Letter to Future Gateway Students

Dear Future Gateway Student,

Words don’t seem to be coming quickly to me right now. I’m not surprised—it’s finals season and I have been in a robotic work flow for the past few days. Writing this post forces me to be a person again. I guess that’s one thing I’ve learned from this course, that writing really forces it out of you. The “it” may be different for you, but for me it represents a commitment to my thoughts, even when I’m not sure where they are going or if they are valuable. The gateway course taught me that even a seemingly silly, insignificant, or boring string of words is worth writing. That’s what a shitty first draft is for. We talked a lot about the “shitty first draft” in here, which, in all honestly, I am skeptical of. I found myself writing some shitty first drafts in this class, which made those drafts hard to revisit. This became the biggest challenge for me. My shitty first drafts didn’t seem to help my progress, but they made me feel stuck. I felt like there was little hope for them to go from shitty drafts to good drafts. This fear paralyzed me. So, future gateway student, keep in mind that once you write and submit the shitty first draft, you’ll have to read and revise it. It might be painful.

We pretty much have one project that we work with the whole year, which begins with the repurposing project. Choose your initial piece wisely. I chose a personal essay that I hated. In fact, I brought it in the first or second class as an example of something I’ve written and don’t like. Why did I chose it to stick with the whole semester? I thought it would be a challenge that I would grow from. I was determined to turn it into a piece of writing that I felt proud of. Well, it’s the last day of class and I don’t feel that way at all, so if I could go back to the beginning of the course I would’ve chosen differently. Even though I know that choosing to challenge yourself is a good thing. So do that, future gateway student: challenge yourself! But keep in mind that there are no guarantees. You may write a shitty first draft and you may leave with a shitty final draft. Hopefully that’s not the case for you. But that was what surprised me about this course most. I thought I would feel great about writing as the semester wrapped up, but I don’t. I won’t give up on writing. I’m not going to drop the minor. But this class was a reminder that good writing doesn’t just happen. I used to think that I could magically become a great writer, but writing is just like anything else that takes practice and time. So don’t expect to come out of this class as a freshly inspired young writer. Maybe you will, which would be great. It seems like a lot of my peers feel that way. But you might, like me, find out more about what you’re not so great at. You might, like me, realize that there’s a lot more work to put in.

Good luck!

Annie

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