Being In Conversation With Brilliance

The common thread that I noticed across the three readings about Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan in their claim to write, was the inspiration that they all draw from the world around them. There seems to be a deep awareness and inspection of their surrounding environment that they source to critique, reflect, and describe their world. Orwell, Didion and Sullivan all involve themselves in this type of engagement. However, though their is an element of sameness, these writers uniquely express their affinity for the written word differently.
Sullivan is very new new-age and cosmpolitan. He uses a digital platform to create an immediacy of conversation between himself and his audience. He is always on call and responsive to his reader in this way. Arguably his blogsophere has created a more interactive medium with his audience. Orwell, is a more reflective writer, and perhaps is much more patient with himself. He doesn’t compete with the urgency of the needs of the world, which is different from  Sullivan. Stylistically, as a writer, Didion seems to be more willing to be vulnerable. She is admittedly less abstract and self describes herself as not being an intellectual. Nevertheless, she consistently gives  deep consideration for the social and cultural causes of the world around her.

If I put Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan’s readings in conversation with the reading I brought to class by W.E.B. Du Bois, I will find that  their styles are aligned. For instance, while W.E.B. Du Bois writings aren’t new age in terms of media, it certainly has a classical understanding to race and sociology that continues to be echoed today. As Manning Marable’s Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois will make clear, W.E.B. Du Bois is up front with his readers about why he find purpose in writing, which for him can be sourced to the historical impulse and political purpose that Orwell finds in his own writing.  The tone Du Bois writes with is as raw and onset as Didion’s. Du Bois is often very provocative in his explanation of race, culture and identity. He was so provocative that he died having more critics than he did fans.
My reason for choosing Du Bois was partially because I am overly fanatic about Du Bois’ teachings and philosophies, but I also because I wanted to see for myself how timeless his writing really is.

Writing With Authority

The reading that my group was assigned to was Writing With Authority. This article was insightful in that it spoke about different writing techniques, a few of which I could personally identify. After reading this article, I realized that my style varies depending on the intention of my writing. For instance, when I studied at LSE last year  I wrote more like Roger’s character, making a claim then putting that claim in conversation with other scholars and thinkers to find my independent opinion on the said claim or ideology that I was debating with. However, similar to Janet’s character,  I can also remember writing in less sophisticated terms in my coursework for my History course my sophomore year.
I remember not understanding what exactly my History professor expected of my writing when asked to write book reviews for his course. I had a similar challenge last semester with another History professor who wanted me to do precisely what Roger was good at doing, “…recognize that knowledge develops through conversation and debate by actively analyzing authors’ assumptions and motivations and the situations in which they work.”  Because I have so much difficulty implementing this technique in my academic courses, I would like to improve my own writing. I always find it a challenge to switch tones, from journalistic to academic.


How I Write

What I liked most about the How I Write assignment is that it forced to be have an honest, and much needed conversation with myself about why I find character in writing. In that way, I appreciated this assignment. But, of course the actual process of writing it I drained, which is not unusual for me to say.
What I had difficulty with though was explaining how the story-telling aspect of this piece takes shape. I wanted to explain how and why I write was directly inspired by the 2008 general presidential campaign. When asked to explain why verbally, I can make sense of the experience of the 2008 presidential campaign gave me reason to become a writer. However, I have trouble actually writing it on paper. I want my writer to feel as moved as I was during the campaign. But, I don’t know the appropriate words to use so that my reader can fully understand where my inspiration comes from.
I also struggle with the tone of this piece. Should it read like an editorial, essay, or blog? I don’t feel confident about my incorporation of Orwell either. I understand what I’m trying to say, but does my audience?
Lastly, I am worried about citation. Given I don’t know what form this piece should take, I don’t know the proper citation to use when referencing sources.
In short, I need help.

W.E.B. Du Bois: An Interview With An American Genius

Since I couldn’t make the How I Write Series because of my work schedule, I was allowed to research an interview of a writer of my choice. Therefore, I decided to find an interview of the leading scholar  that two of  my courses is centered around–W.E.B. Du Bois.

In 1961, Du Bois gave an interview with the Alexander Street Press about his interest in The Crisis, a magazine that was founded by The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and edited by Du Bois.  In that interview Du Bois tells how and why he chooses to write. He explains that The Crisis is used as propaganda, as it what he chooses to write and for what purpose is intentional.  As an editor of The Crisis, he began his interview by telling the interviewer that the service that The Crisis provides to its readership is to “…discuss the Negro problem and tell White people and colored people what the NAACP does and what it’s supposed to do.”  At the end of his interview he makes it clear that his intention as a writer is to “…make people know what the Negro problem is and what they need to do to resolve it.”

