What I am most struck by in re-reading my Commonplace Book is how well I am able to recall how each individual text has effected me. I remember the context in which I read each text, and why I think a text had a certain feeling. I remember feeling inspired and excited after reading ’Souls Belated’ because I had just gone on a Leadership Retreat. I remember writing about springtime in my first post on My Antonia because I was anxious for sunshine and warmer weather. The cold, dreary sky was starting to get to me, as were other outside forces in my life. It is a peculiar feeling to recall exact moments and feelings, particularly surrounding something as mundane as reading. Since I’m an English major, reading obviously plays a significant role in my life, however, I fear that the emotions it draws from me are ones which I often disregard. Or rather, I don’t acknowledge how my reaction to the books I read can serve as representations t0 how I am actually feeling.
As for what I noticed in my posts, I was quite happy to see the progression of my blog move towards a higher level of analysis as the semester aged on. Especially with my most recent posts on Lorde, Ellison, Diaz, and Plath, there is a heightened level of maturity in the writing. I can still definitely find areas in the posts that require re-writing or better synthesizing, but for the posts primarily being composed as a stream of consciousness, I’m pleased with myself. My first posts on My Antonia were difficult to write. I didn’t know where to begin. Now, I’m much better at immediately expressing my thoughts on any given text.
If I am to select a post which I think is my best, I would have to go with my post ‘Daddy Issues.’ Granted, I’ve read the poem many times–it’s one of my favorites–and I’ve written a literary analysis on ‘Daddy’. This certainly placed a part in why the post came together so nicely. Regardless, I still find it to be an impressive piece of writing for a simple blog post. Overall, my skills as a writer have substantially improved this semester, and I think a large portion of gratitude is owed to the Commonplace Book assignment. Perhaps one of the most vital parts of becoming a good writer is writing– continuously, constantly, always. Even if it sucks. And from a very young age, I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve always had a very distinctive ‘voice.’ I know I have a long road of improvement ahead of me; the only way which I’ll be able to manipulate my ‘voice’ into something coherent and aesthetically pleasing is if I constantly force myself to write something. It’s a rather painstaking process. Nonetheless, the ability to look back on this assignments and point out exact moments where I can capture myself becoming a better writer– suddenly the painful process is a distant memory, and all I can recall is satisfaction.
For example, I am very happy with the way my post for Wallace Stevens turned out. I had this weird idea to read his poetry over and over, thus forcing myself into different situations because I thought it would effect how I read his poetry. With the proposal of my plan to my suite mates, my roommates concluded that I had, indeed, finally lost it. They concluded that my soul had finally ascended to the English Gods. I was no longer with them. When I stuck my head out of my friend Lauren’s car and read the lines from Sunday Morning,”Death is the mother of beauty, mystical, / Within whose burning bosom we devise / Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.” I only confirmed their hypothesis that English majors are pretentious nut jobs. Not to say they aren’t right (because they totally are) but I was right, too. Poetry is awesome, especially when you stick your head out of a car window and read lines about the doubting of religion. Questioning one’s faith, feeling guilty– that’s deep stuff. And to read about it with the wind blowing past my ears and my roommate yelling at me that I’m a nerd… that’s deep stuff, too. It may be ridiculous. It probably is. But it’s still important. It still means something.
If this assignment has taught me anything, it has reminded me of the importance of self-reflection. Only through writing my initial thoughts on each text before coming to class was I able to gauge how I actually behave as a reader. I fear I often fall prey to adapting the “english major-y” perspective over my first organic interpretations. While I do think it’s good that my perspective of texts shifts post-class discussion, I would love to improve my reading skills by being able to combine both my academic and organic readings into something entirely unique. Books have the incredible ability to alter and change our perspective, and I think I owe it to myself to keep a better track of how they are effecting my own. Also, I feel the act of journaling about my English courses will help me exponentially in remembering class content. As I move further into my English studies, I may be affronted with a situation where I am enrolled in 3 or 4 English classes. For the sake of my sanity, I will need to write about each text I read, or I’ll end up forgetting everything.
I’m gonna end my final reflection with one of my favorite songs by my favorite band. I saw The Decemberists earlier this month, and I feel this song from their newest album captures the nostalgia I’ll inevitably feel for the month of May in a few months.