Iris G. Garcia

I feel so small
In this new part
Of my life's walk.

It has been a very busy first semester of college. With a heavy course load, I decided I would try out for a play. I had never been in a play before, and I never realized what kind of commitment I had made until I was too much in it, and behind in schoolwork. My first year seminar is a Cultural Studies class taught by Dr. Bob Marrs, entitled "Walking." This class also requires a great deal of commitment. It has been a great challenge to keep up with. I suppose it is every first-year's excuse, but in high school my papers were accepted as the first, or sometimes second, draft. My teachers knew that I was an intelligent student with high potential (one of the few in my class to attend a four year college, and even fewer to attend a college out of state). Revising was something unheard of, even offensive.

When I began my classes at Coe, it seemed that revising was a given. Every student knew you had to do it, and every professor expected it. Even my Poetry Workshop professor wanted me to revise my poetry somehow. Revising Poetry? My poetry is all I ever had, and no one had ever complained about it, until now. Suddenly I found myself being bombarded by suggestions and by questions when what I was trying to say was not clear enough.

What happens
When you learn
To not be content?
I will not conform
To my own boundaries

I put my vanity aside and decided that I would try this revising thing. I took my paper A Walk on McLoud Run to the Writing Center. I cam e away with a few suggestions to make it clearer, and voila, I was done. Then I had a meeting with Dr. Bob. It turns out that, even though we do not need a thesis in a walking essay, we do need a theme. I didn't really have one. I didn't understand what he was talking about until we went over our Daybook. The Daybook is a collection of essays, prose and poetry dealing with writing and walking. One of the essays we went over was January Thaw, by Aldo Leopold. His essay had a theme because it had something to connect his thoughts, the trail of a skunk. I needed a skunk. I went in to the Writing Center for another conference, and the consultant helped me pick out things that could keep my paper on track, whatever track I may choose. We decided on flowers. I described about seven flowers throughout the course of the essay; they were something that could keep my essay moving inconspicuously, like Leopold's skunk.

I had another conference with Dr. Bob, who could point out more than one theme in my paper. After reading through it again I began to see where I was heading. My paper had a theme now. I would talk about my past and present, what I thought about during my walk. I would lay out the differences between Mexico, Albuquerque, and Cedar Rapids, so that I could see where I am now.

I went back to the Writing Center, and a consultant noticed that when I read my paper our loud, the flowers were not so inconspicuous. They sounded forced, even fake. The consultant knew that I write poetry, so she suggested that I turn the descriptions into poems. "Poems?" I thought, "What freedom!"

It loosens the chains
Around my soul
To let my pen
Drip the ink
Of the images
Within my mind
It is a freewheeling feeling
That of finding beauty
In words

I began to work on my paper again. The entire essay flowed much better with the flower poems, I was proud, but I was also humbled. My essay went through still another revision. I tightened up the language as best I could. I cut things out that were not important to the paper, and added some explanatory details. I could not dare say that it is done. I believe that there will always be something for me to work on, because I will always keep growing.

I am proud of this draft of my McLoud Run essay. This essay has turned out to be one of the biggest projects I have ever worked on; I put so much effort into it. I must admit that Stopped Time is only at its third draft, but it is coming along. I began writing this essay when I was most busy with the play. I am happy with it for now. But I have learned that I must manage my time better.

I have also included some poems with have gone through revisions, something I never thought possible- or necessary! I see now the importance of revision, of help from others, and of having higher expectations of myself.

Everyday I learn
Everyday I am humbled
I grow stronger
My mind grows
My spirit grows
I grow

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