HAIDER'S THOUGHTS ON WRITING

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REFLECTION LETTER

The site is an archive of the work completed as part of the course ENG 181 by professor David Morgen at Emory University during the fall semester 2019.

I’ve always incorporated a logical way of thinking into the way I handle tasks and problems. My approach to work is very different; I take it one step at a time comparable to what a computer program would do. I envision the general writing process as one computer program implementing conditional statements (understanding my rhetorical situation), calculations (critiquing), returning values (constant editing), and loops (revising and drafting). In all honesty, before the start of the semester, English, or rather writing, was one of the subjects I was least enthusiastic about. The traumatic experience of college essays made sure that I dislike writing. The process of writing about myself was an extremely mundane, partly because I do not see myself as an interesting person. I would blankly stare at a page carefully formulating my next sentence, a process that would be very time consuming. Being a perfectionist, I have never been fully satisfied by any piece of writing done by me, before the start of this semester. Though, the assignments provided me with an opportunity to reflect on them in alphabetic text form, which was new and unconventional to me.

Before the start of the course ENG 181, my definition of writing was substantially different from what the course defined it as. I had to reluctantly complete several writing assignments and weekly sunday sketches. My expectation was that the course would be designed in such a way that it could possibly change my perception of writing. The assignments did have an impact, albeit in a rather different way.

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I’ve always adopted a narrative style of writing. The literacy narratives were distinct in nature from the other assignments. The progression of the literacy narratives showcased that I avoided writing about myself at crucial moments in alphabetic text. In the first literacy narrative I failed to understand my rhetorical situation and the purpose of my essay. The purpose of my first draft was ambiguous to say the least as seen in the first draft “I felt that we like Martin’s characters are forced to navigate the world with different definitions of morality”. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to communicate to my audience and instead of emphasizing the experiences that shaped me as a reader and a writer, my essay primarily focused on fictional characters and stories I would read growing up, thus indirectly avoiding writing about myself. After reading, interpreting, analyzing, discussing, and critically thinking about the graphic novels assigned throughout the semester, I was able to apply the same visual thinking strategies utilized by the authors and the strategies specified under Scott Mcloud’s framework for clarity writing onto the second literacy narrative assignment. Constructing a comic allowed me to develop my story from a third person perspective. I imagined myself as a character navigating his way through the story which allowed me to dodge “explicitly” writing about myself, even though the story directly addressed my progression in reading and writing. Even after the finished draft I unconventionally do not see myself in the story but a different person writing his own story. Analyzing text and visually thinking about allowed me to focus on intense situations and external factors on writing and reading that didn’t carry much weight in written form. I was able to come up with a comprehensive piece of writing with which I was satisfied: a comic.

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The tracing pages assignment broadened my view of the choices and tools the authors incorporated into their graphic novels that differentiated their work from traditional novels in moment, frame, image, and flow. I learnt that comics add an extra layer of emotion as stated in the tracing pages assignment, “David uses a lesser number of panels per page in Stitches which adds to the intensity of each scene” and invokes reactions from the reader which an alphabetic text would not be able to do. The combination of both the images and the words provides the reader with an “internal” view of the situation as David Small points out in his book, “Now both of them were angry with me. The little room felt as close as a coffin”, the situation, though, different from my personal struggle with writing was similar in the way I felt about writing during the college essay process. Though, I define my experience with writing as traumatic, the tracing pages assignment allowed me to use similar strategies the authors implemented in their own graphic novels to showcase trauma. Ultimately, assembling and combining the visual and written documents together resulted in my third literacy narrative. The halfa kucha assignment allowed me to investigate further about trauma and recovery. Though the most challenging aspect of the assignment was properly understanding my rhetorical situation and recognizing the set of constraints that forced to be very concise with the points I wanted to make.

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The sunday sketches forced me to think of different ways to attempt the assignments. Sketch 5: triptych, sketch 7: quadriptych, and sketch 10: tell a true story aided me in understanding how to properly construct my rhetorical composition and to develop a comprehensive comic in an organized manner.

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With the semester coming to an end, the course may not have significantly changed my perception of writing in general. I still cower at the sight of five hundred word subjective essay that reminds me of my unpleasant experience with college essays. It did, though, change the way how I view writing. It is not limited to alphabetic text but it can be expressed in a variety of modes such as digital, verbal, visually, etc. The course allowed me to maintain and manage my digital identity and to ethically engage in online activities and give credit where due. I would adopt the same systematic approach to writing as I did before, but with a twist. I would now tackle the writing process for mainly subjective work visually. Insead of following the traditional process of researching, editing, and revising, I would utilize visual thinking strategies in subjective writing assignments and figuratively merge images with text to produce effective writing.

The link to the assignment is given here.

Image credits: https://s3.amazonaws.com/libapps/accounts/47607/images/writing_process.jpg

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