National Writing Project

Confessions of an Ex-College Freshman

By: James Moffett
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3
Date: May 1980

Summary: Moffett uses his experience as a freshman writer to argue that "when writers write from the heart they not only have something to say . . . but better order their thoughts and actualize their latent talent."



Whenever I was asked to write about something outside of books, the subject was so remote from me, such as national affairs, that I could know it mostly only second-hand and hence could hardly do anything but paraphrase the information and arguments that I got from newspapers, radio, and grown-up talk. But that's the point. My teachers really just wanted familiar, adult-sounding prose. This they equated with mature writing. They wanted phrasing they recognized, views they had heard aired around them, because this meant their students were joining the adult world.

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