Reflection is Hard. Putting out Honest Writing is Harder.

I actually really enjoy reflection. In fact, I am constantly reflecting on my personal life – whether that is either a symptom of my extremely high anxiety or because I am seeking to grow from my past thoughts and experiences is up for debate. I do find it more difficult to reflect on coursework while I am in the class. Which is the reason why I think getting started on this reflection paper has been so hard for me. I usually like some time and distance from whatever I reflect upon. For example, just this morning I was thinking about certain events in my childhood that lead to the often conflicting relationship I have with one of my siblings because I had visited with them over the past weekend. I drew some new paths of understanding and came to some conclusions, which was great, but I took me several years before I could realize the connections between the events and our present-day relationship. Then when it comes to thinking about this class, the connections are less clear and the conclusions are less apparent. It has taken me several weeks to sift through the work that I have done for this class to actually decide on a path or note or topic that I wanted to reflect on further. After I had reread my midterm essay a third or fourth time, I had realized that I had a topic that I wanted to expand upon more – and I had a little bit later in a blog post. I saw that I had gotten carried away with the idea of justice in the Broken Earth series.

I had gone off on a tangent in my midterm essay about purpose and justice in the Stillness. I had even stated in the essay that, “There is more that I want to say on this, but it is beginning to become a topic separate from this essay” in the middle of the essay. And I know that block quoting takes up a lot of space on a paper, but I think it’s worth putting the tangent in this essay for contextual purposes.

“Because the continent that the people of The Stillness live on is so tumultuous and unsteady and volatile it is imperative that the people create and maintain ways to protect themselves. Orogenes have the power to quell shakes and maintain stability in a region so it would seem like a good idea to use their power to benefit society. However, the cost that the population demands of them is extremely high. Imperial Orogenes are subjected to a brainwashing culture of purposeful, unnatural breeding practices, a rigid power structure that ultimately oppresses them, and imprisonment with a false sense of freedom amongst other unsavory practices. There is so much secrecy surrounding the Fulcrum as an institution and of Orogene ability as a whole. Syenite was fed the idea that node maintainers were just lazy Imperial Orogenes that needed an easy, albeit important, out of the general public job. She only learns later of the true fate of Fulcrum bred and uncontrollable orogenes. As I read the trilogy I thought about the node maintainers before and after Alabaster and Essun used them as buffers for the power of the Obelisk Gate. Most of the node maintainers were Alabaster’s children, did Alabaster have the right to use them as he did, same for Essun later? I tried to compare the killing of Corundum by Syenite to the killing of the node maintainers. In the case of Syenite and Corundum, Syenite was attempting to “save” Coru from ending up like his half siblings in the first place. In the case of Essun and Alabaster it seemed of a more escape from their, the maintainers, imprisonment. “

I think that if I had just deleted everything or most of what I had written up to that point and ran with the tangent, then I would have had a much stronger and more clear paper. When I hit that tangent I had found what I was actually interested in discussing as a topic for my paper, but because of time restraints and my own insecurities, I submitted the paper as is. I found that this — word vomiting and then finding my topic of interest but ignoring it at the time — was a common theme in my writing for this class.

After the midterm, I had [eventually] gotten started on finishing up blog posts (but not actually posting them because ~anxiety~ is a life and grade ruiner). I had decided that for one of the blog posts that I wanted to talk about the title of our course and its implications on the coursework and materials. This lead me back to discussing the relationship between the love and justice aspects of the trilogy. Although because I did not put enough genuine effort into the post, it lacked a bit (a lot) in depth. I think that between my midterm essay and my “Blackness, Love, and Justice” post, I could have had a really good foundation to say what I wanted to: that love and justice have a complicated relationship but will forever be entwined with each other.

Upon reflection of my blog posts, I found that the amount effort and quality of writing that I had produced lacked, albeit being graded as what I would say would be “decent”. I think for the most part I was just trying to get words on the page and not really thinking about it much else. Which is really annoying to me. I could have easily written posts that were genuinely good and would have made similarly solid connections that I was making verbally in class. Instead, I chose to procrastinate and post trash writing for the most part.

My first blog post I think was an okay attempt, I could have split it up into three separate posts for each topic that I discussed. I gave a disproportionate amount of space to one of the topics and skimped around the other two. I think if I gave myself more time and freedom, rather than forcing myself to stick to all three original topics in one post, the post would have been better. My second post I think was even stronger than the first. I had a genuine interest in the topic that I was writing about and I found it actually enjoyable to write. I like looking at secondary characters in novels. I think they’re interesting and drive the blog sometimes more so than the main character — looking at you Alabaster.

Speaking of looking at secondary characters, I think another one of my stronger blog posts was “The Power of Children.” This post was inspired by a conversation that Sabrina Bramwell and I had during a small group meeting in class. I recall us talking about powerful children and their lost potential in the literature that we have encountered, then I remembered Jack Jack from The Incredibles and how he had such unlimited potential, and it all went from there. From the same small group  conversation came my inspiration for “Writing SciFi.” The topic that was supposed to be discussed in class was narration and how it affects a series (or something along those lines).

I think “Writing SciFi” was a decent post, I definitely ended it lazily and could have gone further with it. I think that my fourth post would have tied in really well with “Writing SciFi” and I wish that I would have referenced it to make WS a bit stronger. In my fourth post, “Building Blogs off of What I Find on the Internet,” I was responding to Jemisin’s own blog where she discussed her choice to split Essun/Syenite/Damaya’s story. I had written a response about the narrative choices that Jemisin made and my connection to her characters.

I think that “Building Blogs off of What I Find on the Internet” was one of my most clear posts in what I was experiencing with TFS. However, my best post –by far– was the collaborative group post. I wish that we could have done three of these throughout the semester (one at the beginning, one around midterm time, and one before finals). I think that I would have had a better experience with the blog post and would have been able to make better connections and grow more as a writer. I think it was a missed opportunity to really work with others in the class. I also think that it would have been fun to discuss the collaborative posts in class after posting (I’ve done something similar in undergrad classes and I think the class and the original posters got more out of blogging than just posting alone.)

My weakest posts, by far, were “Making Waves,” “Wildlife in the Stillness,” and “Time is Running Out.” All three posts were rushed, somewhat incoherent, and full of errors. I wish I had spent more time on each of them because they all have some potential to be better. I know that I could have done a better job on them too, so I ultimately let myself down in the end.

I think that reflection is important and even though it was like pulling my own teeth to reflect on this class as I did, I think it was beneficial in the end. It forced me to go back on the work that I knew I did a shoddy job on. It made me realize the potential that I have if I just put an iota of effort into my school work. I hope that in the future if I decide to go back to school to get another degree, that I won’t let my anxiety get to me the way that I did with this paper and most of what I turned in for this class. I also want to work on procrastination as well as getting my personal life more balanced in order to have a better experience in the future. I think that I might just be burned out and completely disenchanted with school and higher education in general and I just need a rusting break from it. I think that in my professional life, because I am doing what I love to do, meeting hard and floating deadlines is a non-issue which gives me hope that I won’t burn out in the teaching profession as so many young teachers do.

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