“Looking Back,” Brooke Schoolcraft (2014) — Inquiry 5

In all honesty, English 111 has made a strong impact on me, both personally and as a writer. Before classes started, I was dreading having to take an English class because I knew that I would have to write papers, and writing has never been my strong suit. However, English 111 ended up being my favorite class of the semester. This was absolutely unheard of from me. I have hated Language Arts and English classes ever since I can remember. When I say hated, I do not mean disliked, I mean hated. I always found myself bored and without a clue as to what was going on. I got the grades I wanted, but I hated the process. If one thing is for sure, it is that I rarely cared about my writing. I am still unsure of the exact reason for my fondness of English 111. If I had to guess, I would say that it is a result of the writing prompts being broader than those I received in high school, allowing me to incorporate more of what I like. This leads me to the aspect of this class that impacted me most heavily, which is the fact that I enjoyed writing papers. For once in my life, the quality of my papers mattered more to me than the grades I received.

Throughout high school, I had only one goal in mind when writing papers. That goal was to please the teacher. I would simply write what I thought he or she wanted to hear in hopes of getting a good grade. However, it never worked as well as I wanted it to. A typical essay grade for me was a high B. I wanted an A, but I did not care enough to pursue that goal. I would usually write essays as quickly as possible without even taking the time to read over them, and I never made revisions. I obviously did not care, and my work, or lack thereof, reflected this.

In English 111, my mindset changed. I began to actually care about my papers. My goal was now to please myself, rather than my audience. I worked hard to write to the best of my ability and to reach my full potential. Inquiry 1 was a good starting point because I was able to write about a positive occurrence related to my writing. This allowed me to begin the course with a positive mindset on writing, and, fortunately, I was able to maintain that mindset throughout the semester.

At first, I thought that the nature of Inquiry 1 was just luck, and that I would not enjoy writing any of the other papers. I was wrong. I enjoyed writing Inquiry 2 even more because I was able to write about John Mellencamp, whom I love more than words can describe. I was so happy because I had never had this opportunity before, and I do not expect people to understand why I love him or his music so much, but I loved every minute of writing that paper. Upon receiving the assignment for Inquiry 3, I did not think that I would enjoy writing it as much due to the fact that it was a research paper, but I did. Although the prompt was not as broad for Inquiry 3 as it was for the previous two, I was still able to shape my paper into something that interested me. I felt very confident in my argument and in the paper as a whole, but I was still astonished by the grade that I received. I truly felt proud of myself, and realized what I am capable of accomplishing when I care about my writing. Even though Inquiry 4 did not involve writing, it was still a step in the right direction for me. I had not enjoyed multimedia projects in the past, but I obviously enjoyed Inquiry 4 since I was able to revisit the topic of John Mellencamp. Receiving enjoyment from each of the assignments for this course made it so much easier, and it not only made me do better, it made me want to do better. I felt that each piece of writing reflected me as a person, so I wanted them to be the best that they could be. I hope to be able to carry this sparked interest in writing with me throughout my life.

In the future, I can only hope that I will be able to enjoy writing as much as I have in English 111. If I am not interested in the prompt at first glance, I am confident that I will be able to make it into something that does interest me, and enjoy writing about it, as I did with Inquiry 3. Another approach that I could take is to relate a situation in a prompt to a situation that I have experienced, so that I can write about it in an effective and knowledgeable way.

Without a doubt, I feel that I have made significant progress, particularly in writing, since I began English 111. I no longer dread the process, and I now see it as a liberating experience. I say this because I genuinely felt good after writing my inquiries. I felt that I had gotten meaningful ideas onto paper that had existed in my head for years. The enjoyment that I experienced while writing papers was the most impactful aspect of this course, but our in-class discussions were a close second. I feel that these need to be mentioned because I do not think that I would have been able to come up with ideas for my papers without them. The discussions that we had really made me think, and lead me to topics that I loved. Even though I did a lot of thinking during class, it was always a stress reliever for me because I got to spend time developing ideas for papers that would show who I am and what I had to say.

My love for writing papers this semester has had a strong impact on their quality. When I realized that I was enjoying the process of writing, I knew that the quality of my paper was going to be better than usual. This was very important to me because I actually cared and wanted them to be strong papers. I spent a lot of time brainstorming, and even more time making revisions in order to craft each paper into exactly what I wanted it to be. I knew I was making progress when I started to care more about how well-written my papers were than I did about the exact grade that I would receive. I will always have fond memories of English 111, and I know for a fact that I will never forget the impact that this class had on my writing.