Whenever I think about my experience in English 101, I am reminded of a certain quote. Joseph Heller, the author of the 1961 novel Catch-2, once said that “every writer I know has trouble writing” (Heller, 1961). It was not until I took English 101 that I began to understand what that line meant. It was not that I had trouble writing; it simply did not interest me. I did not think I had much interest to say, nor did I know of any intelligent ways of doing so. However, English 101 showed me that I was capable of writing and gave me the tools I needed to do so. I learned a lot in this class. For example, I learned that I needed to cite the direct quote I started the paragraph with. There were many things that I did not know when I entered the class, as well as several misconceptions that were quickly corrected. In the end, however, the English 101 course made a small but significant difference in my life.
I had a number of preconceived notions about writing when I initially entered the English 101 classroom. First, I thought I would hate research essays due to how much time they take up. Second, I considered reader response essays to be the easiest and fastest essays to write. Finally, I was convinced that I would hate writing speeches. Of these, I was right about only one – I did, in fact, hate writing speeches. The persuasive essay assignment was the most difficult one to write, not because the subject was boring but because I struggled with maintaining a formal tone while working on it. This was an issue I battled with frequently. I was doing so even as I wrote this reflection. Yet there was a certain triumph when I finished the persuasive essay and handed it in that stayed with me for a long time. I hated writing that speech, but I was proud of myself for doing so. That was the kind of feeling that even my most hated assignments inspired in me.
The other two assumptions – that I would hate research essays and that response essays were the easiest to write – were quickly proven incorrect. Admittedly, I put off working on the research essay; however, when I did start working on it, I found that I enjoyed doing research. It helped that I picked a topic I had a connection with, but it was the process that I enjoyed the most. English 101 provided me with the tools I needed to do the research properly. I knew which sites could be trusted and which would have to be put aside as non-credible. These skills helped me later on in the semester when I had to research topics for other classes and also for personal interest. In the end, this assignment became my favorite. On the other hand, response essays proved to be more difficult than I had thought possible. It seemed very simple in theory: the assignment was to read and respond to a book. However, in practice, it took not just reading but also understanding and thinking about the text in order to do the essay correctly. I had to re-read the work several times in order to find a topic for discussion. For several night after handing in that assignment, I dreamt of the book chasing me in an attempt to eat me. This was undoubtedly dramatic, but I believe it illustrates the way writing became more than just an assignment for me.
Becoming attached to my work was what I was expecting, least of all. The time I spent on each of them turned them into a part of myself. Some were frustrating, and some were enjoyable, but each showed me something about myself that I did not know before. Therefore, I decided I want to continue writing – not just as part of a class, but for myself. This is the greatest impact that English 101 made on me, and I am glad that I took this class.