I recently visited a writing tutor. Since it was a legitimate writing tutor, as in this student writes really well and so thus was honored as a writing tutor, I was thinking, “Yay! Somebody can finally honestly and roughly critique my paper!” Since I am better than most peers at writing, when I do peer editing, the others usually tell me, “I loved your paper. It was perfect!” Then when I go back and read it, or have a professor read it, we immediately see huge problems and countless spots to revise. Therefore, in meeting this tutor, I was excited to finally break the simpering and intimidated-by-large-words mold of past peer editors.
That didn’t happen. Though the tutor did have a few well placed comments, such as pointing out where I need to clarify things, especially as an outsider looking in, the paper felt solid to her, and there wasn’t anything major to change. She might as well said, “I loved your paper. It was perfect!”
I know in my gut there are structural and argumentative problems with my paper. After all, by the sixth page (read, seventh hour of writing), I was impatient and dying of boredom, both of which do not bode well for a coherent argument. Though I am a better essay writer than most, as Dumbledore said, that just means my mistakes are correspondingly larger. I have problems with wordiness and using esoteric analysis. I have battles with topic sentences—I hate using them because they give everything away. It is very frustrating, time and time again, to encounter peers who cannot pick up on this and give a thorough critique and well-thought-out advice. I cannot always ask my professors to read over my essays.
I have only met one peer that can edit my papers critically and give valuable feedback: my best friend, but sadly, she is six hours away. You’d think a top-notch liberal arts college would attract strong writers, but this is not the case. I took the required writing course last semester, and most of the time, I’d be helping them more than they helped me. In addition, my professor mentioned in passing she would recommend me to be a writing tutor. Later, I actually ended up helping one of my friends write her end-of-term sociology paper (which she got an A on—funnily enough, the other time I helped someone write a paper was in high school, the girl got an A as well, full points from a teacher who is notoriously hard).
Nonetheless, I will continue to visit writing tutors, and hopefully I will be able to find a peer who has that high intellectual notch. Until then.