While his technique wasn’t divulged in this particular interview it is made clear when reading his scholarly works, specifically  The Philadelphia Negro or Manning Marable’s, Biography of  W.E.B.Du Bois. According to Marable, Du Bois writes in the interest of the Negro  [African American],  by choosing to use his scholarship and  editorials to give attention to Black life. Marable explains that Du Bois not only shows this in his explanation— allowing the experience of Negroes in America to live on the consciousness of American identity–but in his form and technique as a writer.  Du Bois’  material comes from living in the same corridors of the people’s stories he’s tells. The Philadelphia Negro for instance is a product of years of research Du Bois did by being an ethnographer, living amongst his  human subjects to understand their organization, thoughts and positioning in the American experience.

Du Bois doing so is proof that the work that I want to do as a writer is relevant and important. What Du Bois did was explain what feminism was before it was vogue to do so, and gave ambition to his writing as an American historian. He was insightful. W.E.B. Du Bois provided a much needed analysis of American socialization. Not only did he critically examine and analyze how the politics of identity intersect with the social decorum of American traditions, but his interpretations are so classical that it continues to be relevant today.

If my writing lives with half the purpose  as Du Bois’, I would be grateful.

Writing Contest

For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Erica. I was in the first writing minor cohort last fall. It’s our responsibility to write at least two blog posts every month. This may not seem like a lot, but when you’ve got a million different things to do blogging tends to fall at the bottom of the to-do list.

I wasn’t really sure what to write about this month until I remembered what our syllabus last semester repeatedly said: “write about anything writing related on your mind.” Well, I’m a contributing writer for Her Campus and am in a writing contest to see whose article can get the most new views in the month of February. I thought you–as fellow writing minors and UofM students–would be a great audience for this contest. My article is about frat parties. Whether that’s your cup of tea or not, I hope you enjoy reading my article and exploring the site!

All you have to do is click on the link and it counts as a new view. Right now I’m in the lead and I would absolutely love to win the contest. If I do win, I get a top collegiette writer award–and the best part, a phone call or skype from Seventeen’s social media editor. This could be a great networking opportunity for me.

Thank you!!

The Most Affective Writing Process

What is the most affective writing process?  Throughout my life, I’ve always thought the methodology one uses to write is unique to them as a writer and it differs from person to person.  However, I’ve read an abundance of information on this topic over the last few weeks that discount my prior assessment of the writing process. I talked about what I thought was the correct writing process briefly in a response last week.   Since I was so conflicted about this topic, I felt that writing a full blog post on this topic was absolutely necessary in order to reflect on this issue in a more in-depth manner.

In my opinion, the “proper” writing process entails organizing my thoughts, writing a first draft, revising and editing the first draft, taking time away from the paper, and coming back to the paper to revise and edit it again to refine my thoughts.  However, a problem that I have with this process is identifying when I am satisfied enough with my first draft to move on from.  I know that everyone typically has shitty first drafts, but how do I know that the second draft isn’t shitty?  If the first draft is really that shitty, is it possible to doctor up the first draft enough to make the second draft un-shitty?  Will it be necessary to write three or four or five drafts to produce a reputable written document? Trying to come to terms about this leaves me feeling like the man shown below at my computer. 


I did a little research and on this website I found a lot of good information on the writing process.  It has interesting information about writing for a multitude of different venues and genres.  When I was reading through this I thought about what we read for class Monday about The Craft of Research.  I felt that this site, and The Craft of Research reading both contain information essential for any writer to assess reach their greatest potential.

Recently, one of the things that sparked a lot of questions in my mind about the writing process was the idea that one should take a day or two off from your writing and come back to it in order to produce a reputable document.  Everything in me and everything that I’ve found as a result of my research has said that one should take a day or so off from a written and come back to it in order to assess it objectively.  However, how can one take a day off from writing when there are already so many other things involved in the writing process that are time consuming?  Should I just do all my research and complete my first draft the day possible and not worry so much about the other steps in the writing process?  Will doing that devalue the other necessary steps in the writing process? How can I gauge what the proper amount of time spent on the different parts of the writing process should be? Over the past few weeks I have been pressed for time for a lot of my assignments, and I have found it arduous to complete everything in a timely manner.  In writing there is rarely ever a “right” or “wrong” answer because it is so subjective so I think there is always room for improvement in my writing.  But how can I distinguish between  having ruminating thoughts about my writing and when I actually need to change some things around? Can writing ever be complete?



