Mini Essay 1

Prashant Patel The Colors That Comprise My Self-Portrait as a Writer ENC 5705 Self Portrait Of A Writer: March 6, 2020

I. Introduction:

In painting a self-portrait of myself as a writer I can delineate a picture of a person who struggles in trying to balance writing as a form of expression of knowledge and establishing my methodological approach to the craft of writing. Within this context, the structure of my writing takes on a certain cadence that requires me to balance certain variables. These variables are: (1). The differences in expectation and style between writing for undergraduate courses and graduate courses. (2). How I view the correlation that exists between the use of technology and writing as a factor in constructing knowledge. (3). How my approach to writing has influenced my views towards teaching.

Each of the elements above will be discussed individually as different types of paints that can be integrated into a self-portrait of how I view myself as a writer. In conjunction, I will also integrate the arguments of different authors. The perspective of the different authors comprised the reading schedule for unit one of our course.
Therefore, I will argue that how I think of myself as a writer is still an ongoing process. Within the contours of this journey, each section of the following paper is meant to be an analysis of how a particular color within my portrait is a symbol of how I navigate that part of my writing process.

II. The Differences In Expectation & Style Between Writing For An Undergraduate Course & Graduate Course

The first color that I would use to begin my self-portrait as a writer is the color gray. this is because the color gray is representative of nuances and the difference between writing for an undergraduate course and a graduate course. From my own experience, the gray color resides in an area of my portrait that suggests there are differences in expectation and style. The result of this is that it complicates my capability in juggling following the conventional rules of writing and forming my writing technique.
Joseph Petraglia argues in the article “Writing As An Unnatural Act”, that institutions of higher learning in the United States have a misconception of the act of writing. This misconception is born from that writing instruction, and the writing process involved certain aspects of mental acuity the permit writers to reach their own goals (Petraglia 82). Therefore, higher education places importance on the strict instruction of following the rules of writing. This was the case as a first-year writing student at Stetson University.
My introduction to academic writing was unique in that it could be stated that I possessed “an absence of prior knowledge” (Robertson, Taczak, & Yancey 190). The authors place this concept into context when a student does not possess the skills and abilities of academic writing due to the quality and nature of the writing instruction that may have received in the past. However, in my case, I was unique in the fact that I did not have any intense writing instruction of any nature that has a part of my educational career up to my entrance into Stetson University.

Take for example that during my high school years I was placed in special education courses. The impact of this was that the degree to which I was exposed to quality writing was limited. As a result, I did not have opportunities to write about books or novels, at the expense of reading critical academic writing. According to the authors, this is a factor in first-year writing students possessing an absence of knowledge (Robertson, Taczak, & Yancey 190).

In light of this problem, the only frame of reference that I acquired was academic argumentative writing. Within this context the quality of instruction centered around articulating a thesis, making sure that your body paragraphs have a topic sentence that is connected to your overall thesis and having a conclusion. This type of instruction is considered by Petraglia to be “ill-structured” (Petraglia 80). This is because formalist instruction does not permit a student the capability to incorporate cognitive real-life experiences that they encounter outside of the classroom into a student’s writing  ( Petraglia 79).
Notwithstanding, the author’s criticisms of the quality of writing instruction within higher education, this formalistic format was my only frame of reference when transitioning into graduate school. As a consequence, I had a difficult experience in the actual task of writing. This is because, within the parameters of the field of writing and rhetoric, a student is required to incorporate their own experiences into a methodological analysis.
For example, in a majority of courses writing and rhetoric students are required to place into context how their personal experiences influence how they interpret a text. This is difficult for me since from my perspective, the inclusion of personal experiences within the confines of critical analysis can be a representative form of bias. Take, for example, my experience as a disabled person. The personal experiences that I have concerning this aspect of my life, can influence how I view a prospective of a text that is documented from a feminist perspective.
A direct result of this is, I will not be able to objectively analyze another point of view that may have merit without incorporating my own experience that might lead to an alternative conclusion. So, therefore, I must consistently rely on what I learned at Stetson and reference towards deductive argumentation. The significance of this section is it amplifies the difficulties that I have had in crafted my philosophy of what writing means to me.
The significance of the difference between my writing experience in undergraduate as compared to graduate school is that graduate school writing creates a gray area. This gray represents a nebulous space, the requires a student to navigate undefined territories without a compass. Graduate school requires compels the student to develop their map in navigating the writing experience. I have not found an appropriate navigation tool that will allow me to blend aspects of undergraduate writing, to that of graduate studies.
As a consequence of these two forces, it has formed a gray area in my portrait, because I’m still operating in an undefined space. This space resides at the center of my portrait. This is because I’m still evolving as a writer. I place this gray area at the center of my writing canvas because the center of the writing canvas is meant to represent a place where artists have the most difficulty creating a concrete image of themselves as having potential success in performing a skill.
As a consequence, molded within this gray area is the contours of myself. This is meant to be a representation of the fact that I am still not sure of what my writing identity is in terms of navigating the differences in writing between graduate school and college. Moreover, contributing to the nuance of this problem that exists between technology & writing in being a factor that constructs knowledge.

