it would be that I would write about.
The only problem with my topic was that I had a lot to say about it without a whole lot of information to back it up. I narrowed down my topic and after creating an appropriate web of ideas I felt much more secure with my decision on a subject. As I uploaded my final draft of my position paper I was impressed with my own work. There were quite a few run on sentences and still some grammatical errors throughout my paper, though. I thought I had argued my position well, however, and my call to action was sincere. After completing all of my papers I began to think back on how much I had changed as a writer.
I went from someone who struggled terribly and could still only create a mediocre paper to a student that was much more confident about her writing. The combination of an excellent professor and a book that tells you everything you could ever possibly need to know about writing a paper helped me advance my writing skills. My experiences in English 101 first semester of my freshman year at college will forever help me to improve as a writer and attain that confidence in English that I have always had in other subject areas.