Thoughts on Writing My First Oxford Essay

Originally posted October 11, 2011.

As I sit in the cozy Hertford library this morning, I have to take a break from preparing for my first Oxford essay.  I’m having so much fun with it and when I think about it, that’s a very odd statement to make.  For one thing, most people don’t take any enjoyment in school assignments, but let’s lay that issue aside.  I love school, I always have, and if that makes this weird, it’s another issue entirely.

I was thinking about the actual writing process.  It’s a constant struggle.  As you read, you come up with all of these great thoughts and observations about what you’re reading.  And yet when you go to write them down, they don’t stream out of your head easily.  Instead, you end up grasping at different phrases, mixing them around and then deleting half of what you’ve typed only to re-type it in a slightly different order in the next minute.  Somehow, at the end of six or seven hours, you come up with five or so pages of relatively coherent argument that you print off and uneasily hand in to the professor (or tutor) and wish that you could still revise.  Or at least that’s what happens to me.  As one of my teachers at writing camp said, “Writing is a battle against the empty page.”

All of this is fine, but I usually don’t like conflict.  The closest I’ve ever been to fighting is choreographed stage fighting and I usually avoid verbal sparring; I prefer the term “discussion” and usually even then I back down if the other side just wants to keep disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.  Yet I love writing.  I get into a state of semi-consciousness (as viewed by the outside world) where the words keep whirring through my mind and time passes by without me staring at the clock every four minutes.  Nothing else, not even reading, puts me in such a calm yet productive state of mind.  I’m not sure why my brain is so wired for this activity or why everything in my body pulls me toward it, but I’m not going to fight or question it much more.  Hopefully my passion for writing will come through even more this semester, especially since I will be writing many, many essays in the next eight weeks.

As for this particular essay, I think I’m enjoying it because it is on the Bronte sisters.  Well, even more importantly, it uses one of my favorite texts, Jane Eyre.  I do love Wuthering Heights, but I have to say thatJane Eyre does so much more for me.  I get angry, more angry than I usually get, at portions of Jane Eyre.  And even though I don’t think we’re too alike, I find myself sympathizing with her throughout most of the novel.  I also like this essay because I get the chance to finally read a novel by the third Bronte sister, Anne.  I picked her second, lesser known novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  I’m not sure why I picked that one instead of her more popular Agnes Gray, but it was an interesting read.  The tone is different from Charlotte and Emily from the beginning.  Her writing doesn’t strike me with poetic descriptions, but she writes with so much conviction about each scene.  Every word of dialogue seems of dire importance to the characters.  Again, I think the subject material has a lot to do with why I’m enjoying this first paper.  I hope I continue to enjoy it as I delve further into my first draft.


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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