Read the beginning of Margaret Atwood’s “A Letter to America”, which uses a personified style to address the country. Write a letter to an event or an object in your life in a similar personified style, telling the story or stories that happened between the two of you. Please write 600–800 words.
A Letter to America
This is a difficult letter to write, because I’m no longer sure who you are.
Some of you may be having the same trouble. I thought I knew you: We’d become well acquainted over the past 55 years. You were the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comic books I read in the late 1940s. You were the radio shows—Jack Benny, Our Miss Brooks. You were the music I sang and danced to: the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, the Platters, Elvis. You were a ton of fun.
2016“外研社杯”写作大赛的记叙文题目不同于往年的续写，要求选手自行选定一样熟悉的事物或事件以拟人化的手法给其写一封信。审过题后，我感到有些棘手，因为我不仅需要在短时间内迅速选定对象，还要保证自己能围绕它讲出一段引人入胜的故事，这属实不易。我在草纸上开始头脑风暴，写下了许多备选的object，又一一否定。这时，我重新审视题目，发现the answer is staring me right in the face——这么多年来，让我几多欢喜几多愁的作文，不正是一个再合适不过的话题吗？于是我不再犹豫，敲定了题目：A Letter to Essay Writing。
有了大致的outline，就可以开始动笔了。我把essay writing拟作一个自己一直爱慕着的姑娘，讲述了和她相识相知的点点滴滴。中间，我回忆起身为语文老师的母亲小时候在书桌前带我一起阅读、辅导我写作的情形，也回忆起从小到大指导我、鼓励我的老师，这让我不由得感慨到，I owe them everything。文章中因此有了不少感恩的成分，这不仅让我写起来感到格外温暖，也使文章有了人情味。
A Letter to Essay Writing
Dear Essay Writing,
How's everything going? I have to say that it's a pity you and I never had the chance to meet in person. I may soon be leaving for another continent, the academic world. I met this girl academic writing who I really clicked with, and may not be easy to reach from then on. I've decided to write you this letter before I can make any decisions; it sure brings up some mixed feelings, but I believe it's important that I tell you how I feel.
You are, of course, no stranger to me. I first heard of your name on a Thursday afternoon at my primary school. I was 11 and our English teacher, Ms. Liu wrote your name in marvelous scripted letters on the blackboard. A ray of sunshine slanted through the windows, and your name shimmered in the sunlight. I had heard so much about your unique beauty, about how every successful writer had begun their fantastic journey by going on a date with this girl and getting heartbroken several times. It was really an honor that I could also be blessed with such a chance. Of course, according to my English teacher, I had to crack a riddle to win myself the opportunity of meeting you. The question was, "what was your most unforgettable experience?" Sitting in front of my desk, the excitement made me stumble over my words. Writing that essay was a daunting task for a sixth grader, but luckily I had my mother's help. "What are you working on, kid?" She asked me in this soothing tone, which is exactly what I needed at the moment. "Writing an essay, " I replied, "but I can't find a suitable topic. It's really frustrating. And the word choice is really a headache." "Well, all great works require great efforts. Take it easy." I stared at the blank paper for another ten minutes, and that's when I remembered the amazing exotic dish of spaghetti I just had last month. It was at my uncle's place and as soon as I started recollecting these memories, it was as if I could smell the food and hear the laughter of people in the room again. I decided to write my feelings down instantly, not for you for myself. It took me almost the whole night, and by the time I finished I had no time to write another proper essay that I think I can show you. I had to muster up my courage and hand it in to my teacher the following day. When she finished grading and everyone got their feedbacks, I was the only one who had nothing in my hands. I instantly started feeling uncomfortable and anxious. Then Ms. Liu walked inside and told us she wanted to read us an essay. That's my essay! My heart was filled with excitement, and it was truly a moment to remember. I could literally see you smiling at me. Everything seemed to be on the right track from then on. In middle school, things between us went even smoother. I was the first person to publish an essay on a paper that all my fellow classmates subscribed to, and it made me happy and proud to think that you might have seen my achievements.
