Some background: I work as a columnist for the Michigan Daily. For my final project, I’m working on a collection of essays. For my latest column, I submitted one of the drafts of my essays. The essay topic fit the topic of my column, and I was hoping to get some good feedback to help me on my revision process.
Last semester I took an English 325 class: the art of the essay. Writing a creative nonfiction essay was really new to me. It was challenging to try to find my voice in the genre and especially hard for me to decide what was worth writing about. I constantly doubted whether my essays were worth writing, whether the stories I was picking were worth telling. Nothing that I had to say was groundbreaking or dramatic. My perspective, in my eyes, didn’t offer anything new.
When I decided I wanted to write a collection of essays for my Writing 420 final project, I went through the same feelings. I wanted to pick topics that felt important to me, that were things I thought about and talked about it my day to day life, but I also wondered if I could really, meaningfully contribute to the conversations that interested me.
After my column was published last week, I received an email from my English 325 professor. He wanted to let me know that he’d read and enjoyed my column and that it had made him think. He also wanted to let me know that he planned to distribute it to his class as an example of the kind of writing he is looking for in an upcoming project.
Getting this email meant so much to me. Even though I’ve been working on trying to be able to internally validate my work and be able to look at it honestly, it still helped to hear it from the outside. Especially to hear from someone who was familiar with my writing and had seen me work through a semester of getting to know a new genre. Having someone else tell me that I’m accomplishing some of the things I’m working toward motivated me a lot.
It also made me feel more eager to ask questions of others, to not be afraid of seeking out feedback and critique. There’s a learning curve everywhere, and I want this project to be something I’m proud of. I didn’t roll into English 325 knowing just where to find myself in a new genre, and I’m still figuring things out. That’s okay.