[Created by Me]
Over the course of this year in our English class, I’ve grown as an writer through our class’s explorations of various texts, like the Catcher in the Rye or Grapes of Wrath. Specifically, I’ve changed to be more of a critical reader who is more questioning of authors and their various choices in their writing styles rather than just reading and accepting their words.
Of the various activities that we did during class, I’ve come to find that the ones that had helped me grow the most as a reader and a writer was reading works, doing our own analysis of the author’s writing style for said work, and then comparing with one another and giving each other criticism and encouragement. Before this class, I never really paid attention to how a reader wrote their words but rather their intentions and what they were generally trying to say to the readers. I’ve learned through this class that how the reader conveys their ideas to reader is as important as their ideas themselves. As a result, I find myself paying more attention to the word choice and ordering more than I would have previously.
I believe that I have demonstrated how I’ve come to understand the importance of style of writing through my descriptive essay, which I had modeled very closely to the essay about rice that we were assigned to read and base our essays on. I had read through the assigned essay many times and noted how the author used words and observed that overall structure of the various parts of the essay before starting on my own essay and trying to emulate the author’s writing style yet developing my own style at the same time. My biggest struggle was actually with deciding for the topic of the essay to describe rather than organizing my essay or figuring out how to describe my topic because I already had a solid understanding of how to write a descriptive essay by the time I had started writing.
Another activity that we did during that class that had greatly helped me in my growth as a writer was “Zero-Drafting,” which had forced us to write essays with minimal to no planning at all. This was really hard on me at first since I’ve always had a habit of planning out entire essays before starting on them and then going back and continually revising them until I find my works sufficiently perfect. I’ve learned through writing many zero-drafts how to quickly organize my ideas into cohesive essays and how to stop worrying about constantly perfecting my essays but to simply do as best as I can.
The best example of how zero-drafting had helped me during the year would definitely have to be my argumentative essay for the changing of school starting times. Despite it being one of the first essays we did during this class, we also spent much time on this essays with multiple zero drafts and revisions. My first zero draft for this essay was very disorganized and had ideas all over the place with no support for any of my claims. However, the last zero draft that I had written for this essay had a proper introduction, claim for each paragraph, and even support with evidence for each claim. My final essay that I had submitted was very similar to my final zero draft, though the final product was much more refined due to going through various revisions.
Starting from the end of this class and continuing on into the future, I think I can demonstrate my learning in this class by continuing to read and analyze more novels and continue to write more essays analyzing said novels from now on. I will also continue to practice organizing my ideas by continuing to write zero drafts for various prompts and will also read and share essays to receive feedback to further improve my skills as a reader and a writer.
One of my questions for Catcher in the Rye was: What other means of connecting are there besides words?
My answer for that question after finishing the book is: Action and observation can also connect us to other people. This is demonstrated in the novel when Holden notices the nuns’ suitcases and then offers to “give them ten bucks as a contribution” (page 110). By simply seeing that the nuns had suitcases that weren’t as nice as his own, Holden feels bad for them and wants to help them out, and he does by offering them ten bucks. What is happening to Holden is that a one-way connection from him to the nuns is being formed, and he makes a reciprocal connection by approaching the nuns and talking with them, developing an almost friendship-like relation with the nuns. Another example of this in Catcher in the Rye is when Mr. Antolini and Holden have a conversation about the latter’s future, and Holden becomes sleeping causing Mr. Antolini to suggest that Holden goes to bed. When Holden wakes up, he find Mr. Antolini patting his head and instantly assumes that the Mr. Antolini is a pervert (page 192). I believe what is actually happening is that Mr. Antolini is worried for Holden and is trying to convey to Holden that he cares about him and had no perverted intentions.