Final Reflections

I have learned a lot from the writing portfolio and have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of writing pieces. My favorite piece of writing throughout the course was my response to “A Simple Request From a Concerned President”. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to respond to something more profane and less formal than your typical piece of writing. Responding to this deranged sorority letter allowed me to write creatively in a way that I hadn’t before. In this response I was also able to use several links to further my argument, which was something I had not done anywhere else on my blog.  

The most difficult writing task for me this semester was my research paper. It was difficult for me to find research on my particular topic and the format was something new for me. However I eventually found alternate forms of research and learned more efficient ways to research for coming projects. Despite being frustrating at times, completing my research paper was rewarding and made me feel very accomplished.

Other than writing assignments, I found formatting the actual blog to be difficult. I had never made a blog let alone written a blog post before, so I encountered several difficulties. I immediately noticed that I could not indent! (Or if I could, I did not figure out how to do so.) So I had to adjust to different formatting then to what I am used to. I also encountered problems with creating separate pages to make my blog more organized and easier to sift through for my readers. I had to re-learn how to format my blog multiple times as I continuously forgot seemingly simple things. However, I can now say with somewhat confidence that I can produce a fairly organized blog.

A great benefit of the course and writing portfolio specifically is that it introduced me to the writing and research resources available to me in the university.  Specifically on my research paper “The Pursuit of Religion in College” I was challenged to find different research through the online databases such as Mirlyn and ProQuest. I also explored other resources such as the Sweetland Center for Writing and the ATLA database specifically for religion.

Although I have made improvements in these areas, organization and tone are still areas of frustration for me. In my writing assignments, I had trouble setting the right tone for my intended purpose. However, I have become more aware of the problem and now consider my tone more carefully in revising my work. Multiple revisions also have allowed me to work on my organization to make my work more readable for my audience.

This class has provided me with necessary skills for not only my future writing classes, but all of my future classes and any writing pieces I may have to do in the future. Even throughout the semester I found my writing in other classes such as Religion and Political Science had improved. I am happy about the work I have done this semester and believe is shows an improvement of my work over time. Although originally uncertain about the Writing 100 class, I now feel more confident in my writing. 

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Response to “Why We Crave Horror Movies” by Stephen King

“Why We Crave Horror Movies” By Stephen King gives an eye-opening and almost frightening perspective on the human subconscious. He uses the human desire to watch blood and gore as an example of our insanity. His tone is ironically lighthearted and his writing allows the audience to question their sanity. If most of us are insane, does that mean we’re normal? The article made me grimace (for example, with a dead baby joke) as well as laugh throughout the writing. His humor keeps the audience engaged and actively listening. My personal favorite moment was “Such coveted treats as chocolate-covered graham crackers often follow”.  Personally, I relate to a specific instance like that, which gives more weight to the rest of his argument. Finally, he ends the article very strongly with a completely separated sentence “As long as you keep the gators fed.” Separating this line emphasizes it’s importance to the reader and allows us to understand even though we are insane, horror movies help us keep the crazy in. 

Response to McCullough’s “You are not special” Commencement Speech

McCullough’s “You are not special” speech provides a refreshing and eye-opening argument that inspires his audience and shocks many. In his speech, McCullough spares his audience of being polite to reveal the (sometimes difficult) truth. His audience is a group of students who have yet to venture off into the world on their own. His audience has been pampered and praised so to prepare the students to be on their own, his speech does just the opposite of that. His tone is often humorous, “Despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur… You are nothing special”. This not only entertains but also keeps the attention of his audience to ensure his message is effective. The phrase “You are not special” seems discouraging, harsh or even simply mean. But it is his underlying message that is truly inspiring. Younger generations are more and more self-involved, with a sense of entitlement. McCullough’s speech allows his audience to realize that there are things beyond themselves, and that they are “not special because everyone is special”.  A moment of the speech that resonated with me was when McCullough said “Climb the mountain so you can see the world – not so the world can see you.” His argument is that you will miss out on so much if you are only ever looking at yourself. McCullough uses this and many other analogies to effectively deliver his speech. Even I, someone not a part of his immediate audience, connected with that speech. 

