Personal Paradox

So, for this week we were asked to discuss competing thoughts which were at least partially contradictory as far as our evolution as a writer. These thoughts manifest in the evolution essay and are something that we must grapple with to create a solid, meaningful essay. I have two that go hand in hand.

Revision is important vs. I’m good enough to not revise.

It is a self identified fact that my biggest writing flaw is a lack of revision. I don’t go over my work nearly enough. Because of this I end up with dumb mistakes and shallow messages. Sure I can make this mess pretty, and someone might not realize that I didn’t put extra thought into the piece…but writers know. I know when I look at the piece again. My teachers know when they grade. I’ve gotten a lot of messages that are summed up as: this is good work, but needs more revision to connect and string through theme, or where exactly are you going here, and this is close to potential, but needs more thought. I always seem to come up a little short because I won’t go back and do the necessary re-writes and edits and final polishing and teasing out of a central theme and bringing that theme out through an entire project. I guess I am a lazy writer sometimes. I think I am also a bit vain at times. I do actually feel as if I’ve written a perfect draft after five hours of typing a paper (beginning-middle-end). There are many times that I don’t even go back over this rough, rushed draft…and to be honest it usually works out. However, once I got into upper level writing the chinks in my armor were exposed. I was specifically called out in my evaluations for lack of necessary revision. I still attacked my papers with the same attitude and as a result received the worst grade I ever have in an English or writing class. The kicker here is that my dad has the same problem…and I’m pretty critical of him for not revising like he should. He has published two books, and is about to release his third ( a sequel to the second book).  While I think that he is a good story teller, and I credit him highly for constructing a story that spans 300+ pages and connecting the dots, I think he could be so much more. I know for a fact that he has read literature from all over the world and from many different times. He knows what good writing is, does, feels like, and looks like. He is smart enough to produce writing that at least moves in that direction. And yet, after writing a book for nine months he gives it a two month break and then revises for about a week, maybe two. And bear in mind that he isn’t a professional writer so the actual revision that is happening isn’t two weeks of nonstop revision. The effort into the rough draft is completely imbalanced to the work that goes into the final, he also spends the revision time making the book cover! I’m not knocking my dad, but just pointing out my own problem on a larger scale…5 hours of writing to 5 minutes of revising is basically nothing. Moreover, it’s even worse on me because I know better and I know that it is my primary problem in writing, and yet I still don’t revise like I should. I’m working on it! One great thing about this capstone class is the high stakes which will require the revision or else risk embarrassment and failing grades.

My love for writing vs. Only writing for school

These two connect in the phrase “I guess I am a lazy writer sometimes.” I think writing is potentially the thing I can be best at. I play music and have good reviews by people who here me, but I don’t really like to brag because there are so many better musicians. I was okay at sports. Understanding high level writing at a young age, through reading, and then eventually starting to form complex metaphors and messages in my own writing made me feel gifted. That is the one area that I (at least used to) brag about. Of course there are countless writers out there that are better than I am, but I truly feel like someday I could have my name in a book with them. Maybe not, and who cares either way, but I think I’m good. Even with that confidence and passion though, I don’t really do a lot of writing outside of school assignments. I populate my free time with friends and video games, and an array of social events to the point that I don’t really give myself the free time necessary to write. This is a huge problem. On one hand I don’t feel too bad because I like my life and the people in it and the way I live (mostly). On the other I feel like  I could have written a book by now if I followed this passion and shut out the other stimuli. For this reason, I am very excited for the capstone project. I will actually be forced to apply myself to a writing venture of my choosing, that I am interested in, and that will require the work and level of thought to make it a high quality piece that I can be proud of. I am grading against my own expectations and ambition, not a rubric. I feel that the capstone project will help me to fix…or at least find a path through my writing deficiencies.

Contradictions in the Writer’s Evolution Essay

Hi everyone,

As we in the Capstone class embark on the process of now editing our Writer’s Evolution Essay draft, I wanted to pause and reflect on the contradictions that are emerging in my first draft of this essay. As I was writing I definitely noticed that there were contradictory sentiments arising out of my essay. I resisted the urge to press ‘backspace’ and instead continued to power through my first draft as organically as possible. It turned to to be quite messy which I took as a partial victory because in that mess there was a lot of truth. However, I did find myself questioning why so much of what I wrote seemed to twist back on itself.

