I can remember all the way back to my first day of school when I walked into class. I was unsure of was to expect because I heard a lot but now I know that it was only the beginning of the largest transformation for my writing since learning the ABC’s. I started off with the wrong foot and slowly I strived to redeem myself from the embarrassment from the first major paper. In the middle of the year I shown some progress and Snapgrades became my new best friend. Near in the end of the third quarter, my writing made it to the point where I felt comfortable and now I am able to convey my thoughts and my vocabulary is stronger and my sentences flow. Writing and understanding literature has made things and reasoning in life is easier. The improvement is unavoidable and I am not only shocked but also proud of the strides that I have taken in a tough course.
Back in September, we had received our first major paper assignment for the course. It was the explication of the year and I was actually unsure of what an explication was. I read the hand out but was still uncertain as to what the task at hand was. “Find the deeper meaning,” and I tried to look at the poem over and over again only to realize that the poem was still a big blog of mystery to me. I ended up writing about this in my explication and received an F. I was a little upset because there were hours put into the essay and I felt as though I did the best that I could. But I was wrong.
Looking back and re-reading my essay, I see the all the faults and wonder what I was thinking. I still did not fully understand the task of explicating a piece of literature. It was not until we began having class discussions about pieces of literature that I began to realize what explication was. Listening to the other students and Mr. Gallagher speak gave me clues as to what to focus on and strategies that would help make the explication process easier. I took the ideas back home and began to apply the strategies to my writing and then I began to pump out respectable papers. But, I am never happy with respectable papers because I remember I would always click on my Snapgrades link and end up being disappointed with the grade.
The disappointment only helped me to become a better writer in the end. I continued to observe and continued to improve. The blog on the Brueghel painting of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus was the next major paper that highlighted the next step that I had taken in my writing. Regarding myself as a visual learner, I was excited to find that the task involved explicating an actual painting instead of a piece of writing. I had fun breaking down the painting and all of the components from the foreground to the background. The requirement for a grade was a thousand words which I felt was totally possible with the amount of interest that I had in the project. I was happy with what I had written but still did not achieve the kind of grade that I had learned for. My grades were always in the B range and I was desperate to leave the B Club. I hit a plateau and didn’t know what to do to improve my writing.
I then used the model papers posted on the blog to find the little things that were missing from all of my papers; the difference between the A paper and the B paper. I read the theses and the conclusions and the textual evidence found in the A papers. I payed close attention to the comments left by Mr. Gallagher. I tried to apply all of these criticisms to my writing and my grades went up little by little.
By the middle of third quarter I think I had found my “writing mojo” and I was confident with my writing abilities. Explication was no longer a burden and I felt up to the task when class was given the James Joyce Paper. Everyone was talking about it as if this was the end of the world as we knew it and I was nonchalant about the whole idea. In the end, I produced a ten page paper that I feel is my best work to date. When asked to select a favorite and a best piece of work from the year I was sad to not be able to put the Portrait Paper in both categories.
I was happy with the paper and happy with the grade because it exceeded my expectations. I still had faults here and there throughout the essay but when compared with the Red-Shift Analysis; it is like reading from two different authors. I know that my writing and my analytical skills have made significant strides I am happy with the end result. The course was hard and rigorous and I feel that it was necessary for all of us to become better writers. I know that it changed my writing and I am now content with my output in Mr. Gallagher’s Senior Honors. I made it through the minefield.