December 19, 2019
The Evolution Of My Theory Of Writing
Let me share with you my funny story about my theory of writing.
I’m a transfer student from Romania. English is definitely not my first language. In fact, I never liked this language. I remember very well my English classes back in Romania. Our English teacher happens to be our adviser also, a middle age, sophisticated and extravagant woman who never had kids but yet raising and teaching us like her own. She would travel all the time to London back then, so her English was just perfect with an easy England accent but very charming at the same time. She used to be very strict with us, she would put a lot of pressure on us in learning and perfecting English language. She will always say that “wherever you will end up in this world, you’ll need to know how to speak English”, and she was right.
She would ask us all the time to write essays. I never understood why, it was a torture for me. The struggle to write a two page paper at least once a week. It was just too much for us and so annoying. Probably because of that I started to dislike this language and also writing it. But everything was for a good cause I guess. Indeed, I learned the language by force and now that I live in the United States Of America I’m glad that happened back then. Knowing the language I got the chance to study at City College.
Starting my first semester at City College was very exciting for me. But what was not exciting, was the fact that I had to take English classes again But I was wrong. The whole experience was totally different now. Ms. Buno, our English teacher had a very well structured and fun curriculum for this class. She offered us a lot of freedom in writing our paper as long as we respected and fulfilled the conditions of the essay type. Her patience with us was unlimited in every single class. She would take the time to talk to each student and answer all the questions. She also encouraged us to do groups work with our peers and to brainstorm ideas for our future essays. She would ask us to keep a journal with us all the time and write in it as much as we needed to. She would always say, “the more you write, the better you would understand writing”. And that was the moment when I realized the importance of writing. I understand after so many years why my first English teacher would ask us to write so much. That’s how I know today how to write better and speak English better.
All that writing, boring essays and keeping a journal was just preparing us to get better and better at it. But this is a whole process, is not just to take the time and write down a few lines. Is more than this.
In my case for example, there are two ways to create a paper. First, I need to be in the mood to write anything. Or sometimes would happen to me in a train, going to work, or very late at night. And secondly I would have to isolate myself from anything and everyone. As long as I don’t have any distractions, I can stay and write for hours and hours.
Another factor that would describe my theory of writing is to have a deep understanding about what I have to write about. Many times, my essays probably wouldn’t be as good just because I wasn’t clear what my task was about. When I don’t understand the conditions, my essay is also going to be unclear and confusing. But for that we had Ms. Buno to make it clear for us. When this would happen to me, I would just ask in class as many questions as possible so I can remove any unclarity from my notes and give my writing a better shape.
With each essay that we would have to write, I would feel that I was becoming better and better at it. I would understand faster than the other peers what our task was probably just because this time my interest for writing was higher than at the beginning of the class. I would also see that my drafts were better based on my peers and teacher reviews.
Writing each essay was very challenging for me. Each of them was different from one another. The unique style that each assignment had helped me to better understand the differences between them. I think that every paper given had its own purpose. The purpose was to make us develop skills that we never thought we had and also to become better at writing papers and not only for this class.
I remember my first essay done for this class was a fun one. Was a literacy narrative type of essay in which we had to narrate a memorable experience that made us like or dislike writing or reading. I chose to talk about the book that made me think that actually reading is not that bad or boring as long is something that you may be interested in. For the same reason, I chose the title for my first essay ”Genre – the secret to reading”. When starting the essay, I didn’t know exactly how my paper should look like, so probably I wrote it two or three times until I figured out exactly what the teacher was asking from us. It was an easy task but even like that my essay was not structured too well. I would have here and there run-on sentences that would make it for the reader probably a little more confusing. But our teacher reviews helped me and guided me to a better organized paper.
The next essay that I had to write for this class was a source-based essay. This was truly challenging for me. I had to write a source-based article in which I had to describe the rhetorical elements-author and audience, tone and purpose, genre and medium, stance and language-of four sources that I have found in CCNY’s academic database and on the open web on the subject of my choice. I had to choose at least four sources and they had to include a web site, a magazine article, a newspaper article and a scholarly source. This time, I decided to choose my topic based on what’s going on in the real world. I decided to talk about the controversy of teaching about religion in public schools. What took a long time in writing this paper was founding proper sources for my subject. Probably I have been reading at least 20 sources just to choose four good ones for my essay. Once I had them, I started the critical analysis, identifying the rhetorical elements of each of them and be able to name them by giving examples from the exact source. By creating this paper I learnt many useful things. First, I was able to locate research sources within CUNY database and evaluate them for credibility. Second, I could explore and analyze, in writing and reading, a variety of genres and rhetorical situation. I also developed a better strategy for skimming when reading a text, drafting, revising or editing and because our paper was based on different sources, I also have to create a works cited which helped me to better understand how to cite-in documentation according MLA’s system.
In my opinion, what was the hardest essay from the entire curriculum was just about to come. If I thought that the previous essay was demanding and very complex, then the last paper that we had to create was even more complex which I was not familiar with. It was an inquiry-based research type of essay where the cornerstone point was to develop a research question, providing a guideline for it and make sure it would be solid enough just to ensure that the inquiry will be effective. With some other words, I had to create my own article about a subject that I was interested in, but now I was the author, my opinions on the subject in matter would count as stances and the way I decided to express my ideas on paper and organised them was part of my genre and design. So if in the previous assignment I could not give my opinion, in this one I could take a side and enforce it with examples and also I would bring arguments so I can support my thesis. It was indeed very difficult for me to develop that research question. Ms. Buno suggested to expand more the topic from our last essay but also she gave us the freedom to find a new topic if we wanted to. At first I didn’t know how my last essay would help me create my new paper? How those sources from my last writing will help me to write this new essay? I was so confused. All this was happening because I didn’t have it clear how my paper should look like. I started to do my own research about it, I tried to find examples on web pages and I even asked our teacher to give us an example so we can have an idea. The example that she gave us was a real help and a time saver. Also following the Norton book at the same time was beneficial for a better understanding of my task. In this way I decided to continue and explore more my topic from my last essay, going into depths and try to formulate my research question in a way that would actually answer to some nowadays real problems that most schools face: “why and how should we expose students to religion in public schools?”. I found some of my sources from my last essay very useful for my new paper. Some of them would support my thesis and some of them wouldn’t so I have to discard them. By completing this assignment, I was able to compose texts that integrated my stance with appropriate sources using strategies such as summary, critical analysis, interpretation and argumentation. I was also able to practice the key rhetorical terms in my own article.
After each essay, we would also have to write a reflection. Each reflection would show what I knew about writing and how I applied that knowledge to complete the assignments for this class and not only. The purpose of these reflections is to help us develop our abilities to describe what we know about writing. The better I was able to name what I know, the better my understanding for writing was.
I really thought that this class will never be able to catch my attention the way it did. I understand now that the most important thing that helped me to create my theory of writing was actually writing. Writing in my daily journal, writing reflections, basically, every writing done was just another step to a better writing. If at the beginning I would write just because I had to do it, now I would create my papers with so much joy and excitement.
Indeed this writing portfolio reflects deeply the evolution of my theory of writing. Shows exactly what I knew about writing when I started and what I know now after finishing this class.