“Honest Reflections from a First Year English Student,” Emily Gillespie (2014) — Inquiry 5

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

Jack Kerouac


I can truly say that English 111 has taught me a lot. I didn’t have the best attitude coming into this class, I just wanted to get it over with. Writing has never been my favorite thing to do, and after years of writing papers in high school, I wasn’t looking forward to a class entirely devoted to it. However, as the end of the semester approaches I am so glad I took English.  This collection of work says a lot about me as a person. In all three Inquiries we were given freedom to choose the subject of our work. In taking time to review these papers for this final Inquiry, it is interesting to see what I value. Given that these were all very honest and intentional; compassion, conscious living and the environment are very important to me. I think what this says about me as a writer is that I, like most people, do my best writing when I am writing about things I care about.

Looking back over my past papers, I see a significant amount of growth. I don’t see the change in my writing style, as much as I can see the improvement in my process. I am proud to say that this course has taught me to be a writer, not just a typist of papers.  I learned about rhetoric; how to identify, analyze, and apply it. I also learned how to revise. Before this class I only made local changes to my paper before submitting it, but now I know how to take a step back and look at my writing from a different perspective and decide what it the best way to present it, even if its feels risky to me. I think these skills will serve me well not only through the rest of my college career, but after this as well.

Aside from becoming a better writer, there are other things I am walking away with. This class helped me to get over my apprehension of asking my teachers for help. For me, it seemed taboo to ask teachers to further explain assignments or look over my work to see how I was doing. I got so much out of my conferences with my teacher this semester that now I feel more confident in approaching my other professors for assistance or guidance.

One thing that I know I need to continue working on is my reflective writing. I think my writer’s reflections have improved quite a bit from the first inquiry, but I still struggle with them. Only in the last inquiry did I feel like had a decent writer’s reflection. I feel awkward analyzing my own work and actually reflecting on it. To deal with that I wrote the things I thought I was supposed to write, so naturally they lacked depth. I feel like my reflections are improving, but I still need to develop the habit of “thinking reflectively”. I think it is an important skill for me to further work on, because it is so useful for keeping your writing focused and actually thinking about what you are doing. Look back (reflectively, of course), I feel like I have gained so much from this course and I am excited to use these tools in the future.