“Was Homer a Rapper?,” Paul Wilson (2014) — Inquiry 1

Writer’s Reflection

I looked at this paper as an opportunity to show my teacher who she was teaching, and more importantly whose essays she was reading. Writing is an expression of self and because of this, it’s nearly impossible (especially when it’s the first paper of the semester) to give an accurate depiction with just one story. Now maybe if you have a defining moment that really outlines you as a person, then I guess that works. But I didn’t have anything like that. I’ve always been changing and growing; but it has been gradual, so my entire life of experiences is important. Because of this, I chose to skirt the borders of the prompt and try something new. I began to think back on my life (reflecting, initially) and pull out the things the meant the most to me, but with a specific focus towards writing. While I was doing this, I tried to throw in the coolest things I’ve experienced and try to get my reader hooked. By shocking and impressing (hopefully) the reader, either by using crazy connections or giving intelligent perspective, I figured I could keep my audience entertained the whole way through the paper. But that meant nothing if my audience wasn’t buying into what I was saying. So as I presented thoughts about writing, I tried to write in those same styles to more strongly influence my reader. For example; I used a Dune reference of how the author used a timeline to demonstrate larger effects of actions, so I used my entire life timeline to show how I arrived at my present writing style. And this “making a point while proving a point” strategy is prevalent throughout the paper if you look closely. Through all these things, I figured that just through this paper I could show how writing can be looked at to shed light on a person’s personality. This makes sense, since writing is a language, and language is how we as a race communicate our thoughts and emotions (which are what make up our personalities). So I focused on creating my inner voice. It’s hard to not write fancy words and clutter up an essay with long adjectives and nouns; but it is essential. My main focus on this paper was to destroy anything unnecessary (we

had been studying Zinsser in class, a writer who speaks out against clutter in writing). But I didn’t do this only for the purpose of making it a speedier read; I figured that if I could add bits of personality, then give my reader a sampling of some of my life experiences, and finally cut EVERYTHING else out; then all that would be left would be Paul Wilson. And that’s all I wanted to show, Paul Wilson as he was when he started writing for his first semester of freshman year. That’s an initial reflection, right?


Writing is something that comes naturally. Obviously this isn’t true. Some kids might float through low-level English classes by barely skimming the surface, while producing papers mimicking the formulas that their teachers create for them; but real writing takes work. For this reason, I always thought strict rubrics were like cheats. The most exciting part of writing for me is taking a rubric and bending it as far as I can in a creative way. It really isn’t the bending that’s important, but the interesting things I can write about when I connect my interests to my work. Unfortunately, there’s never been one specific instance that has changed the way I write. Having specific events would make this paper a lot easier, but no one event really stands out. I won a couple of contests for things, but explaining how I won my 6th grade D.A.R.E. writing contest (Where I’m pretty sure I just repeated “Drugs are bad”) wouldn’t really help you understand my writing as it is now. Humans are built up through their experiences and the way that those experiences affect them due to their personalities. So as with anything, my writing has developed over the years because of all the things that have happened to me. Even so, I always have been a fairly good writer; I say fairly because everyone makes mistakes and because I’d like not to sound too full of myself. Also, anyone reading this paper could completely hate me by now, and I’d like to avoid supplying irony on myself in this situation; so I’ll be blunt. I have good ideas, I know what people want to hear, and I know how they want to hear it. Pair that with a solid understanding of sentence structure, spelling, and grammar; and I’d say I come in at above average. However, this alone does not make an interesting paper. What makes my specific view on writing different is my personal spin on it, which I’d like to think is nothing short of fantastic.

