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.

2 thoughts to “Personal Paradox”

  1. Anthony,

    I couldn’t help but laugh while reading your post, because the level of thought and quality of writing that you invested into this blog post, seem to contradict the lack of effort/revision point that you are making. Since contradictions are the topic of this post, I appreciated the contradiction within the contradiction. (Although I did find one giveaway of your lack of revision – here vs. hear. Caught ya!) Anyway, I would definitely agree with you, you are a talented writer. I think that you touch on a really interesting dilemma for someone who writing seems to come so naturally to. If you know you are good, it must be hard to force yourself to dedicate a substantial amount of time to revision. What I would mention as encouragement to place a larger emphasis on revision, is that you don’t yet know your full potential. Why be a good writer without revision, when you can be an incredible writer with revision? Why sell yourself short on what you consider to be your best skill? However, it sounds like you don’t really need me to tell you this, since you seem to be very self aware when it comes to this issue.

    I also just wanted to share a few thoughts on what I appreciated about the writing style of your post. I loved your careful formatting decisions – centered headings, bolded statements, the link to your dad’s website. I thought that these choices gave the post an extra level of energy, and as the reader, I was excited to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Nina

  2. Dear Anthony,

    it is crazy how much I relate to this post. I often find myself with similar responses in critiques about my lack of revision. I love to write and to get things out of my mind and onto paper but I struggle to keep motivated when working with a piece for a long period of time.

    It’s funny that you bring up the problem of getting away with standard writing in other classes but that the capstone course is requiring you to put out true, authentic and good writing. For some reason throughout this semester, I have been tasked with the job of writing papers on the weekly for classes that are not english based. I have caught myself, on many occasions, writing at a level less than my full ability just to get the information I need to into an essay and then press the submit button because I could get away with it. My environment class GSI is smart but I know he will not be looking for top quality writing while grading that paper. Is this counterproductive? Or maybe a waste of time? Probably, but at this point in the semester, as students of this university, we must prioritize.

    Thanks for sharing Anthony! I look forward to hearing more from you throughout the rest of the semester!
    Best of luck with your project.
    Caroline Petersen

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