Tuesday, October 1, 2013

IWSG: Criticism

In my English class, we've been assigned to write a paper about our experiences with writing. I thought I'd share it with my readers!

           As I walked into my seventh grade English class, my heart skipped a beat.  On the board, written in big, black letters, were the words "Book Reports Back Today".  My stomach lurched out of fear of getting a bad grade. I had been working on this report tirelessly, and was sincerely hoping for at least one of two  things: a good grade and/or positive feedback. Unfortunately, my hopes were immediately shattered. As my teacher walked to each desk with a stack of graded papers, the class's anxiety was obvious. My teacher, Ms. Smith, lurked like a rattlesnake waiting to strike as she walked up and down the aisles of desks. I was terrified for my turn to receive back my report. Ms. Smith stopped at my desk, looked at me with disgust, and said, "This is a pretty bad paper, Morgan. I know you can do better than this." I felt as if she had just punched me in the stomach. After reading that comment over and over again, I was tempted to rip up this paper and burn it in my fireplace. Accepting negative comments has always been the hardest part of writing for me. I have also been extremely conscious of what other people think about my writing. If I receive negative feedback, I automatically jump to the conclusion that I am the worst writer ever.
After this incident, I learned that it is really important to ensure that the teacher can sense that you gave a substantial amount of effort on an assignment. However, effort is not enough to get you the grade you hope for. An incident similar to the above one occurred during Junior Theme. I had been working on my paper in the same manner that I had back in seventh grade. When Junior Theme first started, I had written my first draft. A few days later, I received it back, but with several corrections that I needed to make. I was a bit disappointed, but knew that it could have been worse- and that was shortly a reality. I tried my best to make the corrections that my teacher, Mrs. Brown, asked, but that did not work out as well as I had hoped it would. I received my second draft back, and it had even more corrections on it! On the bottom of the draft, I read the words See Me for a Conference.
When conference time finally came, Ms. Brown and I had a long talk. One of the most memorable things she said to me was, " While Junior Theme is not going the way you planned, it does not define you as a writer." I was absolutely shocked, in a positive way, when she said that. I was expecting her to tell me how horrible of a writer I was. Even though I did end up receiving a C on that paper, it was still a valuable experience. Just because a teacher calls you in for a conference, it does not necessarily mean that her feedback is automatically horrible.
After these incidents, I stopped jumping to the conclusion that I am a horrible writer whenever someone gives me negative feedback about my writing. This is merely one person's opinion. Writing is subjective, which means that everyone has their own opinion about any given piece. Also, because writing is subjective, there is not one right answer; rather, there can be infinite ways to respond to a writing prompt. It is not uncommon for people to have different opinions on the same piece of writing.  Even if I receive a low grade on a paper, I know that I am still a good writer who writes from the bottom of my heart.

1 comment:

  1. This post was fabulous writing, and you're right that writing is so subjective. Way to stay positive. Keep on writing!

    -Ilima Todd (IWSG co-host)


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