Paul Wilson is outgoing, intelligent, witty, funny, strong, and caring. I texted my closest friends and this is what the majority of them said when asked, “What are the five adjectives you would use to describe me?” Now keep in mind that they weren’t going to straight up text me insults on my character, and also keep in mind that Paul Wilson isn’t a peach every day of his life, but it’s important to have a sense of who you’re dealing with when reading someone’s work. The things that I like also directly correlate to how I create ideas on paper. This is shown in that I appreciate clever plot twists or witty puns. I also value relationships and loyalty; drama is one of my favorite pastimes because I like studying human reactions to things. Action is my favorite way to convey emotion and give strong imagery to a particular passage, while also keeping the story flowing. Action is important because it speeds the story along. There are other ways to speed as well though, and I think it’s insanely cool when an author can use something like intelligent dialogue or an elaborate, convincing theory that they’ve come across (on science, humanity, math, food preferences, whatever) to add a little bit of interest here and there. Science has always been something that captures my imagination and it’s for this reason that I tend to gravitate (serious pun intended) towards science fiction novels. It’s really just a ton of fun. There is nothing better than learning about a whole new universe with multiple races of aliens, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Their everyday interactions and conflicts can be a better source of drama than even the best soap operas. And on the next page, the characters are fighting with laser weapons and doing things almost magical with items that seem almost practical. It’s exciting and perplexing and thought-provoking; but it also has just enough explanation that it seems scientific.

My favorite genre is only important as it shows how much I love to read and, in turn, write. From an early age, I always loved expressing my opinions and debating with others about theirs. This love was strengthened by my English classes, because it always seemed like the class where the teachers would be excited to share ideas. Every day they would find something awesome, some little connection hidden underneath the words, and we would have a crazy discussion about it. This goes for most of my subjects, not just English, and I guess that’s a credit to my high school; but this really struck me because I wondered how someone can be so interested in such a wide range of things and be that excited EVERY time. Well one day I figured it out and here it is: People who are excited all of the time find the best things in the worst of things and exploit them. They make it so that everything actually IS exciting to them. Everyone has heard the expression, “Life is what you make it” (Hannah Montana sings a great song about this), and it’s really great advice. Well, this idea also applies to writing. A good writer can always find something they think is interesting to connect to the prompt that they’re supposed to write about; and, in doing this, they add flavor that wouldn’t have been added without their extra effort. And honestly it doesn’t feel like extra effort, it’s fun and it’s amazing to see the final product that YOU just created.

My favorite thing to look at while reading something is seeing how authors create and put together their ideas. I find it most interesting when I can see an author’s thought process laid out right in front of me, clear and concise. Then I am able to fully grasp the emotions and ideas that went into making the piece that I’m reading. Once a reader can get a feel for the author, the rest of the work solidifies and becomes real to them. After this happens, it is the reader’s prerogative to choose whether he/she agrees with the author’s opinion and discard/adopt the philosophies to their own life. Now that’s pretty fancy language, but everyone does it. It’s a natural tendency for people to add things they like to their own selves, because why not be like the person you really like? Why not feel the same way about something as a person whose opinion you respect? This is apparent in today’s world mainly in the way we interact with people we are around a lot. We can see that we tend to pick up mannerisms and sayings from our close friends, and that we tend to have similar beliefs as our parents. And this is the main reason I love to write. A bond can be grown from the “journey” that both author and reader undertake while a reader travels through a work of literature. Something as simple as a story (probably not as simple as it seems) can change a person’s entire outlook on life. One author has the potential to change or inspire the next great leader, the next great scientist, or the next world-changer. The optimistic part of me loves this, and that’s why I love writing.

The most important influence on my own writing is the Dune Series by Frank Herbert. Herbert created an entire universe of groups with different beliefs. Throughout the series, he constantly makes radical events take place and then propels the story far into the future (sometimes tens or even thousands of years) to show how specific events can cause extreme consequences. Here is an excerpt from one of the series’ later books:

I remember friends from wars all but we forgot.
All of them distilled into each wound we caught.
Those wounds are all the painful places where we fought. Battles better left behind, ones we never sought.
What is it we spent and what was it we bought?

