I am taking a First Year Writing Requirement as a second-semester senior. This was entirely by accident. I only decided to enroll because the course is focused on pop culture and music. So obviously it looked interesting! As a MiW, I have taken plenty of argumentative essay courses. Then why am I having trouble starting this first paper? It is a 4-5 page rhetorical analysis that unpacks an interview with Blondie (well, just Debbie Harry and Chris Stein). This should be right up my alley, right? But I just can’t pin down the exact problem, because I think it’s two-fold. First, my professor provided some incredibly confusing guidelines for the paper-writing process that I am not used to. She is almost guiding us too much! For example, she gives us concepts to consider for each text we want to close-read and then we are meant to answer a set of questions of our classmates creation. I feel like I do this process (asking questions of the text) in my own natural way as I start a paper. So, her guidelines may be too constraining. Secondly, I feel pressured to write an interesting and revealing paper in just four or five pages. I have been writing longer papers since my last FYWR, so I simply feel stuck right now and can’t jump in.
What did I do when I felt this way in my other writing courses? The upper-level requirements were definitely more challenging, but they had incredibly open-ended prompts. I don’t enjoy feeling like I have to answer a specific question, so I may approach this paper in a similarly flexible way (while still acknowledging her guidelines). I would like to reveal new perspectives on this interview rather than arriving at any solid answer. Because this Blondie interview is complicated! I won’t forgo the assignment guidelines altogether, but I think I have to just start this paper knowing I will arrive at multiple answers (and finagle a way so that I am not too bogged down by rules). Is that too rebellious? I don’t know. But I am a senior in a freshman writing class and feel like I can be more creative with a rhetorical analysis.