In every book or novel, each author has a different type of writing style that helps readers become more drawn into the stories that the authors’ are trying to tell. Personally, it is hard for me to determine what kind of writing style and voice I use as a writer in essays or other types of written work. There are three essays that I have read this semester which have impacted my life which are “Warrior Day” by Anne Bernays, “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard and “Have a Caltastic Day!” by Kurt Streeter. In my opinion, the one that truly stood out of the three was the essay written by Anne Bernays because not only does she experience the same type of situation as me, but the style she uses lets me exactly understand the type of emotions she goes through.
Growing up I didn’t really have someone to look up to or I could call as “my hero”. My dad was working full time from the minute the sun rose up to the minute it rose down. At just five years old, I learned to become a very independent person. Such as learning how to tie my own shoes, how to brush my hair and tie it into a ponytail and even finding my way down the hill where the bus patiently waited for me to arrive. In my family it consists of eight people; five sisters and two brothers. Out of these eight people only one has successful attend college and graduated with some type of degree. The reason I fell in love with law enforcement was through my older brother Frankie. He would always tell me these amazing stories about the different kinds of training he had to do and all the types of people he would come across.
I knew fact that he truly enjoyed his job and the idea of helping others; this, all these stories started to truly fascinated me. I was so attached to the idea of one day I wanted to be in the same place as him. A day before the ceremony my brother had told everyone that he was going to be sent to Germany for an assignment. In that very moment, I had felt my heart sink to my stomach. I was so full of sadness and rage that the correct words could not come out of my mouth. Over and over again I told him that it was ridiculous for him to put his life in danger to begin with. I begged him to stay and drop the whole idea of becoming a US soldier.
The next day, the ceremony took place and everyone seemed a little less tense than the day before. I was mixed with so many emotions I did not know how to react to anything around me. Slowly, I began to stop supporting my brother’s big dream and became negative towards everything. I felt like nothing was going to change my mind until I saw my brother turned around with the biggest smile on his face.
There, Frankie Lopez stood with his head held up high and his chest a little popped out. The sergeant called out his name while he handed him the medal. I never felt more proud of my brother. Instantly, I knew the real reason he wanted to become a soldier in the first place. I know because that is what inspired me to study law enforcement. As of today, I still feel a bit guilty and quite embarrassed over the fact that I was the only person in my family who was just so negative about my brother’s news.
The essay “Warrior Day” by Anne Bernays helped me realize that the way I reacted at my brother’s ceremony was not as selfish as I portrayed it to be. Furthermore, the type of style Bernays used as a writer allowed the readers and I to become a part of her own story by using third person which is something authors don’t often use. Her writing style and voice inspire me to be different and become more open to readers like she was. Afterall, I rather have a reader absorb my words and imagine themselves in my shoes then just read it and move on to the next.
The second essay that made an impact on my life was “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard. In her essay, she identifies the early moments in her life and how it was filled with all these different adventures. She makes it clear to the readers that they are not just old memories of her childhood but they become very important moments for her.
I relate to her story because many experiences I had as a child shaped me into the person I am today. I too had a crazy childhood where I would ride down the hill on a skateboard even though my dad did not like it, or how I would ride my bike around the neighbor’s driveway with my younger brother. I admire how she talks about her childhood as if she was reliving the adventure right now.
In my opinion, it attracts the reader’s attention more when the author becomes more descriptive about the story rather than just being plain and boring. Dillard also believes that every adventure she came across always taught her some type of lesson. Her voice truly impacts my life because it convinces me not to be scared of becoming a little more open to the readers; it is okay to write about your life experiences and how it taught valuable lessons that later on in life become very handy.
What I admire about Dillard’s writing style is that she uses a lot of figurative language to make the story more fun and uplifting. An example would be when she described how the “stars shined like little diamonds in the sky.” The simile that she uses makes a connection between stars and diamonds where both objects share the same characteristics. Dillard also describes the story’s characters by using words that indicate their appearance and personality traits.
The author tends to choose her words wisely in order to provide enough details for their readers to understand the characters better. An example would be when Dillard describes the snowball fight with her friends. Dillard clearly describes how the angry man chased her because she threw the snowball at his windshield and it made a star in it. She narrates her experience by adding details, which also allow the readers to have a more visual thought about the essay.
Lastly, the third essay that is compelling to me is “Have a Caltastic Day” by Kurt Streeter. In his essay, Streeter writes about a student has always had straight A’s all throughout high school, but then later finds out when he attends Berkeley it is a totally different world. He struggles to keep his GPA and gets to the point where he wants to give up; there is no hope. However, at the end, everything turns around for him for the better and he passes his first college year.
The use of language that Streeter uses affects me positively because I connect with the essay since I have too experienced a downfall in school before. Many students especially in high school and college always struggle and comes to a point where giving up is the only option left for them. Rather than staying positive about the situations or obstacles that the students face, they rather go the easy was a remain negative. Streeter displays this essay as a success story and lets the readers know that it doesn’t take the richest or smartest people to accomplish great things in life.
In conclusion, the three essays that impacted my life the most which were ‘Warrior Day” by Anne Bernays, “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard and “Have a Caltastic Day!” by Kurt Streeter. The one essay that influenced me the most was “Warrior Day” by Anne Bernays. Bernays has a very unique way of using her words because not only does she write in third person instead of first, she wants readers to experience her story with her as well. Bernays wants readers to absorb the style of writing she uses to help identify what kind of voice she displays as a writer. The essay not only helped me find my voice as a writer but it helped me determine what kind of style of writing I want to use to allow readers to be a part of my life. In addition, it gave me a clearer image of how authors can have a big impact on a person just by using a few words in a book.
- Cooley, Thomas, editor. Back to the Lake. Third edition. Norton, 2015.
- Bernays Anne. “Warrior Day.” Cooley, pp. 153-55.
- Dillard, Annie. “An American Childhood.” Cooley, pp. 141-46.
- Streeter, Kurt. “Have a Caltastic Day.” Cooley, pp. 119-26.