III. How I View The Relationship That Exists Between Technology & Writing As A Factor In Constructing Knowledge

The correlation that exists between the use of technology & writing further adds to the complexity of my self-portrait as a writer. This complexity is a byproduct of the knowledge that I derived about writing from the interdependent relationship between technology and writing. I will incorporate the colors of red and yellow. The color red will be assimilated into my self-portrait as a means of demonstrating the drawbacks of the relationship between technology and writing.
Moreover, the color yellow will represent the possibilities and potential of technology. How an individual acquires knowledge can be defined as a cognitive process. In which person accumulates ideas that inform his or her worldview. 
An example in which I can illustrate the potential liabilities of the use of technology concerning writing in the creation of knowledge is to situate this discussion within a context of how I prepare to write an assignment. For instance, I use Dragon voice dictation as a means to articulate construct my ideas onto paper. However, Dragon NaturallySpeaking can be a mediating factor and how I write. David R. Russell argues in the chapter titled: Writing Mediates Activity, From the book: Naming What We Know;  Threshold Concepts Of Writing Studies, the act of writing itself :
“mediates – comes a between, intervenes the activity of people. Writing occupies and intermediate or middle position to form a connecting link the people use to coordinate their activity.” (Russell 26). in unpacking the language that is used in this quotation, what Davis is saying is that the activity of writing is just one step that as a part of a formula that people use to make sense out of their actions in a certain situational context. This idea can be directly connected to how I prepare to do writing assignments.
In articulating how I prepare to write it can be stated that it is confusing I don’t know organized endeavor. I usually begin writing out, a draft in longhand. However, due to my disability, I’m incapable of writing for long periods., of writing in longhand I automatically switch to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Even though this tactical strategy can be perceived as being efficient it has the dangers of mediation.
For example, if I am writing a paper and I switch from writing in longhand to Dragon, this represents an opportunity for reconceptualizing an idea. That can be further elaborated on. However, it can also represent a dangerous time in which I create obstacles for myself in my writing I can have dangerous consequences for knowledge development. An illustration of this is my habit to constantly rewrite documents when all that is called for is just minor revision.
This formula for writing can be dangerous for how an individual can cultivate knowledge. This is because, to permit the growth of knowledge, an individual must clarity how ideas can develop further through either investigation or study. The result of having too many drafts contributes the craft of writing and the knowledge that is derived from it to become entangled in too many ideas that can cause a student to focus on an insignificant concept which may create a false sense of knowledge.

In direct consequence of the role that technology can play  I would place the color red onto the edges of my canvas.  This is due to the fact the edges of the canvas are sharp and require a student to concentrate so that not smudge the corner of a painting. The smudges are representative of a false construction of knowledge that is created by writing causing a misunderstanding of a concept. this misunderstanding can be traced back to the fact that the methodology that I use to accumulate knowledge was incorrect.
In contrast, there are many positive roles that technology can play to induce knowledge of writing skills. In my experience technology has opened my eyes to how writing engenders ideas and expands knowledge. Heidi Estrem in the chapter, Writing Is A Knowledge-Making Activity, from the textbook, Naming  What We Know; Threshold Concepts Of Writing Studies believes that the act of writing creates knowledge ( Estrem 19). From the author, writing such things as “Collaborative whiteboard diagrams, and complex doodles and marginalia, for example, are generative in central to meaning-making even though we don’t identify them as such” (Estrem19). In situating this quotation into context, the author postulates that any type of writing is a knowledge-based activity and is dependent upon the medium in which it is demonstrated. this is significant because I can connect it back to my thinking about the duality between writing and technology.
For example, when I write a page of language with the assistance of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The words that comprise the sentences of that text represent a cognitive approach to writing in that my brain is generating ideas that’s as a basis for the potential explanation of an idea. In terms, the capability to express knowledge, the ideas and sentences that are coming out of my mouth, which are articulated in a structured manner, along with the correct syntax and grammar is indicative of a form of knowledge that I possess of writing.
I would situate the yellow colors at the bottom of my canvas right below my backdrop. This is because traditionally yellow is perceived as being a color that accommodates a new beginning or brightness. Therefore, placing the color yellow at the bottom of the canvas will represent my writing process to mean that it has potential. This will be the case, as long as I steer clear of the red paint which is situated on the edges of my canvas.
Unlike the previous section that discussed the gray areas between my transition from writing for college audiences to writing for graduate scholars, this section evaluates a juxtaposition between how the role of technology and the way living forms how I construct knowledge in terms of writing. This juxtaposition cannot be characterized as a struggle to make sense of a gray area, it is more of an awareness on my part on how to avoid certain pitfalls in the writing process.