Writers block

The thing that I wish to address in this prompt is ‘writers block.’ So, I’m leaving for Spring Break tomorrow morning at 5am with my friends, and I remembered, “Ohhh, I forgot to post to the blog. whops’ so as I came to WordPress, I didn’t know what I was going to write about.

I feel as though I have writers block only when it is late at night. Like Melody stated in her Why I Write presentation, I am definitely a morning writer as well. By far my best quality words  come to me when I am alive and fresh. Generally, when I am signing up for a new semester at school, I try to make it so I don’t have classes before 10am so that I can get really hard homework done. It is interesting how I much prefer to do writing in the morning and economics at night. Does anyone else have a particular homework for varying school subjects?

Generally I try to make sure that large important projects are not done the night before, however sometimes, doing a low-stakes blogpost is unavoidable the night before I leave.

I’m sorry this is so short, but I just cant take it anymore, I have to go to bed!

Have a great springbreak guys, wherever you are.

Jen Durow


The Personal Statement

This week was pretty scary for me. I met with my LSA advisor to discuss graduation… and it turns out I might be graduating in December….!!! Did time really fly by that quickly?! Is anyone else as scared as I am to actually leave this dreamy little bubble and enter the real world? I shudder at the thought.


Anyway, by the end of our meeting was I hit head on by about three hundred different things I have to make sure I get done over the next two months to make sure that I actually graduate. It turns out that my LSA advisor is also a pre-law advisor, and since I will be applying to law schools in the fall, we discussed what I should be thinking about before I start to apply. And something came up that I have been dreading for quite a long time: the personal statement. Yikes.


It feels like I’m applying to colleges all over again. What makes me unique? Do I have any gripping sob stories, any adventurous or unusual experiences that will set me apart from the thousands of other kids applying for the same slot? What angle should I take when trying to essentially sell myself through writing, once again? No matter how experienced a writer you may be, no matter how many times you’ve had to prove your worth in words, the personal statement never gets easy, particularly in the context of graduate school admissions. Is anyone else out there struggling with how they’re going to approach writing another one of these in the very near future?


I have to apologize for the shortness of my post this week, it is 1 A.M. and I’ve just arrived from the airport after a 3 consecutive all-nighters and a 3-hour delay trying to get home for spring break. Off I go to get some much needed zzzzz’s. Hope you all have a great week off!


Until next time!


– Allie

The Moment

I watch a lot of Basketball. My favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers (you know the team with three All-Stars and the greatest player, Kobe Bryant). I watch a lot of their games, and I read a lot of their articles. The most exciting games are those when the shooting is incredible. The shots come off of great assists and the team works together. And then the game gets to that moment where the entire stadium rises up and the person in the air shooting will determine their team’s fate.

Everyone in the stadium is watching the ball, but I’m looking at the player. I’m looking to see when their face turns from anticipation to joy, gloom, or “my bad”. I’ve been in one of those stadiums, I’ve experienced the excitement. I’ve watched an entire stadium anticipate a score only for their dreams to be shattered once the buzzer sounds.

As I read the article the next day, you don’t get that feeling. And I wonder if those moments can be captured in writing so emphatically that even readers that weren’t present could feel them? I wonder if readers can actually know how it felt to be there. How it felt for the players? Or how it even how it felt for the fans? Can such a great moment really be expressed in writing?

If there exists such writing I want to read it, and if there isn’t I want to write it. I want to write about how it really feels to be in the moment. Not to just to express great moments in sports but just great moments period. Because it just feels so good.


Patient is Not Yet My Virtue

I’m sure the people in my writing group will be sick of me reiterating this, but I do not write fiction. Never have, and really never was planning on it. When I examined the re-purposing assignment, it became clear that I was going to have to leave my comfort zone of academic argumentation and essentially try something new. While I initially planned to do a short story, a combination of a busy mind and too much caffeine led me to an entire night of reflection in bed. Somewhere around my fourth hour of trying to determine whether the bathtub above me is going to fall through the ceiling, because that crack may or may not be getting bigger, I decided to get up and do something productive. I have absolutely no idea what compelled me to write a poem, but it was probably the mixture of delirium from a lack of sleep and mold spores that may or may not be present in my foul living abode. Read More