Then you and I gradually fell apart. My writing was no longer attracting and every time I handed my writing in, my teacher would frown slightly and tell me patiently that something's missing. I knew exactly what she meant; my writing had no soul. It was nothing more than a combination of difficult words and worthless cliche. I thanked my teacher and brought my graded paper back home. It was a miserable night, and clouds gathered, a perfect setting for a perfect storm. The sound of pounding rain and howling winds outside was becoming unbearable, as I frantically searched for any room of improvement. There was none. Then it struck me that perhaps I simply didn't deserve someone like you. I tore all the paper lying on my table, with words sketched on them like graffiti into pieces . I never wrote anything again ever since.
An unexpected twist came a little more than a year ago, when I heard your name once again in a literature class at my university. It was a lecture given by Professor Paul, and he mentioned your new address, a technique known as Stream of Consciousness. According to Paul, it was the best way to break the writer's block. That night I sat in front of my table, struggling over whether I should try and reach out for you again. I scrolled through the lecture slides over and over again unconsciously, as memory came flooding in. I picked up my pen, grabbed a piece of paper and started writing again, although I knew you wouldn't be there to listen. That's when I realized how special you were to me.
记叙文写作题目中给出的范例文章题目是“A Letter to America”,乍一看觉得是非常宏大的题目，读起内容来却细致入微，作者以幽默嘲谑的笔调从军事、文化和宗教等各方面抨击了美国的现状，其深刻的洞察力和诙谐犀利的文笔让人赞叹不已。选手的这篇文章题目为“A Letter to Essay Writing”，紧张的赛场上能有这样新奇的立意实属难得，让我们分析下同样看似宏大的题目作者是怎样hold住的。
文章第一段作者就以旧情人的语气给Essay Writing写信，提及了自己的“新欢”——Academic Writing，写出了作者十分复杂的心情和难以抑制的倾诉欲。这是个非常成功的开头，非常能抓住读者的注意力。而且能够将Essay Writing 比作情人也是出奇制胜。个人认为，有待商榷的是Essay Writing 和Academic Writing是从属关系，如果要表达记叙文写作，用Narrative Writing; 而表达散文是Prose。Essay严格来说应该是包含学术论文的。第二段是比较长的一段，概括来说写出了作者与旧情人从相遇到相知的过程。小学英文课上初遇Essay Writing，交往是紧张而焦虑的。最终在母亲的鼓励下，成功撩到并得到老师表扬。之后进入热恋阶段，初中甚至成为同学中第一个发表文章的人。内容非常精彩，描述细致贴切，当读者以为这就是文章高潮的时候出现了戏剧性的转折——热恋中的双方突然吵架了。作者和小女朋友开始了痛苦的冷战，起因是老师指出了作者文章没有灵魂，作者不知道如何改进，不知道如何哄女朋友的直男癌晚期让读者操透了心。最后一段两方关系有所缓和的秘诀是意识流的写作方式，柳暗花明又一村。作者决定重新开始尝试写作，重修旧好。这样的结尾给读者留下无限遐想。
语言的运用是文章的一大亮点，作者对细节和心理变化的细腻描写体现了深厚的语言功力。Click with someone, a daunting task, in a soothing tone, muster up my courage, pounding rain and howling wind等短语运用得非常贴切。
文章结构比较清晰，段落之间衔接流畅自然。尤其是第二、三、四段的主旨句，简短却发挥着承上启下的作用。如第二段第一句You are, of course, no stranger to me. 读完第一段模糊知道了读者与Essay Writing的历史，而读到第二段很自然地了解到作者的意图是回忆与Essay Writing的点滴。第三段第一句Then you and I gradually fell apart。读过第二段的美好，再读这句话就清晰的知道要转折了。个人感觉，美中不足的是第二段有些过长，或许适度分段效果会更好。