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Reflections and Ruminating

alexb2016's picture

                I don’t belong here; that was my first thought during our first discussion of Ecological Imaginings. Adopting certain superiority over our ecological curriculum, I found myself to be above our dialogue about our emotions and reactions to nature, and the ecological systems around us. I believed that there was far more knowledge to gain from a class about poverty and culture (Poverty, Affluence, and Culture was my top choice while choosing a writing seminar over the summer) than I would ever glean from a class about how plants feel. However, I was eventually seduced by the engaging authors and ideas from the texts we read throughout the course, and by the end of the semester, was pleasantly surprised by the realization of how much I actually absorbed from the class. At the end of the semester I realized that what I had been learning about ecological relationships was a multipurpose mask; yes, the course molded me into a more informed member of our ecosystem as a whole—but it also tricked me into becoming a stronger writer in the process.

                One of my proudest accomplishments is finding the confidence to locate my voice on my own writing. Before this class, I tended to avoid writing in the first person narrative because I believed that my opinions were not substantial enough to serve as strong evidence for my thesis. While I still acknowledge that, as a college freshman, my experiences aren’t necessarily strong enough proof for my reader, I have found that I can still have an effective argument using my own voice if my experiences connect with my audience at an intimate level, and are supported by outside sources. Although the experience of writing as a first person narrator was an uncomfortable one for me, it helped me expand my writing style, and therefore helped me grow as a writer.

                That being said, the constant deadlines and revisions forced me to change my writing process in order to meet the demands collegiate level writing. Instead of beginning an essay by writing the introduction, I developed a strong thesis, and followed by writing the essay body, then conclusion, and last, the introductions. This new writing process was nearly an inversion of my previous one, but surprisingly, it wasn’t a difficult alteration to make—and for such an easy alteration, I believe that it had a powerful effect on the quality of my essay arguments. It forced me to truly form a concrete idea before blindly, and halfheartedly, jumping into a thesis.

                This lack of focus was one of my most obvious problems coming into Ecological Imaginings, and was very clear in the first couple of essays that were assigned. I speculated on larger ideas, and instead of narrowing them down for a paper, I would keep them large, which made it very easy to generalize. Not only did generalizing get me into trouble for making grandiose speculations that I couldn’t back up, but it wasn’t particularly interesting to read because there wasn’t a strong enough, specific idea for the reader to focus on. Instead of writing more speculatively in my essay body, I learned to rework those “bigger picture” ideas into my conclusion, where they could be more appropriately, and effectively, used. Instead of simply restating my thesis in my conclusion, I drew upon larger ideas that I hadn’t been able to fully address in the thesis of my essay. This helped me to refocus the ideas in my essay bodies, but also made it fun to write a conclusion—which is something that I never would have said prior to the class.

                The purpose of the class was to prepare me to write at the collegiate level, and I believe that’s what the class accomplished. Although I made an effort to actively engage myself in class discussions, I regret not making more contributions to discussion outside of class. I believe that I learned a great deal about my writing process, but realize that there is still much that could be improved on. I believe that I could have been a more active member of class, and could have invested more effort into weekly postings as well. Given that, I ruminate on the idea that if I had stayed more focused at times, my writing would have had the chance to develop even further than it has this semester. However, I have seen the results of this class strengthen my writing, and I am sure to be hard-pressed in finding another class in which I would be able to develop my writing as significantly as I have in the short time I was able to be a member in this class.