Another Year in the Books

As freshman year comes to a close, I realize all the growth and learning I’ve done over the last school year. From the fear of being away from home to being academically challenged, I feel I have grown a lot this year. College gives you not only a different view of life itself but also school work and pushing yourself to your limits. My English class has specifically challenged me to look deeper into not only my school work but all my assignments and their importance. Through all the articles we have read and discussed as well as the peer editing exercises we have done with our classmates I have learned how to be a better writer as well as how to better understand others writings. There have been many articles that have had an impact on me either academically or emotionally and have changed my view of many things. Also, studying different types of writings has helped me to look deeper into the true meaning behind types of writing and their purpose. From studying the film, The Blind Side, which had taught me to look deeper into the meaning of the writing style, to reading Zadie Smith’s, Swing Time,which helped me to better understand writings about someone’s story. There have been many types of writing that have furthered my understanding of literature.

As a college student, reading a book that is on a fifth grade reading level is very unusual but refreshing. By reading Robert Beatty’s, Serafina and the Black Cloak, I learned how to look deeper into a children’s book and better understand it as a young adult. This is a skill I never thought would be useful but I have found that it has made me a better reader and writer because I now try to appeal to all audiences. This is just one example of how the readings I have read over the past semester have positively influenced my writing abilities. Which has improved a lot after my first year. Also, as I mentioned earlier, reading Swing Timeby Zadie Smith also helped me improve my writing. While reading this novel I was challenged to understand a different type of writing, this made me view writing in a different way. Teaching ways to make my writing easy for all audiences to understand, kind of like Beatty did. Smith writes in a distinct style that can at times be difficult to understand but also gives readers a different point of view.

As a first year student it can be difficult to learn how to properly format a formal paper to your professors liking. This was a big change for me, learning how to properly format my papers in a professional way that my professors would like. By reading my classmates work as well as my professors, I quickly saw the way a paper should be formatted and made corrections to the way I was doing this. This is a very important skill to learn as a first year student because this skill will not only be used for the rest of your college career but may even be used for a career after college. By reading my classmates papers I learned not only the proper way to format a paper but also that a paper can always be edited and fresh eyes do it best. As C.J. Cherryh once said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage-as long as you edit brilliantly.” This quote is so true and I have seen the importance of editing a paper even if it sometimes can be discouraging to have others read your work.

Another valuable skill I have learned is how to turn away from technology and writing my drafts by hand. Today everything is done from a computer, it is rare that we sit down and write our thoughts or drafts on paper. This is an aspect that is important in life that has been slowly withering away for most young writers. As Christian Lous Lange said, “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous servant.” I personally forgot how easy it was to start my writing freehand then editing that by typing it. I will continue to use this skill throughout the rest of my college career to help perfect my writing as well as separate myself from technology for a small amount of time.  IMG_5934

Just like writing freehand is something that isn’t done very often anymore, writing letters isn’t either. Having to write a letter to someone once a month was something I have never done before and was a learning experience. This assignment made me not only practice writing personal letters but it also gave me the chance to write meaningful letter to my family members that meant a lot to them. With technology it is so easy to just send a text and tell someone you love them or appreciate the things they do for me but realistically it is more meaningful when something like that is said in person or written. I will always remember this and make an effort to write letter more often to remind myself to not rely on technology so much.

Overall, I have learned so many valuable skills this year that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This class has defiantly prepared me for the next three years of school and has helped me to improve my writing in many ways. I will not only continue to push myself to write out of my comfort zone but also read books and articles that are out of my comfort zone to help myself to better understand other types of writings and improve my own.



Works Cited


Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. Disney/Hyperion, 2015.


Bettelheim, Bruno. Introduction: The Struggle for Meaning.” The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Random, 1976. pp. 3-19.


Lane. Anthony. “Reality Hunger,” Review of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielburg and Lean on Pete, directed by Andrew Haigh. The New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2018, pp. 80-81.


Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Chapter One Excerpt. Norton, 2006. Pp. 15-16.


Makant, Jordan. Thought Twice; It’s Not Alright. Impossible Angles. Main Street Rag, 2017. 18.


Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. Penguin Books, 2017.




Annotated Bibliography



In Robert Beatty’s, Serafina and the Black Cloak, the aspect of adult fiction is heavily used. The author makes this piece easy for children, young adults, and adults to enjoy reading while making it equally easy for all audiences to understand. This is why this book is well-known by many different audiences. Overall, Beatty has a talent for making his writing appealing to all audiences.


In Bruno Bettelheim’s work that includes,The Struggle for Meaningand The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, the writer discusses the balance between raising a child in today’s world and making them prepared for this life but also keeping their playful mind’s alive. This can be challenging for most because we as parents want our children to be prepared for today’s world and the mess that comes with it, but keeping our minds creative and playful is still needed at every age. This writing discusses how we can keep the fairytale aspect alive in their minds, as well as ours, while still being ready for the “real world.”



