Author: Brian Lange

Smells Like Teen Apathy

First question: Is it good? Second question: Do I care? I have always been a champion of the path of least resistance, call me lazy but I prefer to not do any frivolous work (we’ve all had enough busy work in high school to last lifetimes). Like most everything else, I always consider the opportunity costs of the time and effort required for revision, although this doesn’t mean that I will never revise my work. If I am submitting an important document, like a cover letter or writing sample, I will make certain that I run spell check multiple times and read over the piece at least three runs through to make sure the words come together smoothly. Strangely enough, for hyper-important documents like my personal statement for the Common Application I find that printing out the document increases the accuracy of my revision. For some reason, my eyes miss more errors when the writing is on a screen, maybe because of the eye strain that pixelated, colored displays tend to cause. Maybe that is also the reason for why I can almost never bring myself to re-read texts before I send them.

Nevertheless, the infrequent yet intensive revision that I engage in is not nearly enough, since for most pieces I write I only run a rudimentary spell-check and cursory skim of the text for glaring errors. The rationale I often create for myself is that, probability-wise, I most likely didn’t make enough errors to truly impede understanding or lose more than a few points. Given my status as a freshman at an institution of higher learning being forced to take certain general education classes, I don’t think that it’s very surprising that I am so aloof, but once I clear the lower level requirements for my core classes I believe that I will be able to better motivate myself.

I Usually Don’t Have a Pen on me…

In truth, I rarely annotate pieces of literature, mainly because I focus my attention towards comprehension of stylistic elements and perceived author’s intent. However, I do annotate other pieces of writing occasionally, particularly when I am reading to keep myself informed. Sometimes, when I find a sentence or phrase that resonates with me in a newspaper, I underline or highlight that part of the passage, sometimes topping it off with a few words in the margin to help jog my memory as to why this sentence/phrase was so significant. I do admit that this practice helps me retain the information, probably because it converts my initial reactions in reading into written words, making them invulnerable from the oblivion that is a busy teenager’s short term memory. Additionally, I appreciate pieces that already have writing in the margins, primarily because it provides a commentary on the writing that emulates the type of interaction and analysis that two friends reading a book together would have (if the annotation is done well, that is).

Nothing is quite like some hastily scrawled, broken sentences in blue ink. And while such writing is more common for my notes in classes, those two worlds sometimes connect, such as in my Creative Writing class, which requires me to make notes on my observations and thoughts as they relate to the current device or method that was being studied. In doing this, I annotate pieces of writing like poetry. Granted, it sounds lazy to claim that I only annotate when I am forced to in school, but when I read for pleasure I honestly don’t feel an urge to annotate. Maybe it was because of my ignorance of the uses of annotation for much of my childhood, but for one reason or another I would rather focus on digesting the content as I experience it directly, rather than sequestering a part of my analysis onto paper for another time. Furthermore, I find that annotations can easily become an interruption, especially when the piece can be interpreted widely and a certain thought written down may inhibit a scholar who might be trying to read a piece in a different perspective. Taking in the material as my eyes convert what the text means is pure and effective, and that is simply how I feel.