Monday, October 1, 2007

Self evaluation of the textual analysis essay

My approach to writing this essay was very laid back. I am accustomed to writing papers longer than 2,000 words because my high school has a challenging English department, so I didn’t really bother to start on my essay until the day before it was due. This was a huge mistake because I didn’t realize that the essays I had written in high school were based wholly on facts and the textual analysis essay required my own thoughts. After discovering this monumental error in my thinking at 6:00 in the evening, my process drastically changed. I read David Griffith’s “Prime Directive” another time and then I formulated my thesis. I didn’t have any time left to carefully review my ideas so I included only the things that jumped out at me from the text. I read through the article one more time and took notes next to sections that I thought supported the certain points that I planned to expand upon in my essay. Then I began to write. I wrote my paper all the way through with no breaks and went back through a second time to edit out anything that was too wordy or didn’t make sense. I finished at 3:00 in the morning and wasn’t very happy with my paper. I still think it’s fairly mediocre even after I have revised it.

Next time I will definitely start sooner on my essay and try to begin formulating ideas ahead of time as well. I would like to make more substantial changes to my future essays from the first draft to the final. I also want to write more interestingly in my next essay. I think that my textual analysis essay is very boring and it certainly didn’t have to be. The text that I analyzed was very meaningful and the points that I brought up in my essay were interesting so it’s entirely my fault that my essay isn’t exactly riveting. I think I could have used more interesting words and sentence structure to make my points stand out more. Also if I had incorporated examples from the text in a different way, I think that the essay would have seemed less flat. I didn’t really receive anything new to work on in my peer edits but I think that is because my writing was just adequate enough that it was hard to find something specific to improve upon. I had problems revising my essay for this same reason, nothing stood out as wrong to me so I was unsure how to go about fixing it.

This assignment has changed me as a writer because it forced me to come up with my own ideas to write about. I am not used to thinking for myself in my papers so this was a big shift. My previous English teachers discouraged me from using “I” or expressing my own opinions, it was all about properly citing authors and works. As a person I don’t think that I changed much except that I have maybe become a little less confident about my writing. It’s kind of scary to express my own thoughts with authority in a paper, I am much better at citing other people and focusing more on making my essays interesting. I am slowly realizing, however, that my thoughts are important and that it is perfectly acceptable for me to have definite opinions about things. The way that I read has changed from this assignment as well. As I read “The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis, which I have read a couple of times already, I began to notice more of the symbolism that he uses in the book and the way that his words emphasize certain ideas and give off a certain feeling. This assignment was very different from anything that I did in high school and even though it was much more challenging than I thought it would be, I think I have learned a lot from it.

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