A Story of How I Sucked in Fourth Grade
In fourth grade my teacher Mr. Swift wanted to spend the year improving our writing skills. So once a month we were assigned a new project to build focus on the writing process, ending with a publishing party in which we presented our pieces to our parents. Right off the bat I was loving this (back then I used to really enjoy writing). I remember the first essay was assigned as a typical five paragraph essay on anything (the kind you hate so much in 1030). I chose to write about South Carolina because my family vacationed there.
Day one of this project we had to make an outline for our essay. When I chose the topic I knew immediately what I would write about and I could not wait to start on my favorite state. I thought I was so above this writing process, I distinctly remember going up to Mr. Swift and asking him if I could go right ahead and write my final informative draft on South Carolina. I wanted to bypass all the in between steps. To this day I have no idea why he would have said yes to me, but all that year I never did any of the preparation steps. I simply wrote the essays and called it good. Needless to say my writing was awful that year, even though I thought it was super professional.
Here I am in fourth grade thinking I was above the writing process
Over the years I began to realize that multiple drafts absolutely help improve the final product. In my last journey log I talked about the biggest speech I've ever written. It was a retiring address that needed to discuss a life lesson and would be presented in front of about 2,000 people. That was the only direction I was given. Like Lamott, I felt the pressure of this task. I needed something that was personal, original, influential, and genuine. I would panic and worry that I could never write something good enough and then my mind would wander until I ended in a long stream of thoughts just like Lamott. To focus myself I searched videos of other retiring addresses on YouTube. I would look at these people and tell myself I could do that too. Then I found my central idea, and built the fifteen minute speech around that. My speech was read by advisors, English teachers, agriculture teachers, fellow state officers, past state officers, my best friends, and my family before the final draft was approved. Lamott taught this to her students and I believe that that concept is so valuable because our own ears often become too accustomed to our words that they sometimes lose meaning.
This is me giving the speech, in the background is another unfortunate picture of me in fourth grade. Writing process appreciation transformation right here!!
I have two moods before submitting papers. One: I can not wait to get this thing out of my hands and I refuse to look at it one more time. Two: Holy cow I hope this paper is good enough, should I go through it a couple more times and make sure it's perfect? Sometimes more time is a good thing for me in the second case because I have longer to really ensure I like the piece. However, in the first case, more time just gives me more anxiety about the perfection of the piece. It really depends on the type of writing I am submitting.
All in all through the years the writing process has grown on me. Multiple drafts are my friends, peer edits are my life savers, and time could potentially hurt or help me. Either way I am grateful for the people (not Mr. Swift) who pushed me to see the mistakes in my writings and continuously strive for improvements.