“This Is the End: Sustained Reflection,” Victoria Williams (2014) — Inquiry 5

Dear Victoria Williams,

I applaud you. You’ve decently made it through the mandatory K-12 schooling. You’ve made it through the No Child Left Behind Act, public school, private school, AP testing, the ACT, SAT, and what feels like every other standardized test known to man. Now, the next question is: what are you going to do with your knowledge? You can do what’s always been assumed you’d do. You can go to college! You can go to law school! You can get a job at a prestigious law firm in Columbus, have a huge home, settle down with someone you care about, and have a beautiful family. You could even pursue another hobby of yours. You can draw! You can take care of children! You can volunteer! You can write! But whatever you do, for the love of all that is right in the world, do not pursue anything involving formal writing.

How about we send you off to college? How does Miami University sound? Get your undergrad in engineering. That’s steering clear of formal writing, right? For the most part? Oh, God. You have to take a freshman English composition course? You’re in trouble. At least, that’s what you would have thought after your years at your high school. Yes, Columbus School for Girls was a college preparatory school designed to push its students to prepare them for college, but in doing so, CSG also managed to discourage its students and convince them that they were bad writers. It’s a good thing that your love for words is so strong that no grade can sever the bond.

After years of writing short stories and poetry, as you began to try to write a novel, you strengthened your ties to words. You imagined your words as fragile as doves with flightless wings, struggling to survive on their own. You cared for them, loved them, and nourished them. But as time went on, you grew confident in your ability to express language and took an Advanced Placement British Literature course. After that course, your words turned to flames and burned you with each stroke of the keyboard. Between you and the teacher stood too many differences in writing styles. It discouraged you and made you feel like your beloved words betrayed you. That’s why your New Year’s Resolution was to journal each day. You had to regain your love for words. You had to reconnect. Who knew your first college English composition course would have the same effect?

After getting D’s on high school English assignments, coming to college and getting A’s on my writing assignments has refueled my love for words. It showed that even if words have the power to scorch you, you have the power to burn them back. You can show them that you’ve learned how to cater to your audience to get the grade you want. You can go back to your high school and have your English teachers read your essays. They might still find faults in your writing, but just because they find faults in it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer. With it being the end of the first semester, I’ve come to terms with the fact that words don’t make the person, but the person makes the words.

Thinking about the person I am after my first semester of college and the person I was before coming to Miami, I see a distinct difference. I’ve learned how to enhance my writing to correctly convey my message. I’ve learned how to write to my audience, not just to my most important reader who may or may not be grading my work. I’ve learned that words are what we make them and they can be misused very easily. I’ve learned that language can vary depending on the people, but all language has emotion behind it to bolster it and create a connection between the individual communicating and the memory attached.

As you go on to your second semester of college, I hope you continue to find courses you enjoy to take. I hope you continue to expand your vocabulary and continue to use words to your advantage. I hope you utilize your teachers and you keep the thought in mind that words are not your enemies, but they are your friends. Even criticizing words can be used to better you as a person. Don’t be afraid of the teacher or of the grade you get. Just give it your all, and go for it.

Rewarding Aspect

My most rewarding aspect of this English 111 course was the ability to come into a room I’m entirely unfamiliar with, and with students I’ve never met before, tense as ever, simply to be calmed the moment you stepped into the classroom. You played music and made the environment relaxing and calming for a required English composition course every freshman had to take. You managed to relieve your students of stress of one of their first college courses ever and to make them want to do work and do it well. You made learning fun and engaging and made me want to go on writing forever rather than doing my other work. It was a marvelous feeling.

I learned that in order to be the most productive and to be the most successful in what you do, you have to be mentally ready to take on such a task. You can’t be distracted. You have to be mentally isolated to not get distracted. You have to be ready to do the best you’ve ever done each time. You have to break huge assignments up into small, quick, and easy tasks so that even if you procrastinate on the little tasks, you don’t jeopardize the whole piece. Because of the strategies my teacher provided me with, I should be able to carry on through the rest of my college career, as well as beyond college. I can take these traits and apply them to my life whenever I have a large task at hand or something that carries potential to cause stress. I’ve finally come to realize the meaning of “divide and conquer,” since I’ve applied it to my life. I can only hope to use it in the future when it comes to procrastinating on homework assignments.

Challenging Aspect

To be completely honest, I don’t know what the most challenging aspect of this English 111 course is. I’ve received A’s on all of my papers. It’s been my most successful class – I want to say in my entire academic career – that I actually put effort to. Since I did put effort into it, I believe that my most challenging aspect of this course was deciding how much of myself I pour into my writing. I’ve always been a very visual person and I tend to write things like I see them play out in my head. I turn an assignment into a play and I write down what I see. I write down my thoughts and feelings when I see myself in the past, thinking about the impact words has had on me. I write down my thoughts and feelings of when I first decided my New Year’s Resolution was going to be an incorporation of words into my daily life. I’ve realized over the years of schooling that I’ve had that writing a screenplay doesn’t make for the best formal reports and that’s why I’ve never liked formal writing.

