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UW Reflection

Dear class and professor,

I chose to take this class because it was one of the two UW’s that had to do with science. The other was on the brain, but didn’t fit in my schedule; therefore my choice of UW became easy. I came into the class thinking that we would examine either how particular scientific events were portrayed by the media and the affect culture had on their portrayal or skills and techniques for writing about scientific topics. Since I was interested in and decided to study Biomedical Engineering, either of these would have been beneficial for me and sufficiently interesting. This was not the case. Instead I found we took just a normal writing approach to the course and we were made to write with science as a unifying theme.

Long after this unexpected start came an unexpected change: during this course I’ve experienced my confidence in myself as a writer increase. Unfortunately, I can’t really place why I have this newfound confidence. The blog held no empowering essence for me and I have not been a heavy user, and what I did write received few or no comments. I did not fall asleep on a Webster’s Dictionary and absorb a colorful vocabulary, I did not gain a following of peers, who were adorating my every composition, and I most definitely did not stop procrastinating. No, I’m pretty sure I have not become a better writer. In fact, barring the ability to rewrite for this course, my initial writing appears much the same. So I still wonder: why the confidence boost?

Only two possibilities come to mind as for why I feel more confident about my writing. First of all, I may have just matured a bit and am no longer quite the self-conscious, lack-of-self-confidence wreck of a high school boy that I once was. Although likely, I believe it is more of a partial explanation if at all. The other possibility has to do with the positive feedback I received from Professor Myers on my writing pieces. Her comments made me feel as though my work, though imperfect, incomplete and often bad, was salvageable and had strong possibilities. She was able to sort through the garbage of my work and find the recyclable can that I had been hesitantly kicking around. It was reassuring to know that my basic instincts were solid, but I still need refining on how I go about proving and describing my points. Sure, the grades weren’t initially high, and I did wonder whether the positive feedback was just a ploy to keep me writing, but I did keep writing, and I felt better about what I was producing.

My writing goals at the beginning of the semester were to start earlier and edit more before turn-in. Well, I got one out of the two. Since I am able to put more time into rewriting, I spend much longer writing my first drafts than I did in high school. Sure, I could just turn in a dirty draft and get Professor Myers’ feedback, but that may or may not have been helpful depending on my own input. Instead I decided to avoid the hectic rush of deadlines that traditionally cut down my editing process to spell check and maybe one or two read-throughs. I now feel that I can give a better paper and receive better feedback after waiting for myself to finish writing a paper before I turn it in.

As I already alluded to; before this course I had doubts on my writing ability. In general I still do, but I’m more realistic about it now. I know I’m not the best, not even within the class. I’ve heard pieces written after five minute free writes at 8 in the groggy morning that awed me into a jealous despair. But I know for certain I’m not the worst. I don’t mean within the class of course, I mean much more broadly. A requirement of this class was to read other blogs. In addition to the articles, I was usually interested on how other people responded in the comments section. Often I saw writing that was just dumbfounding. I couldn’t understand what or how it happened, and sometimes not what was even written. Was spell check broken? Were they visually impaired? Did they use Google translate? Mind you, these were not examples of online slang. I found that I valued these comments much less than those that were well written, or at least had the fundamental properties of grammar backing them.

It seemed to me that using grammar became a powerful choice a writer should make. Not too long ago when AIM and MySpace were all the rage, grammar meant little to me – why try and right pretentiously if all my friends write like this? Allegedly pretentious, did I even know and use the word pretentious in eighth grade? No, that itself would have been pretentious. But as my peers and I have grown, I changed my mind on the subject. I realized just how much more valuable a piece of writing is to an argument whether on Facebook or on a blog, that is well written. Grammar may not earn the respect of your peers, but a lack of it will likely lose what respect you had.

So do I feel like a good writer? Eh. Have I found the pleasure in writing that will inspire me to start the tardy spin-off, The Joy of Writing? No, not really. But do I feel like I could get my point across using what I do know about writing in either a blog or essay form? Yes, and for that new found confidence in my ability I am grateful.

All the best,

Richard Smith

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