Untitled Reflection, Michael Steinmetz (2012) — Inquiry 5

Saints Peter and Paul grade school is where my incredibly poor foundation of writing was bestowed upon me. Luckily I moved on to Benet Academy, locally known as The Academy, where the administration never let a soul forget that the average ACT score at The Academy is a 28.4. In these learned halls I was taught a life skill that was worth the hefty tuition in itself. The art of writing at Benet started in Basic English one’s freshman year. The strict instructors forced all the students to diagram, write, and read until the student was able to diagram the Constitution (no joke). Each year this process continued, just becoming more complex and tedious until a twist was added senior year. As a senior one can elect to take composition class, where a paper is due at the end of every week. I dreaded writing papers and thought this class would be the end of me and my English career. The gifted teacher of this course gave me a whole other reason to crave Fridays, and that was to hand in my newest masterpiece. He taught me how to brainstorm, organize, and revise. He also showed me that writing is not always a chore. He gave me a skill that I will build upon and use every day for the entirety of my life.

I have always enjoyed and thrived with introductory paragraphs, for they require the most creativity and thought. It is the job of the lone introduction to grab the attention of the reader and make him or her hungry for more. I also realize the first paragraph sets the state of mind for the rest of the paper, and it is beneficial to mold the reader’s mind frame to look positively upon the paper. My favorite way to do this is making the reader connect with the paper through intense and vivid description. The more one can visualize the story and argument, the greater the likelihood that they will enjoy the story, which is a plus when the reader is also the teacher. Long descriptions and good word choice have also been a strong suit in my writing. An example of my use of description in the introduction comes from the opening two lines in my first paper: “I could feel each beat of my heart deep within my throat. A bead of sweat slowly trickled down my beet-red face. With each step my confidence shrank and nerves grew. The floorboard underneath my soft step let out a long moan, forcing my stepfather to look up.”

The points I need to always keep in mind while writing are: organization, transition, citation and conclusions. I am never satisfied with my transitions’ performance. My organization takes a lot of time and thought but usually comes out to be decent—but no reason to be proud. Citations and conclusions have always been the bane of my existence. I always manage to forget some tiny rule with my citations, costing me valuable points. They have always been far too complex for me with all the different style and tools used. Conclusions are my biggest weak point. The reason behind this is my inability to make the powerful and lasting final paragraph that separates the “A” papers from the “B” papers. I have usually exhausted my ideas and enthusiasm by the final paragraph, resulting in a mediocre conclusion.

Tailoring a paper to a specific audience is a tough thing to do in school when you know the only audience that matters is the grader. Despite this fact I have always tried to remain true to my viewpoints and paper by being honest and straightforward even if it may result in a lower grade. That is the thing I love about all my papers is that they all show a different and unique piece of what makes me who I am today. I am happy to say there is not one paper that I do not take pride in. I am proud to put my name on all of my papers because I know they reflect me honestly.

One of my favorite writing experiences occurred last year when I was given the broad topic of Family. In my family we are diehard Chicago Bears, Monsters of the Midway, fans. It is huge part of our bonding and involves many traditions. I wanted to explain to others how what can be just a game to others has become such a powerful bonding experience to my family. I spoke about how my Bears family attends every home game, ticket or not, and tailgate in the ultimate Bears Mobile.  Besides rolling up in this steel behemoth, we also distinguish ourselves from the other “fans” with matching snowmobile suits with retired Bear’s numbers and patches. We are lucky enough to have our good friend and Chef, Cougar, grill us up some delectable tailgate specials such as: the bacon explosion, African lion meat (when playing the detroit lions of course), and the packer smacker patty.

A paragraph from my senior paper paints the scene perfectly. “The sweet scent of bacon being grilled by the pound dances in the air. A steaming bowl of Uncle Steve’s famous chili is thrust before my eyes. I mosey over to the mac and cheese to make some delicious chilimac. The cheese takes the bite out of the spicy chili just enough to make it near perfect. Once I finish the delish chilimac I move on to a hefty meatball sandwich with a dessert of bacon sprinkled cookies. At the center of all the madness is a 1966 Cadillac hearse devoted to the bears. This magnificent machine is communally owned by the family and is the pride and joy of the Steinmetz Family. She brings us all together every home game. This 44 year old steel behemoth has brought the family much closer, forcing us all to get together twice a month. The Bear’s mobile is not the force behind our pilgrimage to Soldier Field, instead our love and passion for the Chicago Bears beckons us towards the hallowed grounds. The Bears bring the core family together along with a variety of great food and I thank the franchise for the memories and bonds it has created.”

The past two years have transformed my writing more than words can describe. They have also changed my view of all the writing I now read. Entering this class, when my teacher would say “rhetoric” I thought she was speaking about rhetorical questions. Now I realize how often rhetoric is used in all professions and why it is so important to have it as a tool. This class has taught me how to tailor my papers to a specific audience, use rhetoric to attempt to persuade them to my side of the argument, to reach people through different media other than text, and most of all, to take chances in writing.