Due to the fact that I poured a lot of myself into my writing in this class and it’s paid off very nicely, I see that the instances in which I can use my visual skills have to vary. I have to spend a decent chunk of time deciding whether to put my all into an assignment or to let my experiences skim the surface and dig deeper into my subject, all the while restraining my thoughts. I can create a separate document to rant in and put my personal thoughts and opinions in, keeping them out of my paper, but I can’t force my influence into some assignments. I learned that from Inquiry 2. I have another document on my computer with rants and personal beliefs that I’ve had to edit out of a paper to stick to the topic at hand.

List of Terms and Concepts

  1. Rhetoric – Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking or writing. It is being able to use ethos to convince your audience of one opinion of being able to sway them from one viewpoint to another. This can typically be seen in the media whether it’s in the magazines, newspapers, on the radio, or even on television. Consumers or businesses want to persuade you to vote one way or to buy one item over another.

  2. Composition – A composition is a work of art. It can come in the form of writing, music, or an alternate form of visual representation. While they may not have distinct messages to be conveyed, they still have emotions attached.

  3. Writing – Writing can be expressed in various ways. Writing can come across in a poetic form, through song lyrics, in a short story, in a novel, and in so many more ways. Writing is composed when characters are strung together to create words and the words are strung together to form phrases, which can then turn into sentences, paragraphs, pages, books, series, etc. Writing is seen almost everywhere. On billboards, text messages, labels, flyers, even on street signs. Writing can also be very imaginative and the words can be created anywhere: with blades of grass, in the sand, and clouds can even look like letters.

  4. Language – Language is the basis of writing. Language can be spoken, thought, written, drawn, acted out, and read. Language can be thought of as the “tongue” of a country and how they communicate. Since language can be read, it would have to be printed on something visual.

  5. Communication – Communication is a key part of interaction. From one individual to the next, communication is used to express thoughts that may cross your mind. Communication can be verbal, written, or expressive. An example of a visual type of communication, too, is sign language. The use of the hand and facial expressions can demonstrate a visual communication.

  6. Read – Reading goes hand in hand with writing, since most people read writing. Whether someone is reading ink on a page, pixels on a screen, or raised bumps on a smooth surface, their mind is making connections to string together letters to words to phrases to sentences from a visual aid.

  7. Text – Text also goes hand in hand with both reading and writing. Text is language that conveys a message to be interpreted by an audience. It can either be formal or informal, depending on the choice of the author, however, it will always be written on some sort of surface, making a visual connection to it.

  8. Edit – To edit a work is to find small, grammatical errors in a piece and to make small changes to correct them. Editing does not occur on a large scale. Even when editing a piece of art, you are changing small bits of the piece rather than altering the identity of the piece itself.

  9. Revise – To revise a work is to find large, stylistic errors in a piece and to rethink and change them. These fixes have potential to change a large part of the work. Two examples are changing the thesis of a paper or changing the flow of the piece for stronger clarity. Like editing, even when revising a work of art, it would change what the piece means as a whole.

  10. Audience – The audience is the person or group for whom the work is written. The author can choose their ideal audience, however, the work may reach beyond the intended audience. The audience is receiving the work through visual cues whether the piece is a written work or a visual representation of a work.

  11. Persuade – To persuade an audience is to convince them of a particular viewpoint or to introduce an idea and to try to gain followers. Persuasion can come with both good and bad intentions, however it is inevitably up to the audience to decide to agree or not. Persuasion can even come in several forms. Some can be written on paper, and some can be through visual aids, as well.

  12. Remediation – Remediation is the act of correcting a fault. Along the lines of editing and revision, remediation is to correct something, however, it is on a slightly different scale. While editing and revisions are correcting wrongs to make the paper flow better, remediation is correcting facts that are incorrect or processes which cause more harm than good. Remediation is stopping and correcting damage that can be detrimental.

  13. Remix – In musical terms, a remix is a different version of a musical recording. With any composition, if you have a new version of a product that is different from the original, it is a remixed item. It has been changed. This fits in with remediation, editing, and revision, because they all change the original version.

  14. Medium/Media – A particular medium is the physical way that things are shared and connected. In other words, we get impressions through our senses, but we might connect a particular person to a particular smell through the food they cook, in which case, the food would the medium.

  15. Mode – The mode is the way to operate or use a system. In other words, the medium is the intermediate way things are connected, but the mode is the technical aspect of how the connection occurs.