Well, it’s finally Capstone time. Now I get to reflect on my writing progress throughout the past three and a half years, and I must admit that I’m finding it to be an extremely daunting task. But first: hey guys, I’m Amy. I’m a business major, I’m from just outside of Atlanta, and I’m likely to reference a lot of TV shows in my posts.
Reflection time. I belong to a laundry list of different writing communities, and I had a hard enough time picking two to write about here. I’m choosing to talk about two very specific writing classes, because I spent a significant amount of time invested in each of them, as opposed to my generic communities of business writing, magazine writing, etc…
The first community I want to talk about was my participation in Nick Harp’s English 325 class, creative nonfiction. Nick prefaced the class by saying he does not give out a lot of A’s and this class wasn’t for people whose feelings were hurt by a B. I knew the expectations were high, and that I would have to bring it. This was my favorite class in my 3.5 years of college, and it taught me more about myself and the human experience than I ever thought a class could. I had the freedom to write essays about my difficult grasp on the concept of having a home, a tumultuous and toxic relationship, and my often amusing struggles with OCD and being a type-A control freak. This class pushed my limits and forced me to gain feedback from peers (a practice I typically ignore as I prefer to write assignments the night before they are due). With the freedom to explore different mediums, structures, and tone, I became vulnerable, embarrassed, and likely a better writer for it.
The other community of writers I participated in was that of the students of Linguistics 340, an upper level writing requirement. I’m going to preface this by saying I only took this as an ULWR because I needed it for the minor and Ross doesn’t offer any ULWR courses. By some stroke of fate freshman year, I ended up in a freshman seminar on linguistics, which was all I needed as a pre-req for this class. Here’s the thing: I hated this class and it’s going to come across as I talk about it, and I apologize in advance for my negative bias. So this class was about sociolinguistics, and it wasn’t until after the drop deadline that I discovered I would have greatly benefitted from actually being a linguistics major and knowing a thing or two about the subject. The expectation on my end was to take a class with a couple research papers and call it a day. The very unclear expectation on the GSI’s end was to know minute details about the linguistics world and phonemes and all that jazz and work them into every assignment.
As an ULWR , the professors misguidedly thought we should learn about paragraph structure, smooth transitions, and the proper ways to paraphrase. Needless to say, as a group of seemingly well educated juniors and seniors, we took this to mean that the grading of the papers would be a joke. And yes, I emphasize WE, not just me. Well, the first argument paper had a prompt that gave your side of the argument in the prompt, so the assignment was literally to reiterate our book. The GSI scheduled mandatory conferences after our submissions for every student to talk about our papers and how to improve it. So here I am being a conceited student and laughing before my meeting about how stupid that was and how I’ve never received below a B+ on a paper and just waiting for her to tell me not to change a thing.
Well I failed that paper.
My arguments that I expanded to a broader sense were too broad. My creation of an example to prove my understanding of the material was stupid and I should have just used the example from the book. My use of the term “linguistics” was too liberal. Did I even understand the difference between style and variance? Why did you start with a single word? That’s not a sentence.
Fine, so linguistics class was not the place for attention grabbing intros or colorful commentary on the way environment impacts speech choices. Linguistics was the place to be an academic who sticks to facts. Linguistics was written for the audience of one professor, not for the reading pleasure of many.
It’s obvious from my tone that I preferred the community of creative nonfiction. Which to me, is still a little crazy considering I used to always have an affinity for specific assignments that could be written like a formula. Maybe Nick’s class ruined me for that type of writing, or maybe I’ve just developed a more personal voice between freshman year and that fateful linguistics class. It’s hard for me to even compare these two communities beyond being somewhat academic. To me, my experiences with both fall into contrasting adjectives. But hey, I guess they both really helped me understand how to add purpose into my work.
So here’s the thing. I wrote those awful 2000 words about how environment impacts linguistic style and variant choice, and thought it was ridiculous because no one analyzes their own speech that much. But as I sit here writing about my two communities of writing I realize: that’s exactly what I’m doing, but without my vocal chords. My different communities influence my syntax, word choice, tone, and style. I just happen to understand what those words actually mean.