Writing To Remember And Reflect

10/19 When I write a paper, I inevitably make it personal. I put myself into it and I write well. I'm paranoid when people criticize it because they tell me to make it more impersonal—to take me out of it. I'm afraid I can't write unless I am in the paper somehow. ... I guess I feel defensive because this paper has so much of me in it that I'm just laying myself open to all kinds of attacks, and I'm scared to read it to someone. I want to take it to [my teacher] tomorrow and ask him what he thinks. . . . What I want badly is for him to say it is a really good paper—but I won't believe him. I think it's good. But if he's looking for an analytical paper I may as well forget it. . . . If someone says I should rewrite it, make it less informal, I'd die inside and give up.

Essays of both personal experience and reflection draw more on a writer's inner reserves than on outer resources. When you write from memory, your problem is not so much locating material in a library or laboratory as in retrieving what you already know and presenting it clearly to someone else.

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