Writing is about the expression of ideas in one’s own voice.
Oftentimes we are taught to write in five-paragraph essays, five to seven words a line, three lines to the introduction and conclusion and six lines to the body paragraphs. This concept is completely incorrect; writing should simply be an ad-lib act, like a jazz soloist or a stand-up comedian. Writing, much like those practices, is an art in its own form. An essay shouldn’t be something students dread, it should be an opportunity to convey thoughts and feelings to the reader. I have always had a certain desire to want to neglect the “rules” given to me in high school when writing; therefore, “Writing About Writing” clarifies as well as describes what was coursing through my mind when I was forced to write those five-paragraph essays.
There has only been one time when my writing really caught the attention of one of my teachers–the introduction had her so impressed she read it to the rest of the class and afterward stated, “Now THAT’S an introduction.” It was a situational introduction describing the fearful aspect of texting and driving, and the aftereffects it can have; and that was my most cherished introduction in high school–not even the next three years of it had anything worth telling about. Other than that one time, I had always felt that my essays were about spelling my words correctly, or avoiding comma splices and split infinitives, or identifying proper use of gerunds, or utilizing a polysyndeton (what I learned in Latin as a grammatical term describing the repeated use of the word “and” or the word “or”). The worst experience by far that I have ever had when given a prompt and being expected to procure excessive information on it was when I was a freshman in high school. I had to write a two-page paper on the first chapter of “Animal Farm,” which was a great book when I wasn’t being forced to write a two-page paper on the uneventful first chapter (I managed to receive a thirty percentile on that paper). There are certain times (such as this one) where I feel comfortable writing freely, since there are no solid rules to follow and I am allowed to express my ideas without being told I misspelled “totalitarian” and having that be the focus of the reader for the rest of the text. I remember one such instance during my ACT Writing portion: the prompt was to describe the current educational system of my school. Perfect. I had buckets of information on the incredibly biased funding of my high school, from the football team being given seventy to eighty percent of the school’s annual funding; to the twenty-year-old Personal Fitness textbooks that were crumbling, missing pages, written upon; to the band and orchestra and ROTC and Latin and engineering organizations having to raise their own money to go to competitions or purchase new equipment and study material. It was a personal topic for me, and I felt comfortable writing it.
Stuart Greene states in the very first line of his essay, “Argument as Conversation,” that argument “is very much a part of what we do every day…” Most people would hear the word “argument” and almost instinctively connect that word to verbal strife–a back-and-forth between opposing parties, each defending their points of view with different facts and opinions that either support their own stance or negate the other’s. This instinctive definition of “argument” is, ironically, correct–only, it isn’t considered “strife.” As Greene would describe it, an argument is like a conversation, a trading of views and ideals that revolves around a central thought. Arguments are based on prior knowledge, research, inquiries, and–you guessed it–arguments. In order to establish an argument, you must perform research on inquiries you have to acquire the prior knowledge of the subject so that you may create a solid argument that defends or opposes a certain point of view. You could even go so far as to draw information from your findings in the future. Each of these approaches to the concept of arguments is, to me, individually effective as well as collectively. The collection of these basic theses of arguments (which correspond to the writing practice in the way of creating the skill to develop an argument worth defending) is not a boring set of rules from high school, but a brilliant foundation to successful and effective writing.