Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

For me, writing is like trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together.  There are many different components that act like the pieces, such as: the language being used, spelling and grammar, supporting evidence, a sound structure, the list goes on.  When these pieces come together, the writer should be left with the big picture, or the overall message trying to be conveyed in their writing.  Reflecting on my writing in English 203 this past semester, I have noticed a trend where the claim I have tried to express does not appear clear to the reader.  In solving this issue, I look at the feedback given by Professor McCoy and my peers, that would give supporting detail on how to revise my claim.

While I feel I have presented the pieces of the puzzle well, in that I provide evidence, revise for spelling and grammar mistakes, write in a formal and orderly fashion; the overall claim I have attempted to display has become lost in translation in my blog posts and formal essays.  This observation is critical in addressing, as the claim trying to be conveyed in a writer’s work is the most important goal of writing.

When reading these previous posts and formal assignments, I noticed a pattern where the claim in my writing is found in the middle of the text.  This hinders my argument from developing.   For evidence, I look towards my first blog post of the semester and the feedback I received regarding this issue.

Blog Post I’s subject focuses on confronting one’s flaws and mistakes in order to grow from them.  This first blog post went on for six paragraphs before I finally discussed the subject and purpose of the blog post.  After that, little support and evidence accompanied the claim, and the post was over shortly after giving my argument of “growing through realizing one’s own character flaws or mistakes”.  Looking back on this blog post I realize three major errors that I can fix to help make my writing clearer to the reader.  The first would be to move my claim of “growing through realizing one’s own character flaws or mistakes” to the beginning of my post, making the focus of the argument presented earlier to the reader.  This also allows readers to find my argument quicker, and not to waste the reader’s time.  Next, I feel I need to remove many unnecessary parts of my essay, that either drag on or have no useful value to my theme.  Lastly, for this blog post, I feel I should unpack any vague points, that may appear confusing or unknown to the reader.  This will help readers to understand what I am expressing in my writing, as readers cannot “read minds” when it comes to writing.

Some additional feedback asserted that more textual evidence for my topic was needed, which would allow my claim to be better illustrated for the reader with textual facts and an analysis.  These were reoccurring problems in Blog Post III and Blog Post IV as well, that would have been better blog posts had they been related back to course content.  Blog Post III focused on the musical artist Mac Miller, and the concept of finding balance through healthy outlets.  Blog Post IV focused on how learning to skate is similar to learning to write.  While both posts were informative and may have been well-written, they failed to meet the criteria discussed in the rubric of relating blog posts back to course content.  In Professor McCoy’s feedback, she noted that the blog post would have been more well-constructed and more relevant with relating my argument and points made back to topics from class.

Having textual evidence for a claim is important for a writer’s claim, as without it there is no real basis for the writer’s argument.  Paraphrasing a comment given to me by Professor McCoy, textual evidence in writing is similar to the data in a lab report.  One cannot hand in a lab report with a claim without having accompanying data or evidence.  Without these necessary components, the claim would not be accepted.  As a scholarly writer, I need textual evidence to accompany and support my claim, or my argument would be less appealing and accepted by the reader.

Following the feedback and advice given to me, I continued to develop claims in my writing through my blogs posts.  When I started my next blog post, I tried to remember some of the positive feedback I had received from the first blog post.  This included the conversational style approach I had, that made the reader feel engaged, as well as writing in a clear structure.

Blog Post II focused on my interpretation of what Percival Everett (the focused author of the course) meant in writing his poem “Zulus” from re:f(gesture).  My argument centralized around the idea that Percival Everett’s alphabetized poems were Everett’s own thoughts and feelings regarding different topics such as war, religion, society, etc.  Learning from my feedback, my claim was given after a brief description of the poem.  I also included a sample of the poem with an analysis to demonstrate textual evidence, and to support my claim.  While I improved on many aspects of my writing since the previous post, such as making my claim clearer and providing supportive evidence, the feedback given stated there were still areas to improve in.

One issue I noticed from the feedback in Blog Post II was the vagueness in my writing.  Throughout the blog post I repeated the word “message” multiple times, in referring to Percival Everett’s claim or interpretation.  While this may be clear to me as the writer, it may appear unclear to readers.  This creates an issue as readers cannot fill in the missing parts of my argument or claim if the main points are too vague, as well as creating an interruption in the flow of the reading.  An important practice I learned in tackling this issue is to review and revise my writing when I feel I have finished.  Taking a pause to recollect what has just been written and review its relevance to the claim allows for writers to revise the unimportant parts and sentences that do not flow.  Revising writing is critical for a writer’s claim, as what a writer writes, revises, and rewrites should develop the claim and make it clearer and more composed for the reader.  In revising my blog post, removing the vague terms such as “the message”, and replacing it with words like interpretation, analysis, or claim will allow for my writing to be easier to understand and more concise for the reader.

While I felt my writing skills were developing with each assignment I wrote, I had been a little discouraged with the continued issues in my writing with each assignment, specifically my claim.  In developing a claim, my writing had been lackluster in addressing the task.  I noticed this issue largely from my first “Bacchae”/ Frenzy essay.  The task was to write about how or what Percival Everett’s Frenzy (which shares the same story lines and elements of the Greek play “the Bacchae”) does to Euripides’ “The Bacchae” and the importance of these actions.  In drafting my essay, I made my claim apparent from the introduction, utilized textual evidence from both readings, and elaborated my main points in detail, all important issues regarding my writing in previous assignments.  However, in reading the feedback regarding the draft, I realized that my essay had functioned more as a brainstorming reading, with several different claims that could not relate or provide a strong argument for.  My claim had also been too vague in asserting that “gods are powerful”, a weak argument for a scholarly assignment.  The feedback was disappointing and discouraging for my writing, being an assignment I hoped to do well in.

Some positives from the essay was one of the last points made in the essay, in which I spoke of the irony in a specific situation from Frenzy how this affected “The Bacchae”.  This point may not have been strong for my essay; however, it was a crucial start for the task assignment that had focused on this concept.  I realized I would have to completely revise my essay with a new thesis, however I felt I was off to a strong start with this starting point that I would develop.  At this point, my writing had really begun to make a transition.  My revised “Bacchae”/ Frenzy essay focused on how textually, Frenzy ironically revises “The Bacchae” and the importance of this revision.  I had supporting evidence and my main points reflected and supported my claim well.  I felt as if I had just begun in taking the necessary steps in developing my writing into something stronger.

I believe English 203 has taught me well in realizing that feedback is important in creating a strong claim for writing.  This has been evident through the positive feedback I received from my blog posts, along with the areas I needed improvement in.  I learned important pieces to my writing include presenting my claim early in my work, having relevant textual evidence, as well as revising essays to create stronger claims.  Adding these necessary components will cause my writing to develop and grow stronger as a writer, that is able to articulate a claim well.

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