In Anthony Lane’s article, Reality Hunger which features both, Ready Player One andLean on Pete, Lane discusses the work of Steven Spielberg and his success as a director. Some of his works are broken down and heavily discussed. This article shows readers the great work that Spielberg has made and makes readers want to view more of his work.



In Michael Lewis’s, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, the first chapter of the book as well as the first scene of the movie is displayed and explained. For those of us who have seen this film, it is well-known that this scene is read by actress Sandra Bullock who plays the Mom in this film. I personally could hear her voice reading this because it is so powerful when heard. This passage makes readers think about not only a sport but also life. This excerpt gives readers a taste of the film/book.


In Jordan Makants, Thought Twice; it’s Not Alright, Bob Dylan’s song, Don’t think Twice, It’s All Right, is viewed from a poetic aspect. Makant uses only a few words to dive deeper into the true meaning behind the song. He examines the true meaning of the words used in the song by breaking down the main idea of the song and giving readers a better understanding of the meaning. Makant explains that love makes us do things that we may not normally do, for example, Dylan states its all alright but listeners know this is not the case, he just loves her so much that he will let her go. This is explained in a short poem composed of clever wording and realizations.


In Zadie Smith’s, Swing Time, Smith writes about a character’s childhood and young adult life. Taking readers through the life of the young girl and viewing it through her eyes. This novel gives reader an inside view of the lives young children live and the transitions they go through in their lives. While sharing the good and bad times, Smith takes readers through it all through the eyes of the main character. This novel overall is both funny and serious and keeps readers interested and curious.





Everything is Not What it Swings


In the novel, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, the narrator walks us through the majority of her young life. She educates the audience on not only important figures in her life but also realizations she’s come to since getting older. We are shown both the good and the bad aspects of her life, the narrator makes the readers feel as if they know her or have even lived her life. Throughout the book the narrator keeps readers entertained while leaving us curiousfor me after each page.

As I mentioned earlier, the narrator comes to many realizations while telling her story. She sees that everything is not as it seems as a child and discovers there are “shadows” in everyone’s lives that aren’t commonly known or discussed. They are more likely to be kept hidden from the public eye, but when these demons are released, there is a price to pay.unnamed

In this novel, Smith brings special attention to the hidden personal issues of the characters as well as the innocence of the oblivious mind of a child. Throughout the course of this story the narrator comes to many conclusions about questionable things that she witnesses or happened to her personally. For example, the narrator shows her curiosity about her friend’s Father start to grow when she notices her behavior while she’s around her father, to the point she even senses a sexual tension between the two. In this moment the narrator begins to notice the hostile relationship Tracey has with her Father. This shows the audience since growing older and wiser the narrator starts to notice more of the “shadows” that were once hidden from her as a child. Another great example of this is the letter Tracey sends the narrator concerning her father. At one time in her life she may have believed Tracey’s lies but since growing distant from her and facing the reality of her once friends true-self, she sees right through her lies. In the novel the narrator states,

In her version she walked round the back of my father’s flat, stood in the small gravel courtyard, and then, because the kitchen seemed to be locked, took two steps to the left and brought her nose right up to the back window, to my father’s window, the one in which I slept, cupped her hands upon the glass and looked in. There she saw my father, naked, on top of something, moving up and down, and at first she naturally thought it was a woman, and if it had been a woman, or so she assured me, the she never would have mentioned it, it was none of her business or mine, but the fact was it was not a woman at all, it was a doll, human sized but inflated, and of very dark complexion like a- ‘golliwog’ (Smith 349-350).

This is just another way the writer shows the audience the growth, maturity and new point of view the narrator has gained and she is finally seeing the reality of her childhood and her life today.

As you can see, the shadows of Tracey’s life are brought to light as the narrator becomes wiser. As children we as humans trust most everyone and believe there is no evil in this world but as we grow older we are forced to face reality which brings us to the conclusion that everything is not always what it seems.




Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin 2017.

a blog

about me


Hello everyone! My name is Riley Farmer, I am 20 years old, from Lenoir North Carolina, and a Freshman at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I am a Criminal Justice major with a minor in Psychology. Now that you know all the basic boring class info, let’s dig a little deeper.

I have many hobbies and interest, some just like those my age and others that make me different. Like normal 20 year olds I enjoy working out, sleeping as much as possible and spending time with my friends. But then theres more important hobbies that make me who I really am. I enjoy reading poetry, listening to alternative music, singing, and photography. Your typical “hipster” you could say. I make an effort everyday to do three things. Smile, laugh and be moved to tears. I once saw this in a famous speech given by a cancer patient. This has always stuck with me and I hope to continue to do this everyday until i’m no longer here. You see, by smiling and laughing you are bringing not only yourself joy but others as well. And lastly, being moved to tears, this one is the most important in my eyes. By being moved to tears you are exploring your emotions and becoming comfortable with them. It may seem simple but it’s a very important part of life, the older I’ve gotten the more I see the importance. Stay tuned to see what else you may find out about me.




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