Before beginning Moore’s English 101 course, I set goals for myself to improve my writing. For a while, I have had a lot of trouble making my essays flow in relation to the original thesis. The primary reason for this was because I never set time to write an outline to follow to keep me on track. I would begin to explore something that would not help the argument I wanted to convey. Through this course, I developed an outline process to organize my thoughts in order to flush them out in the essay. Also, I had difficulty tying each paragraph together with a repeated theme to make readers really understand the main topic and argument of the essay. Adding to these two weaknesses, learning a new form of citation became a bit of an obstacle. I felt a bit overwhelmed at first to have to change everything I know from years of practice. Keeping these three main points in mind, I began writing and editing each essay until I felt satisfied with the results.
The first essay on Dorothy Allison’s This is Our World began on a bit of a tangent. I began exploring the history behind how art changed from traditional Renaissance to Cubism, Dadaism, and now Shock Art. I spent several paragraphs on this and had a lot of fun researching and learning about it. After my first meeting, I realized I had repeated the same mistake I did throughout High School. On my second draft, I shortened the historical part and edited a bit of the wording from the original. However, I still failed to successfully argue my original thesis. After sitting down for a while and creating an outline on what I wanted to talk about, I realized I had to completely rid my essay of the art history and rather focus on Dorothy Allison’s history and examples she provides. Seeing how this flowed, I realized that I was finally overcoming my weakness and began accomplishing one of my goals.
Aside from the tangents I would dive into, I had a lot of trouble relating each paragraph back to my thesis to support my argument. I would make an argument relating to a specific author in my opening paragraph and never mention the author again till the conclusion of my essay. This made my essay seem very unfocused as well. Although I would provide examples to argue my point, I would never relate it back to how the argument had something to do with the author. I made this mistake on the first draft of each of my essays. As I revised and edited them, I began incorporating Dorothy Allison, John Berger, and Susan Sontag throughout their respective essays. By the final draft of each essay, the authors were successfully woven into the piece.
Chicago style is one of the obstacles that continues to give me a bit of trouble. Having practiced MLA format for years, I kept citing my essays incorrectly at first. After spending time understanding the basics of what a footnote is and the differences between a footnote and the bibliography, I finally began citing my papers correctly. I continued to make minor mistakes in punctuation and what to and not to italicize. After purchasing A Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan Barnet and several visits to the writing center, I corrected my citation and feel confident in how they are formatted in the final draft. Overall, I am happy to reference back to Sylvan Barnet’s book and have upperclassman from the Writing Center’s help if I have any doubts about something.
Although I began with writing equivalent to what I did in High School, I steadily progressed to accomplish the goals I set for myself. Each essay had its own hardships for me, but overall I believe I ended up with well thought out and revised essays. Because I do not believe in perfection, I am happy to continue improving as time progresses. For the future I hope to write so that my arguments are stronger, always relating back to my thesis. I also would like to take more time to read aloud my essays to catch any grammar mistakes. Sometimes I still tend to lengthen what I want to say and hope to write in a more concise manner. I strive to be able to create essays which leave readers thinking rather than being something to simply brush off.
Assignment for Professor Randy LoBasso, December 7, 2012