One thing I mentioned is how much less I seem to write as I get older. I seem to write only when it is demanded of me and less and less for myself. When I was younger, it was just the opposite dynamic. Yet, I also cover how I continue to use writing constantly as an outlet- something I covered extensively in my initial ‘Why I Write’ essay. These two facts definitely seem at odds. How can I continue writing as an outlet if I am writing less? Is this just a biased perception of myself or are one of these claims blatantly incorrect? As I weed through the revelations and challenges that came out of this first draft I think many of these contradictions come from a variance of perception. While in the thick of this class, I feel like writing is something I don’t do enough- at other times, I feel like writing is an inherent part of my life. The way I view my writing is circumstantial to my current viewpoint and therefore its changes.

As I now look to revise this first draft I think its important not to view these contradictions as challenges to be tackled but as nuances to be fleshed out. Something seemingly contradictory is probably only scratching the surface of a deeper, more complex explanation. By allowing myself to create a non-linear but truthful first attempt at this paper I am hoping now I can begin to make meaningful, deeper connections. This paper is undeniably challenging and I see many of us encountering the same struggles but I do believe that is only going to make the pieces stronger in the long run.


Unsettling Contradictions

The first set of claims I felt uncomfortable making, mainly because of their contradictory nature, had to do with the genre of writing I most closely identify with: creative nonfiction. A large portion of my essay deals with my transition away from creative fiction writing and toward creative nonfiction writing. In my essay, I explain that creative nonfiction writing, for a number of reasons, has become the writing I love and enjoy most, as well as the writing I am best at. Toward the latter parts of my essay, however, I blatantly contradict my claims. As a former intern at Hearst, I have gained access to the corporation’s editorial database, one that allows people within the Hearst community to submit creative feature stories to potentially be published by its national titles. Thus far I’ve submitted three stories, none of which been picked up. Instead, I’ve received a “declined” notification alongside my submissions- time and time again. How can I confidently and truthfully claim that I am “best” at a particular writing form, if nobody of higher status (aside from a professor or two in an academic context) has validated this notion? I leave this issue sort of unresolved, as my contradictions do not make much sense.

The second set of claims I felt uncomfortable making, also because of their contradictory nature, was the evolution I underwent as a seven year old when my parents told me, time and time again, that I was a talented writer. At first, I claim that these moments of direct and positive feedback were moments of transformation. My parents telling me I was a talented writer gave me a sense of identity in the world. It helped me to believe in myself and more clearly view myself as a “Writer” with a capital “W”. Later, however, I contradict myself, claiming that these moments were not true moments of transformation; rather, they were simply moments of encouragement. I then go on to say that the times I truly learned, changed, evolved, and became better was when I received criticism or suggestions or some form of feedback that made me revisit my writing, or even rethink my interests in and passion for writing. Not only are these claims contradictory, however, they are also sort of unsettling. Can we only become “better” if we are told we did something wrong, and taught how to fix it? Can we become “better” through mere praise? In retrospect, I do not feel I found time in my essay to illustrate the latter: positive evolution through positive feedback.

Overcoming Contradictions

In creating the Writer’s Evolution Essay, we have discovered that a major concern is presenting contradictory claims. More specifically, writing this essay necessitates making claims which are exclusive, whether it be a result of conflicting evidence or simply inconsistent thoughts. These contradictions create tension in that we must either leave something out to make it work, or change the overall argument.

My Writer’s Evolution Essay centers on the idea of evolution in terms of my approach to righting. I aim to argue that I used to view writing as a means of creating a product with a very defined and strict process, whereas now I view writing as a learning experience in itself with less of a focus on process and more of a focus on personal growth and expression. A major contradiction of my essay is that I write about doing well by doing what I am “supposed” to do versus doing well by “rejecting” the writing process. At the same time that I argue for a rejection of the process, I discuss the benefit I have gained from process over time (i.e., taking writing classes and improving my writing style in specific ways. I have yet to decide how I will overcome this contradiction, but I think this tension is what makes my argument more nuanced and I hope to be able to account for this contradiction and make it work.