Fall 2013 Prof. Jessica Frogley
This semester in my English 2010 class, we had the opportunity to thoroughly reflect after each paper we completed and turned in. I noticed a few patterns in answering the questions we were asked to reflect on. For the most part, my writing habits haven’t changed much. I’ve been writing frequently all my life and developed certain habits to help me focus and write constructively with little distraction. This is usually accomplished by writing late at night or very early in the morning; my kids are asleep then, and it’s prime writing time. I normally write from an easy chair or sofa in the living room for stretches of two to three hours taking longer breaks as I go about my activities of daily living.
That’s not to say everything remained the same. As the semester went on, I noticed a trend to finishing my papers days in advance. Previously, I would start working on a piece and leave it until a near deadline and finish the bulk of it after mulling over the subject for a few weeks. I believe this changed as I began taking advantage of the SLCC Student Writing Center. Now I complete the majority of the piece in advance of the deadline so I can have it proofread and use the time left to revise and polish a final draft.
I’d like to think I did well in class this semester, so these habits are ones I’m working on solidifying for future writing projects and submissions. I’ve set aside more time in the day when I’m working on a paper to both research and write. This leaves little anxiety about deadlines, as more time dedicated seems to alleviate any sort of time constraint, perceived or real.
This class was a real shot in the arm when it came to writing, especially since this is my first semester back in school after ten years. It took little class time to introduce me to the school’s online library and how to access academic databases such as EBSCOHost and JSTOR. I remember the day we covered that in class, and the excitement as I explored the tools more thoroughly at home that evening in researching for the first major writing assignment.
MLA format was also new to me this semester. Writing in MLA format had a very steep adoption slope that challenged me in the beginning because of sheer number of guidelines in the style. I took up the challenge and found it useful as well as practical for both writing and understanding academic papers. We didn’t spend a lot of time covering MLA format in class, but I believe that’s covered more in more introductory classes. Nevertheless, I did my own research and found the Purdue Online Writing Lab, which helped me figure it out.
There was a wealth of knowledge I took away from this class and will put into action in my life. As an English major, this will possibly be the foundation for the rest of my studies and in my future career as a writer, what I learned in this class will be vital. It was immensely helpful to learn how to write in different genres and to then put into practice what had been learned by actually writing using the new techniques.
In reflecting on our very last assignment, the rewriting of three other papers we had written this semester, I was able to revise them post-submission adapting the new techniques I learned. One of the biggest things I took away from this class is the importance of revision and reflection. If I hadn’t taken the time to reflect on my writing process and habits before revising, I would have been in the same mindset I was when I initially wrote the piece.
I chose to rewrite the pieces I did, honestly, because they were already further along, easier to change, and already high quality writing. They’re what I chose as representative of my best work this semester. The strongest aspect of my portfolio would be my position paper, Mexico at a Crossroads. By and large, I spent the most time on this paper, most of it deep in research. It was also a great chance to write in a genre I really hadn’t put much thought or effort into before. This led me to go all-out to create an exceptional paper just to see what my best efforts could produce.
When I first signed up for this class, I worried it would be too advanced for someone just coming back to school after a ten year hiatus, but in hindsight, I couldn’t have made a better decision enrolling, and Prof. Frogley’s insightful and stimulating way of teaching the curriculum was a pleasant serendipity for someone signing up at the tail end of waiting lists three weeks before the semester began.