Summary and Personal Response: “On Becoming a Writer”
Prof. Denise Ogden
28 October 2012
Summary and Personal Response: On Becoming a Writer
Mr. Russell Baker is a professional writer whose writings have earned him the Pulitzer Prize on more than one occasion. The excerpt “On Becoming a Writer” came from his memoir “Growing Up” (Baker, 1982). In this section of his memoirs, Mr. Baker is explaining that pivotal moment in his life when he realized he wanted to become a writer. Russell (1982) says that he had “been bored by everything associated with English courses”. He had dreaded having to write compositions, and knew that they were not acceptable writings. He didn’t like having to read the classics and said that it was “as deadening as chloroform”. He had an English teacher, Mr. Fleagle, who at first seemed to be straitlaced and puritanical. From his first impression of this teacher, he expected yet another year of monotony and boredom. Then one day his class had been given an assignment to write an informal essay. Russell had been given a list of topics to choose from for writing his essay. He took home this list and ignored it until the night before it was due. The topic that Mr. Baker chose to write about was “The Art of Eating Spaghetti”. He chose this topic because it was the one that stood out the most to him. It reminded him of an occasion when his family was eating spaghetti and the comical opinions of how to do it were making everybody laugh. It was at that moment that he actually had an epiphany. There was something he really wanted to evoke into his writing, particularly for himself. He started writing with the intentions of rewriting another version for his teacher. However by the time he finished writing the original he had no time to “compose a proper, respectable essay” for class. Mr. Baker had to turn in the original essay. He was sure that he was going to fail that lesson. When his English...
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