Response to “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros

“Only Daughter” inspiring essay that peers into the life of the author, Sandra Cisneros. The essay is centered on the fact that being an only daughter of seven children “explains everything” of Cisneros’ life.  By that, I believe she is referring to the implied expectations of a female in a predominately male household, especially in a conservative Mexican family in which tradition is valued. Some of these expectations include marrying a good husband and the fact she is “only a daughter”, opposed to also a wife, emphasizes the disappointment that she has not done so. Cisneros structures her essay to emphasize the emotional impact of overcoming her gender barriers. Particularly, she uses short sentences to underline instances in her life that have had a large emotional impact, such as “Not even profesora” and “Not seven sons”.  Furthermore, for the most significant emotional moment of the essay, she separates the sentence from any other paragraph, “… that was the most wonderful”.  Allowing the sentence to be separate emphasizes its importance and leaves a larger impact on the reader.  The heartwarming tone of the last line leaves the reader hopeful and positive. 

Response to “Listen and Learn” by Nathan Heller

The article “Listen and Learn” by Nathan Heller discusses the phenomena of Ted Talks and uncovers various reasons why they have become so famous.  In doing so, Heller actually creates his article similar to a Ted Talk. He uses the story of Zoref, among others, to teach the audience about Ted Talks in an engaging way. Similarly, Heller talks about how Susan Cain had to replace her “statistics and case-making data” with stories.  Also, how 2012’s “Ted moment” came from Bryan Stevenson, who opened with a story “about the sense of personal identity his grandmother instilled in him”. Keeping an audience interested has been the key factor to Ted Talk’s success as well as Heller’s article.

He also uses humor to entertain the audience, just as it would be used in a Ted Talk. For example, he uses the Californian stereotype to poke fun at the “spiritually centered” employees who “wear Converse to work” and “rock-climb in the Pinnacles on Sundays”.  My personal favorite moment was when Heller is describing Chris Anderson, he concludes with “He wears a lot of vests.” The dry humor engages the audience and allows them to focus on Heller’s underlying argument about Ted Talks.

Furthermore, the structure of this article mirrors that of a Ted Talk.  A typical Ted Talk will pull from many sources and switch thinking patterns to keep the audience on their toes. In Heller’s article, he jumps between several different examples to support his argument and keep the audience’s interest. 

Response to “A Simple Request From A Concerned President”

Dearest Sister Julia,

I sympathize that you don’t have the mental capacity to express yourself intelligently or without the use of profanity and the wonders of caps lock. I understand that your argument and overall speech in general is not sophisticated enough to have merit on its own, but using all capital letters does not make you look bigger, it just makes you look stupid – some sisterly advice. I do, however, commend you on some of your more impressive writing skills. One of my personal favorites was the internal rhyme of “cunt punt” – imaginative. Although ultimately something my 13-year-old brother could have come up with. 

 As for me being “fucking AWKWARD”, I sincerely apologize. It takes a certain kind of class to sleep with the entire Sigma Nu chapter; a kind of class I fortunately just do not have.  That brings me to my biggest concern. STDs are real. And although many sisters would love to see you hospitalized with a terminal illness, you should go get yourself checked. Below is a list of links I hope you will find useful. Go educate yourself.

 Sisters forever,

~ Whiny Little Bitch

Where I’m From

I am from thread,

from Singer and Brother.

I am from the food sizzling on the stovetop.

(Oil spurting as the pan heats.)

I am from the deer in the backyard

galloping through the trees,

wild and free.

 

I’m from the dolma and debkeh,

from Yvette and Emanuel.

I’m from the religious

and the conservative

from Don’t do that! and Don’t say that!

I’m from the Lamb of God

Who takes away the sins of the world

According to John.

 

I’m from Yacu and Mikho,

rice and meat.

From my grandfather’s assassination,

and my father’s life thereafter.

 

As I ponder the lives before mine, I am

thankful for where I’m from

And what I have.

For I am not from where one walks freely

And sleeps safely.