Appealing To Whom? Essay, Research Paper
Appealing To Whom?
As I sit here, I can think of few things in life more intimidating than staring at a blank computer screen with the cursor blinking in your face. How can I come up with the most catchy title or most creative approach to a school essay? How can I avoid boring my teacher to death with the exact same facts and general ideas that every other student in my English class is going to present? These are, for me, the most difficult aspects of writing for an assigned subject.
I don?t mind writing for myself. When I write for myself I don?t feel forced or intimidated. The words flow freely from my pen or the keyboard, whatever the case may be. For instance, when I email, I can?t type fast enough to convey my thoughts. When I write in my journal, my hands begin to ache to keep up with the intense flow of the thoughts streaming from my brain as I rush to get them down and onto paper. However, when it comes time to sit down and expand on an idea or topic that I am instructed to, huge barriers go up and I am confronted with a severe case of writer?s block.
It all began when I was in kindergarten as I was desperately trying to neatly make my letters fit in the two solid blue lines and stretch up to the dotted blue line that lay between them. I practiced writing two, three, and four letter words that began with ?the letter-of-the-day,? under the close supervision of Mrs. Ladron, my teacher. I eventually learned to write three?sentence stories, then haiku poetry, then short stories that included organized paragraphs. I enjoyed the encouraged creativity and especially liked making up people and the scenarios in which they were involved. Writing was fun.
The time that I spent writing in school, that I had once enjoyed, all too quickly became a time of anxiety as I reached junior high school. I suddenly felt an intense pressure to succeed and do well. I had learned to impress my teachers and that this was necessary to excel. I tried to learn who my teachers were and paid close attention to what they asked for when assigning papers to write. I would then feed them back exactly what I thought they wanted to hear, or more precisely, what I thought they thought, rather than what my own viewpoint was. I learned quickly that this was the way to get an assured ?good grade?. When I entered high school, I had planned to continue my clever tactics of giving the teacher what she wanted, however my views on writing for a specific audience rapidly changed.
During the beginning of my freshman year, I immediately picked up on the fact that my English teacher didn?t want thirty-two papers from her second period class stating the exact same thing. She assigned an essay on Oliver Twist and then handed out a paper that gave us five different possible approaches to the essay. She obviously encouraged individuality and creativity. In order to achieve an ?A?, one would have to go above and beyond the requirements and really impress her. So I tried to be creative. I tried to truly express my feelings on the symbolism that Fagin conveyed or the importance of Nancy and her role in the novel. Writing became incredibly more difficult as I was suddenly faced with obstacles such as writer?s block and was often at a loss for words, however I found this form of writing to be quite a revelation. It was incredibly satisfying to write passionately again for school, regardless of the fact that I dealt with great difficulty in transforming my thoughts into an organized essay. I no longer had the feeling of knowing that my work was empty and falsely felt. It was rewarding to know that my teacher was truly interested in my personal view and didn?t just want me to tell her what she already knew. I always longed to receive her response to my work, be it good or bad. I am not saying that I no longer wrote for my teacher as my specified audience, because I undoubtedly would consider what my teacher would think about each part of my essay, but I now actually wrote about what I really thought, what I really wanted to say.
It would not be easy for me to say that I don?t enjoy writing academically, because that is far from the truth. I have a much greater appreciation for writing now that I am able to honestly express myself. I am able to see the benefits of writing, although it can be incredibly frustrating at times when words are scarce. But why did it take me so long to understand that teachers actually do value their students? opinions? Why did I spend three years of my career as a student trying to conceal my real perspective in order to appeal to someone else?s? It might be because I found that the method of giving teachers what they wanted to hear to be so successful, despite the fact that I got nothing out of it and found it to be completely unsatisfying. Or perhaps it is due to the fact that my teachers were unable to tell what I was doing because I had become so good at it. Or maybe even because it became the only way that I was used to writing. Whatever the reason, I was luckily finally able to get past that with the help of a very encouraging freshman English teacher.
Now I wonder how we can deny ourselves of a growing experience, such as writing, simply to appeal to the likes of someone who would, in reality, truly appreciate heart-felt work just as much as we would. I know that there are far too many students who are yet to stumble upon the fact that what they have to say is indeed just as important to their advisors and educators as it is to them. Unfortunately for these people, they constantly deny themselves of the gratifying experience of completing a work that they would proudly stand behind. Instead they falsely represent ideas that they don?t necessarily believe in, in order to get a respectable grade, despite the fact that an honest attempt can be so much more rewarding even if it doesn?t always appear to be the way to get an ?A?.
So here I sit, and the computer screen is no longer blank, but I am yet again at a loss for words.