Essay #1-Narration/Definition/Process Analysis

“Why do we write?”

Here’s one answer:

Why we Write

And another

Why we Write

And here’s J. Ivy’s take on needing to write

I Need to Write
By J. Ivy

I need to write
I need to sit my black, narrow ass down and write
Yeah, the hustle got me hustlin’ but
I must live myself out a time for me well
“What about me?” I ask
“What about the stories that I need to tell?”
I need to write

Cause can’t nobody do it for me
Can’t nobody document my inspirations the way I can
Can’t nobody compliment my aspirations the way I can
Only I can, Only I can, Only I can
So, I need to write

I need to gather up some words and write
I need to gather up some thoughts and write
I need to write
Cause I’m tired of the same old pieces
I know yall tired of hearing the same old pieces
Cause the same old pieces got the same old problems

But I got new problems, more problems,
Problems that change, problems that rearrange
This homeless cat asked me for some money
But got mad when at me cause I aint got no spare change
I need to write

Me & my girl been arguing
I need to write
My boy told me that we need to take it to the next level
So I need to write

My pops died and it’s hard dealin with it
I need to write
I know yall can’t wait for the book
I need to write

I need to write
I need to write

They done stole my hooptie?
I need to write
The cops said I fit the description
I need to write

Wait, wait, hold on, hold on
You mean to tell me my wallet look like a gun?
I need to write
My lil brother got mugged by some grown thug
I need to write

You talkin bout me behind my back?
I need to write
I aint got it no more
I need to write

My ex tried to fuck my boy
I need to write
The weather been actin awfully funny
I need to write

It’s time to take Jesus off that cross
I need to write
Cops killin brothers
Cops killin sisters
Free Mama Mia
I need to write

Wait, wait, wait
You gone kick off WWIII
And possibly drive me?
I need to write
Oh so I’m gay cause I don’t wanna fuck you?

I need to write
They was takin good care of little Freeman boy
But what about the shorties in the projects?
I need to write

You sayin I’m bogus cause I didn’t come to your event cause I was tired?
I need to write
I distinctly remembered askin for 6 wings with mild sauce
Why does this shit only have 4?

I need to write
I think about writin third person cause the first is hurt
Life is a job and the birds is workin
My soul is rehearsin for when the lord pulls the curtain
Words are words but maybe it’s your actions that’s doin the cursin
I need to write

Just yesterday, it was illegal for me to write
Where my pen at?
I need to write

Read Ralph Ellison’s “Living with Music,”  page 167-176 and be prepared to discuss on Friday.

Some things to help:

Swing Era-swing was the popular music from the early 30’s to the 50’s.  Here’ a piece by Benny Goodman and a piece by Count Basie. In case you want to get involved and learn to swing.

And he directly references this song:  Louis Armstrong.  Or a more modern version from Dan Auerbach (producer).

 Tania Delgadillo’s Drop-In Tutoring Hours

M 10-11 @ CEP, 12-2 @ CASAS, 3-5 @Zimmerman

T        5-7@CASAS

W 10-11 @ CEP, 12-2 @ Zimmerman, 3-5 @ CASAS

F 10-11@ CEP, 12-2 @ CASAS, 3-4:30 @ Zimmerman


In your small groups, deconstruct this essay.

This group work is doing a few different things:  A) getting you comfortable with looking at essays critically, B) teaching you the necessary skills for looking at your own essays, and C) beginning to look at how we function as a group of writers helping each other improve our own writing.   So, in your group, make sure one person is prepared to discuss this essay to the whole class based on your discussion.  You might want to have one person take notes about your discussion.

Here’s some guiding questions.

Using the definition from  The Longman Reader, “Generally expressed in one or two sentences, a thesis statement often has two parts.  One part presents the limited subject; the other gives your point of view, or attitude about that subject” (29).

1) What’s the thesis?

2) If you were going to break this essay down into parts (almost outline it) what would that look like?

3) What are the words (phrases, sentences, etc.) he uses to get from one section to another.   Does the essay have one main subject?  If so, what is it?

4) Why did the author choose to list so many specific musicians, songs, etc.?   What effect does the specific details have on the reader?

5) Do you have any similar experiences where someone’s else’s music intrudes upon your world unexpectedly?  How did you react?


In  your group decide who reads what of the following (if you have 4 people in your group, two people will read the Zinsser piece):

1) Read Tim Folger’s “Waves of Destruction,” from from The Longman Reader (pages 295-299)-Process Analysis

2) Read Caroline Rego’s “The Fine Art of Complaining,” from The Longman Reader (pages 327-330)-Process Analysis

3) Read William Zinsser’s “College Pressures,” from The Longman Reader (257-264)-Division/Classification (Definition)

4) Read Audre Lord’s “The Fourth of July,” from The Longman Reader (pages 126-143)-Narration.

Each person will answer the following about their essay:

1) What’s the thesis?

2) Write a no more than 1 page summary of the essay.



Description:  Pg 111 of The Longman Reader

Narration:  Pg. 154 of The Longman Reader

Process Analysis:  Pg 314 of The Longman Reader

Definition:  Pg. 461 of The Longman Reader

Know these four terms:

Discourse Community-A discourse community’ is a group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as basic values and assumptions, and ways of communicating about those goals. Linguist, John Swales defined discourse communities as “groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals” (Wikipedia).  For the context of this class, we are talking about your friends being one “discourse community” and perhaps people in the same class or in church or at work being in another “discourse community.”

Code Switching-“In linguistics, code-switching is switching between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation” (Wikipedia).  For the context of this class, we are using it more informally as the inate ability to know that certain language, words, etc. is okay in one context but not another.   Thus, you don’t talk the same way with your friends as you do with your grandmother (generally).

Rhetorical Situation-“…any set of circumstances that involves at least one person using some sort of communication to modify the perspective of at least one other person” (   For the context of this class, we are looking at each essay being its own “Rhetorical Situation.”

Genre Conventions-“…genre conventions are the defining aspects of any genre or sub-genre” (Wisegeek).   The types of essays below each come with their own set of Genre conventions.

In Class Extended Writing Prompt:

The Zombie Apocalypse has happened.   The cities are overrun.  What few survivors remain either chose to band together in bloodthirsty gangs or, like you, survive by holing up in houses and moving on when necessary.   Today, you are alone in a house, a horde of zombies patrols the road nearby.  Your child is asleep as the light from your lamp flickers and reflects off the shiny axe you keep on the nightstand.  You are warm, safe for the first time in a long time, and feeling reflective.   Being awake, you write a letter to your child (who is merely an infant) to explain to him or her of a happier time.   A time, when you went to college everyday.   What is college and what is being a college student?

Remember by the time he/she is old enough to read, all colleges (as you know them) will have been wiped out long ago.

What is the format of a letter?

500 words.


What’s the point?

What effective ways is that demonstrated?

Who’s the audience?

How do you know?

Who are you writing this for?

Brief Discussion about Audience/Purpose.

Here’s a good on-line resource to help with the revision/editing process.

Purdue On-line Writing Lab (OWL).

Essay #1 Due 2/6/14

750 Words, Word Document, Default Font, Double Space.

E-mailed to me as an Attachement.

Subject (of e-mail):  Essay 1

The file (that you attached) should be named in this fashion:

[LastNameFirstName]Essay1 thus (for example) McIverDonEssay1.docx

Pre-writing strategies:

Outline, Mind Map, Free Write


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