Dear Professor Temple and Kath,
Over the course of the semester I feel as if I have had the opportunity to grow substantially as a as a writer. In particular, I noticed that as the semester progressed I felt more and more comfortable with the process of formulating a thesis and revising my work. I’ve also become more open (albeit still not entirely) to removing some ideas that are interesting but less relative to my particular thesis. With regard to revision, I’d say the strategies that have been most useful are reading my work aloud, reverse outlining, and research. Particularly, reading my essays to friends helps me catch the errors that I tend to gloss over when I’m reading to myself. I also find the research factor has been an interesting way of seeing how rooted my argument is in reality, or if I’m just “barking up the wrong tree,” so to speak. For this reason, other than the books themselves, the Internet has been one of my biggest resources. It’s amazing what real-world and biographical evidence exists that can be used to tie a thesis together. Other resources I have used over the semester include the Style book, Graff’s They Say, I Say, and, office meetings, which have all given me new perspectives on how to make the most of my writing.
In terms of this portfolio assignment, I started by (searching for) and rereading all of my previous drafts and revisions, with particular concern to the comments made along the way. I wanted to make sure that each of the questions or concerns raised throughout the semester would be addressed to the best of my abilities in the final revisions. I then made a list of the things I wanted to revise in each paper, and got to work. I was looking to improve my grammar, clarify anything that seemed unclear, and, just maybe, “kill a few babies.” When I was done, I forced my roommate to sit through hearing each of the final products to catch any lingering flaws.
When comparing the first drafts of each of my papers with the final products, I definitely see improvement. I particularly noticed that instead of trying to shrink what I was trying to say using tight-knit (and often unclear) phrases, I took the liberty of unpacking my thoughts. The problem with this is that I often sacrificed concision for clarity, and this is something I will need to address in my future writing. I also think that my style has become much more sophisticated, especially with regard to weaving in quotations as evidence to my analysis, and integrating the facts that I’ve researched. Additionally, I have realized the potential that a catchy introduction has for captivating the reader, no doubt a technique that I will continue to implement in my future work. I’m still a little shaky with the semicolon, but I really do feel that my writing has improved, and I appreciate the advice that was given to me along the way. Thanks for a good semester!