Saturday, May 15, 2004


Well, we have finally and thankfully reached the end of a semester filled with blogs, computers, science fiction, cyber buddies, and total stress. Whether dealing with essays or research papers, electronic issues or making sure everything gets turned in on time, we have all stuck out a tough semester and a tough class! I hope this portfolio will be pain-free, relatively short (which I am not known for), and simple. Of course I hope to show you how I have grown as a writer, my writing process, my goals, and where I wish to go with my writing, but I really want to give you a peek into how I feel about my writing and why I do what I do.

This will be divided into sections (Introduction, Goals, Assignments, and Final Reflection), containing links to particular papers when suitable. Comment boxes appear below the end of the posts, and are pretty self-explanatory.

Thank you guys so much for all the comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism—good luck!


Because I entered into this course fresh out of my junior year of high school, I was a little worried about whether or not I could hack it. I have always been a worrier and will be one until the day I die, so naturally I freaked out about everything. As far as goals go, I don’t really know if I had any specific ones, besides wanting to pass the course with a decent grade! I will admit that I am more concerned with passing a class than with improving myself or my personal skills. I am not a goal-oriented person, but, of course, as the semester rolled on, I did eventually develop some goals relating to my writing.

1. I wanted to have every assignment done and turned in on time, which, as far as I know, I accomplished. Because I tend to work ahead of schedule, time was never a big issue for me.

2. I also wanted to really understand and get into the literature. I love reading (don’t tell my parents ;) and love finding underlying connections between stories and the real world. The novels really allowed me to expand my horizons, getting me into a genre that I never would have imagined liking. This goal was fairly easy for me to accomplish because I naturally get sucked into books and really enjoyed Neuromancer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Postmodernism and cyberpunk are fascinating subjects that I will definitely look more into, and science fiction has really opened my eyes to technology.

3. Dealing more with actual writing, I particularly wanted to be able to narrow or expand my focus or thesis. I have a tendency to ramble on about topics or to drift into irrelevant areas of thought, but the 1-page responses and the research paper really helped me in this task. They also allowed me to come up with interesting topics concerning the novel and other areas of the class. Now I feel that I have efficiently learned about and used thesis statements, developing and sticking to them.

4. Lastly, I wanted to fully develop and use main points and ideas. I believe that I learned this throughout high school, but never voluntarily used it until now. When writing, I always plan what I am going to say around three or four main points and use those ideas to prove my thesis. I feel that most of my papers did contain this strategy, and it allowed me to keep on task.


Here is where you will see the actual assignments that I have decided to include in my portfolio. Most will be entire pieces and others will be segments or excerpts. Click on the links to see each piece (some are grouped together) and read them at your discretion.

Writing Process
Well, I must admit that I hate to revise papers. I am the kind of person who writes something, revising it along the way, and then turns it in--I hate writing and rewriting drafts. Although most of my papers were simply done in one straight sitting, such as this 1-page response, a few gave me a bit more trouble, causing extensive rewriting and deleting. The synthesis, by far, was my worst paper and must have consisted of four or five drafts. I am not sure if I was just in a funk or I completely didn’t get the assignment. My guess would be the latter.

The first draft solely went one example at a time and contained a rather weak introduction. Skipping now to the third draft, it had a few unnecessary paragraphs although integrated with resources, and the organization of the paper itself was rather poor and confusing. The final draft (the link appearing under “Pieces I'm Proud of”) contained a much better introduction and conclusion, while leaving out a few pointless paragraphs and being organized in a much more simple way.

Peer Review
In high school we all did peer reviews, but not to the caliber or importance as in this class. A few people (Mrs. Caetano, Daphne, and Cindy) really helped me with many of my works, reading and rereading them to find errors or logical mistakes. Because my family knows nothing about the class, they were not much help and I had to rely on the class to get the feedback I needed. Thanks again for all the comments!

I believe my best example of peer review is also displayed in my synthesis. As previously mentioned, it was the piece I revised the most, due to comments from peers and classmates. Several people read it several times, helping me to organize it and include the required “sprinkling” of resources.

I believe that my growth as a writer has come in terms of learning the differences between dashes, colons, and semicolons; being able to focus my writing relating to a thesis statement; and being forced to come up with my own essay or writing topics.

I have always been one of those people who can write fairly well, but punctuation was never my greatest area of English. I don’t know how or why, but I never learned the difference between dashes, colons, and semicolons in high school. Finally, I think I get the gist of things. I consider this to be one of my greatest achievements of the semester.

Again, having an effective and narrow thesis statement has really aided my writing process. Now, instead of throwing a bunch of ideas together, I can thoroughly plan what I want to say, how I want to say it, and what I want it all to lead up to. Before I just kind of got lucky relating a few aspects of a topic to each other, whereas now I know what I want to do and how I want to do it. I feel that the best example of this growth is represented by my Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? essay and my first analysis critique. The Androids essay was fairly easy to write because I really wanted to discuss Mercerism and religion in the novel. I came up with a clear yet detailed thesis statement, which allowed me to incorporate all the thoughts and views I had established from reading the novel. Knowing exactly what I wanted to write about and having an obvious thesis was a great help! The analysis critique was more difficult to write because it was the first major assignment, but I had a clear view of how all of the stories and photograph related to each other. By compiling these ideas into a solid thesis statement, I was kept right on track and the paper flowed smoothly.

I am sure that we all have never really had to come up with our own essay topics. Usually the teacher just throws some ridiculous theme our way and expects us to churn out a book or a masterpiece. I really enjoyed coming up with my own ideas and finding different relationships or viewpoints present within novels and the textbook. We were allowed to be creative and were encouraged to write about what interested us most. I could write about the most outrageous or ridiculous topic I wished, as long as it related to the assignment. My second analysis critique seemed pretty far out there for some because the chapter in the book revolved around icons, while I spoke about politics. However, I saw a clear connection between the stories and ran with it. If I would have had to write specifically on icons, who knows what would have happened. The 1-page response involving art and Dick’s novel seemed completely obvious to me. It was somewhat hidden and subtle, but I noticed it as a complete oddity. Because I was allowed to come up with my own topic, I could further research and develop this relationship.

Pieces I'm Proud of
I believe that the pieces I am most proud of are my research paper and my final synthesis. Because I put so much time and effort and passion into each of these papers, I believe that they are the works that really helped me to grow. The research paper was totally up my alley because I got to write about something that completely captivated me. The synthesis pretty much speaks for itself. After five drafts and numerous comments, I finally got this puppy over with. It was really hard for me, but I managed to stick it through and revise to the best of my ability. These may not be my best pieces, but they certainly took the most time.

Final Reflection

This has been a great semester and I am glad that I did not chicken out, dropping yet another class because I am a total pansy. I really enjoyed writing many of the papers--the research assignment evoking some pretty strong feelings and allowing me to vent a little. I love being creative and writing what I feel, and this is where I hope to take my writing. Literature is great and all, and I love critiquing different novels and stories, but I really love writing about things that spark my fire like talk shows, society, the future, and history. Arguing has always been my strong suit, so I guess I should take some sort of persuasive or argumentation course to further develop my ideas and strategies (I have heard about the argumentation IGETC course on campus—no way). I know that I tended to be one heck of a pessimistic person all semester, but I really do have a passion for life and I really do love talk shows and some reality TV (surprise, surprise!). As Jerry Springer leaves with a final thought, so will I: English isn’t bad once it’s over. Sure it was hard, but it was fun. I am really proud of everything I have written and look forward to more research papers—not!