Reflective Essay


One of the first writing assignments we did was the diagnostic essay. In my diagnostic essay I wrote about my challenges with introductions, structuring and organizing my ideas, being repetitive to meet a length requirement, and writing to an audience. “My goal [was] to be able to be able to reach, captivate, and move my audience with every piece I write. I want to be able to achieve power through my writing.”(Diagnostic Essay) For the most part, throughout this class, I believe I successfully addressed and overcame each of my challenges. However, I don’t think my goal was very realistic; in some of the writing assignments for this class there were very specific guidelines and criteria that did not necessarily lend themselves to creating a piece that reaches, captivates, or moves an audience. However, the argument/advocacy project lent itself to meeting that criteria and I feel that I successfully was able to reach, captivate, and move my audience and achieve power through my writing.

In my argument/advocacy paper I addressed the repercussions of focusing on achievement rather than self-discovery. In our Compose, Design, Advocate, book it informs us that an argument is, “a piece of communication whose purpose is to direct and shape an audiences attentions in particular ways.” (18) In addition, the book goes on to address the specifics of formal and informal arguments but both categories of an argument appear to have a stronger structure or form. Advocacy is explained in the book as, “communication not only means things but does things,”(10) and, “making arguments about what matters to you.” (20) Hence, these definitions would show that the argument is based more on winning whereas advocacy is more about transforming an audience and widening their perspective or moving them rather than proving them wrong. My paper ended up being more of an analysis and advocacy paper rather than an argument because I did not write to prove anyone or anything wrong necessarily but more to show people there was a problem and that it is fixable. In my initial drafts I received feedback indicating that I needed to add examples for support, correct some grammatical errors, and remove one sentence in my introduction. 

I heeded all of this advice because it was very useful, constructive, and benefited my paper greatly; especially the removal of the one sentence in my introduction because it was unnecessary and opened my argument up to the possibility of a successful opposition and counter-argument. In addition, I also received feedback acknowledging the successful identification and concentration on my audience. The success in regards to my audience was especially significant because in this assignment more than any of our others we had free reign to choose any audience and this factor left more room for misidentification and failure at reaching the audience. Referencing the Compose, Design, Advocate book I focused on the concept that, “you can never possibly address every audience perfectly- precisely because people are complex.” To try to ensure that I was able to successfully address my audience I simplified my task by making my intended audience as narrow as possible. When I took my final draft into an in-office meeting with my instructor we checked to make sure I had addressed the audience and that I had effectively forecasted and dealt with prospective counter-arguments; I had and the feedback was very positive.

In my textual analysis of KRS-One’s, “It Ain’t Where Ya From, It’s Where Ya At!” I had two different editors and in many cases their feedback blatantly contradicted one another; even down to the first sentence. One editor said, “I really like the first sentence, “ while the other questioned, “is it?” Therefore, I opted to ignore many of their suggestions; I assumed if they didn’t have a consensus but instead had opposite suggestions then I was completely justified in making the judgment call of keeping it the way it was. However, I did decide to add a paragraph addressing ethos, pathos, and logos and change the formatting of my paragraphs per my editors’ advice.  The only real challenge I had while editing this paper was one of my editors indicated that they believed I needed more analysis of the documents and less actual quotes from the document. Although only one of the editors indicated this as a concern I took it more seriously than other comments because if there was not enough analysis then I would have essentially failed at the purpose of the paper. However, upon a critical review of my paper I was able to specifically identify many portions of analysis but I went through and added a little more analysis and tried to make the segways to analysis more evident. After my editing process was finished I had an in-office meeting with my instructor; we determined that my paper had met each of the criteria and checkpoints necessary for a successful textual analysis. My instructor agreed that I had successfully determined which feedback to use and which to disregard.

The most recent assignment I completed, The Multi-Modal Literacy Project, was very challenging for me. I ended up doing a video that was essentially a slideshow of images synced with a voiceover explaining the importance of the image and each stage in the journey to how I became the writer I am today. The initial challenge of mastering the technology dissolved with time and I was able to look at the assignment prompt and down the list tackle what the prompt suggested. The challenge was not the preliminary draft though; it ended up being in the peer-editing feedback. When the class viewed my project draft the general consensus was that the information that we were supposed to articulate came across loud and clear but it had a, “textbook and distant quality.” The night after class I went home to begin the steps towards completing my final draft of the project and I became very worried about the in-class feedback. I ended up contacting my instructor about my concerns asking him if the textbook and distant qualities were issues and if so how would I change them. He expressed to me that those words were descriptors not evaluators and there was no need to change my project if it served the purpose I had in mind. After much careful consideration I ended up making a few shifts to my project; I decided that although my project satisfied the criteria for the multi-modal assignment it did not necessarily meet the criteria I outlined for myself in my diagnostic essay. If my project is distant then I am not reaching or captivating my audience. Looking back to the Compose, Design, Advocate book it suggested, “think[ing] about how you have preexisting…relationships with your audience.” My audience for this project was both the class and the instructor and in this instance our class was pretty friendly and I thought about how I would feel alienated if someone I was on a pretty friendly basis with came at me with a very distant tone. Luckily, the class provided me with some really constructive suggestions that I ended up using. I made it clear that there was a beginning and end by using the rising and falling curtain this is a courtesy to the audience so it can be clearer to the viewers what is happening. Also I inserted a picture of me at the conclusion because one of my peers suggested that this simple step would make the project feel less distant and more intimate.

I feel that I kept my goals from the diagnostic essay in mind throughout the course and was able to successfully introduce, structure, and organize my ideas without being repetitive to meet a length requirement. Also, I feel I was able to identify and write to my audience.  However, I don’t think I was necessarily successful at reaching, captivating, and moving my audience with every piece I wrote or achieving power through my writing. The latter goals regarding audience may have been a little lofty, especially taking into account writing assignments like the textual analysis in which skills like moving my audience or achieving power cannot feasibly come into play.

As far as the course goals, I feel like I definitely met them, I achieved practice with reading and writing in multiple genres, I successfully practiced a variety of stances appropriate to different rhetorical circumstances while gathering and building support for my stance. As well as developing the ability to identify, cater to, and address an audience and the aptitude to read and evaluate the writing of others and to identify the rhetorical strategies at work in written and in multimodal texts. Each of the course goals were introduced and incorporated into our assignments with the successful completion of each assignment this correlated to the successful completion to the class goal as well.