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18 year old student makes powerful statement about what works best in the writing classroom

December 29, 2013

Alicia Weaver was my student in freshman writing Fall of 2013. With her permission, I’d like to share her end-of-semester reflection. I’m proud to say that Alicia ignored my writing prompts for this essay and instead crafted a powerful statement on the power of writing essays filled with personal meaning compared to writing expository essays meant to demonstrate proficiency. Enjoy!

My Journey in Writing

by Alicia Weaver

     When I came to college I knew I would change; I knew I would learn more about myself. However, I never imagined that writing would be a part of it. Growing up, writing was never an outlet, only a tool. Writing was for demonstrating that you understood the subject. Writing was for passing AP tests and the ACT. Writing was what you did when you finished learning about something. Writing was a regurgitation of absorbed information and proof of proficiency and progress. I don’t know when writing became this bland definition. In my childhood, I wrote almost every day.  I kept a daily journal, detailing all of the events of my life. I described my emotions at the time and thought about the future, and I remember feeling better afterward. I remember the relief of letting out pent up frustration in hurried, messy handwriting. For some reason though, I never thought of it as writing. Writing was for school papers or famous authors or poets. I also never thought of writing as an outlet. Music could be an outlet, or sports, but not writing. My journal wasn’t significant; to me, it was simply a matter of habit.

     Coming to college, I imagined having to repeat the same regurgitated essays in my classes, or listening to boring lectures.  The idea of my first personal narrative even freaked me out a little. My essay couldn’t be boring! It was a reflection of me. The idea of writing from my own perspective was terrifying. It seemed to be a little too, well, personal. I had several ideas to write about but none of them were good enough to commit to. When I was finally struck with the idea of my paper, I sat down at my computer and tried simply giving a synopsis of that time in my life, but it wasn’t all I had. I finally had to reach down deep and bring out the true emotions. What had seemed so scary was so relieving. I sat and typed most of it in one setting. It was like venting to a journal as a kid, only better. I wanted my reader to understand where I was and how it had changed me. When I was finished, I straightened up in my chair and was excited (and still a little nervous) for someone to read it. To my surprise, those who did read it enjoyed it. As someone who takes pride in their work, the praise of others only made the experience better.

I never imagined having a class that encouraged enjoying writing. I had forgotten I could even write that way. Though I know that personal essays are not the only sort of writing I will do, it is good to remember that writing is not black and white. Writing is an art with many colors. Writing is a journey.

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