IV. How My Approach To Writing Can Influence My Philosophy Towards the Teaching Of Writing

It is clear from the portrait that I paint my perception of myself as a writer as being unclear and eclectic. This is because I have not fully formed a writing identity that helps me navigate the contours of the different types of academic writing involved. The absence of a plan characterizes my writing as being a form of “critical incidents, motivating new conceptions practices of composing” (Robertson, Taczak, and Yancey 201). The authors define a “critical incident” as “a situation what efforts either do not succeed at all only minimally”
(Robertson, Taczak, and Yancy 201).
In other words, a “critical incident” is an event or incident the precipitates a writer to reevaluate their writing processes following an error or a mistake. Moreover, a “critical incident” permits a writer to reevaluate how prior knowledge has played a role in causing the critical incident. However, due to the fact when I arrived at Stetson University with no fundamental prior knowledge of the rules that comprise writing, I had no reference point or prior experience to rely on as a means of coping. In graduate school, I rely on this existing formula, which in turn has created several “critical incidences”.
An example of a “critical incident” that recently occurred involves my failure to fully comprehend the directions of an assignment. The class ENC 6720 is a research methodologies course, in this course, students learn and apply different research methods towards either qualitative or quantitative problems. For this assignment, my task was to complete a critical rhetorical analysis of three articles the discussed the rhetorical styles in Vietnam and Persian Gulf war novels.
However, due to a lack of prior experience which I have in writing such documents I was unable to fall back on a reference point. This made it difficult for me to design my evaluation in the manner the professor called for. A direct negative outcome of this experience is that I had written three versions of the same assignment.

The color which is best analogous to my present approach writing is black. The color black to me represents darkness and misdirection, when I see this color, I search for the way out of a dark tunnel. The black color will encompass the entire background of my portrait. The purpose behind using black is to make a potential viewer of my portrait appreciate the degree to which I am looking for answers in my journey to become a better writer.
Therefore, my formalistic approach is incongruent with the nature of instruction that I am receiving at UCF because formalist according to Richard Fulkerson focus on the structure of argument, grammar, and spelling. This approach is out of step with current day teaching philosophies (Fulkerson 344). the significance that my existing approach to writing will have on any future philosophy to pedagogy is it serves as an illustration of what to avoid when approaching a writing assignment.
I will instruct in line my future students to the fact that writing is a skill that is hard to conquer since there are no existing rules or principles that can serve as a guide in how to approach writing.  I will also design course activities that highlight the benefits and limitations that technology brings to writing. For instance, I will design assignments that will require students to use voice dictation software, to appreciate how it can both limit and expand once the concept of knowledge.
The most salient point that I will attempt to imbue in my students, is that writing is an adventure in trial and error. This is because a writer constantly struggles to develop their processes. These processes change rapidly and consistently. Therefore, a student must throw anything at the kitchen sink and see what sticks.

V. Conclusion & Reflection

As I reflect on what I have written in this essay, it is an illustration of how I think the act of writing is not a process or a journey but a labyrinth with twists and turns. That is fluid and results in an eclectic and abstract portrait of a writer. The portrait that I delineated in this essay is a complex one, this includes a shaded gray region where I’m struggling come to terms with the differences in approach and style between writing for college and writing for graduate school.
For just a position, I also include the colors red and yellow and do my portrait to be symbolic of the dangers and opportunities that come along with technology, writing, and the development of knowledge. The final portion of my portrait is the black area which surrounds the background of my canvas as a reference to the difficulties that I’m having in writing for graduate school audiences. This portrait will function as an example of how I teach my students that writing is an experience of trial and error.

Work Cited

Adler-Kassner, Linda, et al. “Writing Mediates Activity.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Utah State University Press, 2016.
Adler-Kassner, Linda, et al. “Writing Is A Knowledge-Making Activity.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Utah State University Press, 2016.
Petraglia, Joseph, and Joseph Petraglia. Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Routledge, 2009.
Wardle, Elizabeth. Writing about Writing. Bedford Books St. Martins, 2020.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, et al. Writing across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Cultures of Writing. Utah State Univ. Press, 2014.

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