Writing, dinner, and how they are related

Writing and I have a complicated relationship. There are days when we understand each other and days where nothing goes right and we become a pair of confused fools on the speeding train of an essay that does not have a destination. I have come to learn that I personally write much better when I enjoy the topic, as opposed to when I have to write about something I have no interest in. For me, going into an essay is like going into a blind date. Going on a blind date, one does not know what to expect because they do not know the other person at all. However, it becomes clear throughout the dinner date, whether or not there could be a potential connection there and whether or not the two parties want to continue seeing each other. Being assigned an essay, I never know what topic I will be writing my essay on, but when the topic is appealing to me, I find it much easier to think of ideas and formulate a strong argument. However, when I am assigned a topic that I think is mundane and confusing, it takes me a while to even find a thesis, let alone reasoning and support. Sometimes there is a connection between writing and I want that second date. However, at other times, I am asking for the check and running for the door.

A dinner date typically starts off with an appetizer and formal introductions. Typically, after the appetizer and talking for a bit, a person has gotten a first impression and can tell whether or not they are interested in their date. The appetizer of my writing process is receiving the topic and accompanying text. When my blind date with writing starts off well, I miraculously receive an essay topic I can be passionate about, which does not happen too often. However, as good as the topic is, the text(s) accompanying it have to also spark my interest. This is a crucial part of a blind date. If, as I am further getting to know my date over appetizers, I am not interested in anything they are saying or have anything in common with them, I am going to be skeptical of the relationship working out. Just like a date, if the text is not engaging for me, I have a hard time writing about it and when I try to, it does not go well. For example, when I received the directed self-placement essay this past summer, the topic was basic enough: to determine whether or not David Dunning presented a strong argument throughout his article, We Are All Confident Idiots, which highlights the phenomenon of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Simply put, this effect is witnessed all over the world amongst many different people and it is the bias of false superiority in a domain one is not skilled in, which Dunning states we all fall prey to. The directed self-placement writing exam asked students to read the article and use explanations complemented with evidence through a persuasive essay to show whether or not Dunning’s argument was convincing. The article started off well because Dunning drew me in with his popular example of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, a show I happen to like. However, it was as if he kept going on and on and became hard to follow, which is never a good sign at the beginning of a date.

Getting to the main course, I have already gotten some general information on my date, but I need more background details on their life and goals in order to get to know them better. This part of the date is equivalent to gathering evidence to support my ideas throughout an essay and stringing those ideas together coherently because it is like an analyzation of the text and further understanding of it. However, it is difficult trying to find strong evidence for ideas based on uninteresting text. Evidence is an essential aspect of a good essay and helps focus on specific parts of the text to extract information that will convince the readers of your claims. A blind date is like a chain reaction; if it starts off well, it tends to continue to be well and both parties enjoy the evening. If it starts off badly, the mood can be ruined and the night ends with the two people going their separate ways. When the appetizer part of my essay does not go well, the main course suffers, as well.

On to the most important part of the meal: the dessert. Being the last meal of the night, it is the determining factor for whether or not I will be asking for a second date. This is the part I will go home thinking about and remember the most. This section of an essay is of utmost importance because it is the finale, the “so what.” I spend the whole essay relating ideas to my central claim, but I have to end it with an explanation of why what I am saying matters. Basically, after trying to convince the readers that I am right about my view, I must tell them why I am right. When I cannot convince them, what I say does not matter at all, therefore the most important part of the meal is not enjoyed and the night ends on an incomplete note.

Despite many rough essay blind dates in the past, there have also been some very successful ones. As with real dates and life in general, I have learned an extremely valuable lesson when it comes to writing. It is imperative that one approaches the assignment with an open mind. I have looked at prompts and texts before and judged the assignments based on my assumptions of them being tough to complete. This often leads to stress and anxiety about doing the assignment. Just like anything in life, if one goes into it with a negative mindset and thinking that it will be awful, it will be due to their negative attitude about it. I am still working to overcome making assumptions and hopefully, in the future, I will be able to pleasantly get through the appetizer, main course, and dessert of a blind date with writing.

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