When I was writing my college writing sample for UofM, I thought that I was going to test out of the first year writing requirement. I didn’t. Not only that, but the first year writing class that I signed up for (Salem Witch Trials) ended up just being the normal English 125 course. To this day I have no idea how that happened – but we will get to that. Needless to say, I was confused and a little annoyed that I was going to have to write what I thought were “high school papers.” Can we take a moment to laugh at freshman year me? Who did I think I was? At 18 years old I had already decided that I knew all there was to know about writing. I thought that there was no room for improvement.
The papers I wrote in that plain old English 125 class are some of my favorite pieces of writing – not because they are amazing and extremely cohesive, but because they are not. They are messy. They are real. I wrote about my mother’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I wrote about my insecurities coming from a small town and transitioning to a big school. I wrote about the first time I broke a bone. But most importantly, these pieces of writing were written at a time in my life when I was realizing just how much I didn’t know. Lynn Hunt writes, “[O]ne is not born a writer but rather becomes one.” I came into college thinking that my success in high school would automatically carry over to college. My freshman year, I failed a class. I turned to English 125 to vent. I invested my time into writing because I could not bear to open up my chemistry textbook. I learned how to write without constraints because of my constraints. English 125 became my safe haven.Realizing that there was so much more to writing than meeting the word count and getting an A, I began to respect the process of writing. I began writing drafts; something I never did in high school. I began revising and revising and revising and revising. But I have since stopped. Now comfortable in all my courses, I no longer turn to writing classes for shelter.
I want to continue this process of revising and reconstructing in the minor in writing program. Now a junior, I find myself cutting corners again when it comes to papers because I believe I have the equation down. There is always more to learn when it comes to writing and I need to remind myself of that. It is easy to get comfortable in a routine and I find myself fighting the urge to settle. I need to stop looking at papers and thinking, “It’s good enough.” The goal of this journey in writing is to improve my process. Whether I am writing a paper about ethics or a poem about my mom, I need to get comfortable with the notion of, as Lamott says, “shitty drafts.”