The Power of the Pen

In the words of Bartholomae and Petrosky, putting together your thoughts on a reading “requires that you work on what you have read, and that work best takes shape when you sit down to write.” So here I am, sitting down to write and preparing for the act of writing to complete my reading.

As I read the excerpts from Words and Images, I found myself repeatedly distracted by two thoughts: These concepts are nothing new to me, and the authors are acting like they’re life shaking revelations and Woah, I’m a student reading about students reading! I became very aware of my self as I read– the way I couldn’t remember everything, couldn’t hold all of the concepts in my mind at once. I felt like Lyra from the Golden Compass, as she sat down to try to read the Alethiometer for the first time. And if you don’t get that allusion, that’s okay, just as it was okay that I couldn’t keep all the material in my brain. According to Bartholomae and Petrosky, it isn’t necessary to pick up on all the allusions. A strong reader can fill in the gaps.

While these concepts may not have been new, it was the first time they were acknowledged in a text I was reading; I was pleasantly surprised to find myself aware of my reading skills and lack thereof, although the feeling was distracting at times (for example, I focused on how I had no idea what I thought about the reading instead of the words in front of me, which made it even harder to take in the material).

As to the familiarity of the various ideas presented– during AP Literature my senior year, I found that often I didn’t understand the material until I wrote about it. This understanding could take place while I was taking down analytical notes to support an essay in the making, or even after I had entered into the final draft of an essay. It is a familiar sensation to come out of a reading feeling muddled and then clarify those feelings by puzzling it out on paper. And my teachers encouraged that route of understanding by assigning reading responses and journal entries that were meant to follow up the reading.

Even now, as I work on my first blog I can sense the change that having those concepts printed in text before me has made to my thinking and writing. It is one thing to sense a phenomenon; another thing to have it stated as fact in the solid bulk of print before you.

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