Morgan Maxwell, in this essay, questions her own beliefs and assumptions about writing, and then applies those same questions to her discipline. She strives to not only understand her writing roles within the financial realm, but the role of writing itself. In other words, she is analyzing a discourse community, or a community that shares certain practices of language, organization, and values of communication. In what way does this type of analysis benefit a community (or multiple communities)? How does writing this type of analysis improve your own writing? What are the differences in the roles you play as a writer, and the roles your writing plays as a stand alone text?
My earliest memory of writing was, no surprise, a school assignment. I vaguely remember an entry I made in my weekly journal in kindergarten. In this specific entry, I decided to explain, in great detail, the story of my parents being arrested at a party the weekend prior. Why is this memory ingrained in my brain? Besides the fact that it is a hilarious story for a 6-year-old to tell, I really think that my kindergarten journal may be the last writing assignment I’ve had in which I could write about anything that I pleased. It is actually very possible that was the last writing assignment that I actually enjoyed. After those beloved journal entries came 14 years of unwanted assigned writing, and I’m sure I will endure more of those dreadful assignments in the three remaining semesters of my college career. It is because of this, the idea that writing for school is “dreadful,” that I am reflecting on my feelings towards writing, while also trying to get a grasp on the role that writing has already played, and will play, throughout my life.
How do I Feel About Writing?
I want to clarify, that above when I mentioned “unwanted assigned writing” I don’t mean to imply that I hate writing. I actually don’t mind the task at all, that is, until I am made to write about something completely out of my realm of interest. For example, in the English class I took last semester, I had to write what seemed like fifty 1000-word essays (it was actually 10) about analytical skills, including discourse communities, framing, citations, etc. I understand the need for this assigned writing, and I get the importance of knowing how to cite, or do research, however, none of these things peak my interest. I didn’t feel I would ever use them again in my life, other than for the research paper in that specific class. However, to prove I do enjoy writing, I have to mention a research paper that I wrote for my AP Language & Composition class in high school. This was an assignment that I had to complete for school, but it was a genuinely fun experience in comparison to the majority of school-related writing that I’ve done. For this specific assignment my teacher provided a list of about 200 novels, each student chose a different book, read it, and wrote a research paper on that book. It was at this point– writing about the book I chose, (In Cold Blood)— that I realized how much better my writing is when I have an interest in the subject.
I think that the reason that my junior year research paper was such a success was because I felt so much freedom when writing. Yes, I was writing a structured paper, but it had so few constraints when it came to what I was able to say, how I was allowed to write, and really just the subject matter in general. Ninety-nine percent of my writing is writing in which I am required to have a word limit, limited subject matter, and it must be structured in a certain style. It is all of these constraints that have deterred me from enjoying writing. I type, read, and re-read my pieces time and time again because I know that every word will be read by a teacher for a grade. That teacher will be reading my writing to search for mistakes, making sure that I met every miniscule requirement, rather than reading it for enjoyment or insight into how I feel about the assigned topic. It is this scrutiny on my writing that makes me think, “Ugghh,” when I am given a writing assignment. Despite the good grades I have always received on my pieces, every new writing task has me wondering, what do I write? Is this sentence structured right? Does my thesis portray the main idea? None of which ever seem to be answered until my piece has been graded and marked on every which way in bright red ink.
Who am I as a “Writer”?
Thinking back to that pivotal research paper, I believe that the writing process was a good experience because the reading that came before it was so enjoyable. I have never considered myself a writer, but I have always considered myself a reader. While reading In Cold Blood eventually led me to writing a research paper, I feel as if my love of reading has actually aided in diminishing the possibility of one day, considering myself a “professional writer.” But why would that be? Why would reading constrain my thoughts or possibilities of being considered a writer? I think that it is because when I think of someone who writes, or uses writing consistently within their profession, all I can think of are authors. I picture Stephen King, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling as writing professionals; which is kind of ironic seeing as how what they are writing is considered fiction, rather than of a professional genre. When I think of writing, I think of authors producing the novels that I enjoy reading, not of the reports I am forced to prepare and analyze at work, or the papers I have to write for school. However, after taking into account what I have learned from this course so far, it seems that all of this could be considered professional writing. Let’s face it, I’m not going to turn into the next best-selling murder/mystery novelist, but creating financial reports, or writing investment portfolios in my future career does require quite a bit of skill in the writing department, if I do say so myself.
As I said, I am a reader. I have many favorite authors, including ones I have listed above. But despite how much I love their work, does any of their writing inspire me? No. This is something that I have never really thought about until now. Why would the novels I devour in a day not inspire me? Before reflecting on my writing, I would tell you that it’s because I’m just not a writer. Now, I will tell you that it is simply because I am not that kind of writer. I don’t think of dramatic stories in my head that I can sit down and write 300 pages about. However, I can sit down and explain to another student, teacher, or customer in words what is going on in today’s financial markets. I can write an entire page on why Apple’s stock value will decrease when they release a new iPhone, but I couldn’t make up a decent paragraph describing the disappearance of a made up character for a mystery novel. It is because of this that I really don’t know who inspires me to write, it’s more of what inspires me to write. I believe that this is the same for the majority of young writers. Yes, we all have our favorite books or authors to read, but their specific style or text may not be what makes us want to write; it’s a concept as a whole that inspires the writing.
How Will I Use Writing in my Field?
As a finance major, I have never really thought about, or expected, doing much writing on the job. I currently work as a teller at US bank, and until really analyzing “what is writing?” throughout this course, I have never considered anything I do at work to be writing. However, I have realized that scripting and sending the perfect email to my boss is definitely considered a form of professional writing. When I send an email at work, I have realized that I do have somewhat of a writing process that I go through. Depending on who the email is intended for, I decide what language to use, the complexity and length of the email, the subject line, and how to close the email. For example, an email to my boss about credit card sales for the week would be short and simple, with a subject of “CC Sales”, and a bulleted list of what every branch employee has achieved throughout the week. On the other hand, an email to a customer would be much more explanatory and personable.
At this point in time, I really do not know exactly where I want to end up within the financial field post-graduation. I have always said that my goal was to become a financial advisor/planner, but as everyone normally does, I have changed my mind time and time again. However, the first of two constants I have recognized: no matter what career I choose, I will be writing. If I become the financial Vice President of Humana, I will be writing planned budgets, actual budgets, and budget cuts. If I somehow end up on Wall Street, I will be writing stock evaluations and making trades. If I follow my “childhood dream” and become a financial advisor, I will be creating detailed investment plans for clients, always ensuring they are able to interpret the numbers. The second constant? Numbers, of course!
Despite not knowing exactly what I will be doing in my financial career, it has been made evident that writing will always be necessary and seems to be necessary in all fields. After reflecting on my writing, I have realized how close-minded I have always been when it comes to writing. I have noticed how many assumptions I formed throughout the years about writing, and I have noticed how wrong most of those assumptions are. Will I now begin to enjoy all of my writing assignments? Probably not. However, I know that from now on I will be bit more proud of everything that I write, whether it’s a research paper or a financial statement. I believe every other student should begin to feel some pride as well; after all, we are all writers these days.