In Style

In Style
The following is an excerpt of a conversation that occurred between our staff writer and Senior English Education major, one day prior to the due date of the final paper for EN 220 ? Expository Writing.
I: Here it is, one day before the final paper is due for Expository Writing, have you given any thought to what you would like to address?T: The final paper (said with a chuckle). Somehow it always seems to feel like this is the one that should say it all. Even after four plus years of college, I haven?t the foggiest as to how such expectations arise. It always amazes me how expect all of the thoughts I have wrestled with for an entire quarter to suddenly appear in one beautiful paper full of flowing ideas and logical thought. And all this with little or no effort on my behalf, of course.

But, realistically, I guess its time I get down to business.

I: So, what exactly is it that you would like to say?

T: I know I want to focus on the change that I?ve seen within my own style throughout this quarter, because it has definitely undergone some changes and mostly for the better, I might add. Our assignment is to uncover our identity as it appears within our writing and the relationship that exists between our writing and ourselves. This feels like a loaded topic, and I?ve struggled to determine just how I plan to tackle it.

I: Have you discovered that plan yet?

T: Not really (and another chuckle). No, just kidding. I think I have an approach. I guess I figure there?s no better place to start than at the beginning.

I: So where is the beginning?

T: To truly start at the beginning, I?d have to go all the way back to the minute I was born, ?cause I really feel that everyone I?ve met and everything I?ve done have contributed to my style in some way or another. But, I?ll spare you that story, and cut to the abridged version.

I: The abridged version?

T: Yeah, instead of giving you the whole detailed story, I?ll try to pick out the most important parts. Actually, maybe I?ll just focus on this quarter in particular. It will narrow it down a bit more. We?re supposed to take a good look at our first paper for Expository and determine how our views have changed seen since then.

I: Have your views changed?

T: In some ways, yes, and in others, no. Good, straight forward, answer, right?! (laugh) But seriously, I still think of my university education in terms of journey. A long road with twists and turns.

I: A journey?

T: Yep. I like the idea of a journey because it?s something that has no definite beginning and it allows me to determine the end. But, if I had the paper to write over again, I think I would focus more on the fact that my university education has been just one ?road? in my educational journey. It?s a little easier to give a road bumps and pot holes and wrong turns.

I: If you had just three sentences to sum up your ideas in that paper, what would you say?

T: Yeah, right? No?.I guess I would say, my university education has been controlled first by myself as driver down the educational road. Secondly, it?s been controlled by my pit crew (parents, friends, etc.) who were there to push me back on the road in the right direction. Unfortunately, there?s also been a third party at times that influenced my style in some negative ways as well.

I: O.K. That?s three sentences, but you kind of left us hanging. What are the negative influences?

T: I?d have to say that the most negative influences on my style have been the close minded people (teachers, sometimes) that I?ve run into along the way. Not everyone has the same opinion, especially when it comes to writing. And, believe it or not, there have been people out there who don?t like mine (smile).

I: What happened when you ?ran into? these people?

T: Well, when it didn?t mean my grade, it was pretty easy to just say to myself, ?Well aren?t you a stick in the mud?? and get on with things. When the grade was at stake, it wasn?t that easy. It usually meant that I?d give in and write in whatever way the teacher expected me to write. I wish I could say I had more courage, but I guess I?m just a chicken-shit at heart.

I: How did these past experiences with writing influence you performance on that first paper?

T: In retrospect, I still like that paper, but I wish that I had maybe been more creative. Maybe focused on giving the reader more of a first hand glimpse rather than laying it out straight. It might be more fun to read if you had to do some work to decipher the metaphor yourself.

I: Do you think that it would work?

T: I do now. If you would have asked me that twelve weeks ago, I may have given you a different answer. Don?t get me wrong. I?m not saying all form should be thrown entirely out the window. I think there?s a pretty delicate balance there.

I: A balance between what?

T: That?s what I?m still working on. It?s hard to put a finger on it, really. It?s one of those things that you just know is there. For me, I know I?ve managed to create this balance when I finish writing something and it feels right. When it feels right is when my style comes forth, I think.

I: So, what is your style?

T: For a long time, this would have been a really tough question for me to answer. Mainly because my style was something that I never really thought about before. After this quarter, I?ve sort of determined that my style can mean many different things at many different times ? that?s what I like about it. If I took samples of everything I?ve ever written, I?m sure I?d find some fundamental similarities, but I almost delight in being able to be different every time I write.

I: Does this mean that you conform to the topic at hand? The teacher at hand?

T: Wow, another one of those questions that I probably would have had a much different answer to at the start of the quarter. As far as conforming to the teacher, maybe, still a little bit. Definitely not as much as I did when I was a freshman. It would be a lie to say I didn?t give a shit ? everyone wants to succeed, right? But, I think that it has gotten a little easier to make my own style ?work? in a number of different situations. Even in this course where our focus has been on tearing down the barriers of the official style, I have found it hard to strike out for uncharted territory at times. Sometimes my own inhibitions would create the expectations I had run into so often in the past. As for topic, it kind of plays a role as far as the approach I take to the paper. Does this make sense?

I: Sure, but if the teacher doesn?t dictate your style and the topic isn?t a determining factor, what is?

T: I think that by far, purpose is what determines the aspect of my style that I choose to develop most fully. It?s what helps me decide my mode: observer, creator, composer, what have you. In that way, I think that my writing can be just about anything I want it to be.

I: How would you define the relationship between yourself and your writing?

T: Alright, enough with these tough questions already!

I like to write because my writing is whatever I decide. If I want to expose my innermost thoughts and feelings to my reader, I can. If, on the other hand, I just want to write for fun, I can do that too. My writing is an expression of myself. I can say what I think/feel through my writing or use my writing as a tool to ?process? what others think and feel in the world around me. Just as my moods have the ability to change, my writing can also change. Sometimes without my knowledge. This makes no sense? this whole ?style? thing is really tough to pin down.

I: You said at the start of the interview that this quarter has changed some of your ideas about style and writing. What, specifically, has changed?

T: It has taken me a long time to realize that I am my own worst critic. Especially when it comes to my writing. Because of this, writing is not something that I always look forward to ? even though I?m an English major! Oftentimes, I?ll strike out ideas before they even have time to start to develop and as a result, I make writing even more difficult than it is. Recognizing and understanding my style has helped me deal with this in some ways. As we looked at various styles of writing this quarter, I was able to better understand my own.

I: It sounds as though you?ve had a pretty productive quarter, and I understand it?s your last. What do you have planned for the future?

T: Graduating!!! Don?t forget, I still have that paper due tomorrow?

After that, I?d love to find a job teaching somewhere and actually put what I have learned to use!

I: Well, good luck in your future. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for the interview.

T: You bet! I was glad to share.

In Style 7.7 of 10 on the basis of 3075 Review.