This is amazing because by traveling through time, we were at these battles. We witnessed these wounds. We spent it and now we are ready to see what we bought. By taking us along on this universe’s journey through a timeline of thousands of years, the reader actually experiences a feeling of nostalgia while reading this. And on top of that, it’s a pretty good poem in its own right. But what makes it special is how it wraps up the entire series in just five lines. Herbert’s common theme is examining humanity in its most extraordinary forms while it’s being challenged by unimaginable obstacles. I think he does an amazing job of this because he keeps the universe realistic, which shows that he kept the essence of humanity in the story while stretching it to such awesome extremes. Along with this he has incredible dialogue (brimming with subtext and sarcasm) and, since it is science fiction, riveting action scenes and new devices/terminology. Seeing what humanity is doing, how they’re doing it, what they get out of it, and all the while being entertained is what makes this book so fantastic; and in that same way it makes Herbert’s effort so amazing. I would love to write a book like this one day, and that’s a lot of motivation for me when I write.

As shown by the length of this paper, my reasons for loving writing are many and complicated. Rap music is a large part of my life and that’s because honestly it IS oral poetry. Now I’ll admit that you definitely have to search to find good examples, but I have over seven hundred songs on my iPod so it’s not impossible. The talent is out there and some of the skill is out of this world. There are rappers that can freestyle (Rapping without written words, making it up on the spot, usually with a relatively quick tempo) for tens of minutes without stopping, and all the while creating intricate rhymes and clever puns with their lyrics. Just think about it, what if someone like Eminem recorded a 16,000 line rap song? Would people three thousand years into the future think he was comparable (or possibly even superior) to Homer? Now rap might not be your genre, but it’s definitely something to think about (although some Greek scholars would say I’ve crossed a line). I think what tells the most about me, that I like to see in writing, is when authors do cross the line and change “normal” thinking patterns as a result. It is bold and shocking, sometimes to the point where I can feel my blood pumping. This is so important in my everyday life; it’s how my humor takes shape. I like witnessing people in unexpected situations and how they respond. This surprise is what drives a main theme in Dune. Humans have developed prescience, the ability to see into the future, which takes away all surprise and excitement because they know what is going to happen and how to avoid it. The universe is completely under their control, instead of out of their control where they would be forced to adapt and survive. This causes characters to completely shut down because there’s no reason to live. We aren’t like machines; humans need change in their lives, we need something to overcome. We get bored and frustrated when in stalemate. And this is where Zinsser comes into the picture, because we can’t even sit through a boring paper for too long before we shut down (either our computers, or our brains and fall asleep). I honestly think that Zinsser would love the rap genre because it’s a relatable way of communicating thoughts that doesn’t bore you and also communicates those thoughts in a relatively simple way.

Now you may be thinking “Where is he going with this?” I just thought that last paragraph was a pretty cool string of connections, and that’s probably the easiest way to sum up my writing. I make logical connections to different things I find interesting. The ways that they connect can be super cool, for instance I just connected Rap music to Zinsser through different books I have read and Homer from ancient Greece (Rap→Eminem→Homer→Crossing Lines→ My Humor→Dune→Humans→Zinsser). Pretty awesome, right?

The goal here was to help you understand me and, through that, understand my writing. While I was reading the prompt I had problems figuring out what to write. I thought, “What does she want?” “Where does she want me to take her?” These few experiences just weren’t enough; I couldn’t take someone to one part of my life and ask them to understand me. That’s like looking at the Earth and only examining Antarctica, then concluding that the entire planet is covered in ice (and filled with penguins). No, who I am is who I am as a writer, and it’s all important. By reading this paper, the reader knows me, and pretty intimately I might add. You have traveled back through my high school and grade school days, into my most personal likes/dislikes, into my friend’s opinions of me, and into my own insights on life. Now you have a very good idea of who I am, an outline you could say, and you can judge from that; but this paper was me and was for me. I learned so much about myself with just seven pages, and that’s the true power behind writing. It’s a window into the soul and a mirror to the world.