Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole of Writing: A Survivor's Tale

It’s hard to exactly pinpoint when the idea for this final paper really began. In some ways, it’s been building throughout this entire semester, becoming refined in each of the smaller papers we have written on Alice in Wonderland. From talking with Professor Burton in the paper conferences we've had after each one, I did start this paper with the intent of talking about existential meaning in some way. But I think the real beginning came as I went back to one of my favorite books, The Count of Monte Cristo and wrote about why I love it so much. I think a lot of times, being English majors, we forget this important detail as we get so focused in getting an essay done—that we love books. In this whole process, the only thing that kept me from despairing over my attempt to compare Alice in Wonderland to The Count of Monte Cristo was the constant reminder of why I love the book: because of its fascinating ending.

My initial thesis was a bit of a flop. I was trying so hard to make the theme of existential meaning work (from my second paper) that I didn't really see my texts. I also really wanted to talk about Alice. I posted it on facebook (which was new for me!) and our blog- and got little interest besides a comment which made me wake up and realize my lack of attention to the texts. Also, Tori and Kimberlee helped me see that I was trying to write two separate papers, rather than just one with its set up. So I went back to the Count of Monte Cristo and came up with a new question about the extent of God’s action in Edmond Dantes life and posted it on Goodreads. I actually got some great feedback and used one of the reviewers' answers in my final paper.Their answers to my question made me excited about the book again, and helped me explore other ideas, and from this crazy, colorful web of ideas, I found a much better thesis! I decided to compare The Queen of Hearts and Edmond Dantes, which ended up being a fun and interesting comparison.
The wonderful comment incorporated into my final draft
paper (which was super new!) Their answers to my question made me excited about the book again, and helped me explore other ideas,

As I started writing it, I hit some issues. Mainly, because of the fact that I had always avoided the structure of a Comparison/Contrast claim and now struggled to figure out how to write it so it flows rather than becomes a tug of war between the two texts. Jose gave me some really good advice: he said that I needed to use the same tone and make the texts dependent on each other.

I started researching and found an amazing source that talked about God and 19th Century French society. This source basically saved my paper on so many levels. It backed me up on a hunch I had about instability in France relating 19th century French encyclopedia in English, but Tori encouraged me to try the chat with a librarian app on BYU’s Library page, and I eventually I tracked one down!
to religion, and helped me make a direct connection to society and religion in France. I could not find a 19

By the time we wrote our little small paper and did a peer review in class, I had hit another snag—reluctance.  I had researched and focused so much on the historical background of both England and France in the 19th century, that once again, I lost track of the texts and my love for them, and began to really despise the essay. In talking with Tori in class, her encouragement and thoughts about how to get out of the historical hole I was in got me start to climb out of it.

When it came to finishing it up and actually writing a final copy, it was stressful and frustrating as always (not going to lie), but this time I had more confidence and assurance that I could produce something great. And, in the end, I think I did. You can check out my final paper here: The Delusion of Power. Let me know what you think!
What I learned from this experience:

-Remember why you love the text, don’t let the research or other little aspects of writing overshadow that fact.  

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