(Inspired by TO exercises of the past. Compiled by Josh Bolton of the present.)
Consider the image of yourself walking into English 112 three and half months ago. It’s the first day of class. You’re wondering what’s in store. You have certain assumptions about what a writing class is, and you have particular assumptions about the strengths and weakness of your own writing. You pick a seat. Your oddball teacher arrives. It all begins.
You’ve just written four distinct essays. Assignments that asked you to make rhetorical decisions about purpose, audience, topics, research, etc. You have, admit it or not, grown as a writer. But the reward of any retrospection is not to speak broadly about having changed—rather it is the opportunity to point to specific shifts, discoveries, and breakthroughs undertaken along the road.
As a final bit of reflective work, you are now asked to compose a letter to that person who walked into 112 (and the university) long ago. The point here is to explore, identify and think about the value of specific acquisitions you’ve made to the “writer’s tool belt” you now take with your into the future.
Are you better prepared to organize and plan a research paper? Is peer-review an important part of your life as a writer? Have you found you’re a better writer when your audience is a more personal one? What was the easiest essay for you to write and why? Do you still feel stymied by drafting? Are you resistant to revision?
Be honest here. You are, after all, speaking and writing to yourself. Both positive and negative retrospection is appropriate. You don’t want to sweep the bad stuff underneath the carpet. Let it all out. Has your time in 112 seen a momentous improvement in your work, or did it have only a minimal impact? Besides your effort and the quality of your writing, you will only be evaluated on your willingness to level meaningfully with yourself. Be honest.