Reflection

In  all honesty, I can’t believe that this semester is already coming to a close; it feels like it’s just begun! As a pre-medical student, I never though that I would be excited to take yet another writing class, but this semester has changed my mind drastically. Professor Manis has given us the freedom to develop as writers in the way that we see fit. This freedom has allowed me to explore different types of writing that I have never been give the chance to experiment with otherwise.

As we are nearing the end of the term, I can speak for every single one of us when I say that I have an unreasonable amount of work to do. We all have exams, papers, assignments, and presentations due left and right, which makes it very difficult for us to succeed academically. Unfortunately, that’s the Michigan Difference. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the University of Michigan and everything this school has to offer, but I often times find myself so worried about a letter grade that I forget what is truly important: learning. In my English 125 course, I catered each of my essays around exactly what my professor wanted me to write about. I hated writing papers for that class because I never felt as though I was truly expressing myself. In Writing 200, I have felt more than encouraged to experiment with different types of writing, whether it is serious, personal, or even satirical. This freedom has allowed me to forget about a letter grade and focus more heavily on the act and art of writing itself.

Although professor Manis does grade us based on our performance, and give us A/B/C/D grades on our essays, she makes it very clear that she just wants us to write, and be comfortable writing. That in it of itself has been the single most important experience that I can take away from this course. I have always been driven to excel in school, which in my mind often correlates to obtaining “A’s”…but what does an “A” really mean? It means that you were able to recite a specific fact on a specific day. There is no way to truly gage one’s knowledge of a subject, and because of that, grading seems rather silly doesn’t it? Professor Manis has done an incredible job of making me feel like I can write about whatever I want, without the fear failure (which, if any of you have taken organic chemistry, the looming fear of failure is almost always present).

We all are in the process of developing our writing skills, and it’s scary. It’s scary to get to know yourself on such an intimate level. It’s scary to feel insecure about your writing. It’s scary to try new techniques. But that’s what we’re here to do- to push ourselves. So, just remember:

So I guess I will leave you all with that fact that grades are important, and I’m not trying to abolish the grading scale. But at what point do “grades” start having a negative impact on the creativity and expression of students? Debate.

Early Reflections and Part Two, without the animated gifs

Discretion is the better part of valor, in all parts of life.  Remember that.

This semester has been one of the worst semesters of my college life.  Class-wise, that is. Non-class-wise, it’s been pretty great.  But class-wise, it feels like I’m back in high school.  Which, contrary to popular belief, is not the best time of one’s life.  Especially writing-wise, ugh.

So it should come as no surprise to hear that writing this semester has been a complete drag.  It’s basically been response papers to the same subjects presented in variations, or papers that inherently demand simplified arguments because of space and time restrictions.  I never thought I’d say this, but I really find myself wanting longer and tougher assignments.

So, because writing opportunities have been complete barf this semester, it’s also been my semester of mediocre grades (can anyone smell early-onset senioritis?).  I got my first B- on a paper in a long time.  It was in English, which kinda hurt.  I mean, if it was one thing I was good at growing up, it was the English language.  As my mother was always telling me and I was always thanking her, until I identified it as a back-handed compliment, to say the least.

When I got the grade, I was hacked at first.  It’s a lower-level English class, I’m a junior, and a B- isn’t even cutting it for MIW requirements, never mind my pride.  Besides, wasn’t complexities one of the joys of the English language?

Then, as the stages of grief go, anger turned to depression.  Okay, at this point I realize I was operating as if I had nooo life, but I’m just telling it like it was at the time.  Seriously, though, I was in a funk.  I began to tell myself that maybe I wasn’t even a good writer, that I deserved this grade.  Then it hit me – it was easier to tell myself I wasn’t a good writer than face the truth – I’m a good writer, but I kind of am doin’ it wrong.  And that acceptance really has helped me move forward in my writing approach.  I don’t think I deserved an A, on that writing assignmen.

And that’s where tutoring elementary children in how to write a paragraph came in handy.  One day three weeks ago I sat down across from K., my tutee, and heard myself say, “Well, you know, writing is about communication.”  And this is so true!  Complex writing is not necessarily good writing, if it fails to communicate ideas.   This fact had apparently escaped me when I was writing that pesky English paper.  This being real life, I didn’t exactly hear the proverbial angels sing.  But still, I went “huh.”  And then wrote a two-part blog about it, so I guess that’s something.

In other news, I’m planning on turning my next English paper in next week, so right now I’m working on simplifying.  We’ll see how that goes!

Writing Reflections

I didn’t do nearly as much school-related writing this semester as I did last semester. Maybe it’s because I’m taking project-based marketing courses instead of the traditional communications classes that are heavy in writing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of writing for these marketing projects, just no 8-10 page essays. I think I prefer this type of marketing case study writing. I was assigned to compile and edit everything after people researched their individual parts. I think it’s really cool to put together the piece and see how the final product looks.

Aside from this type of writing, I wrote a dance performance reflection, a few mini writing assignments, and a long paper about the double standard for my women’s health class. This last essay took me a while to write, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m just a little worried about the structure of it. I felt like all of my ideas overlapped a lot. I guess we will see when I get my grade back!

I’ve been applying to a lot of internships and as a result writing a lot of cover letters. I love this type of writing because it lets me talk about my strengths. I also wrote numerous articles for Her Campus. I always enjoy writing these articles because I get to write about the college lifestyle. I don’t anticipate much writing for the rest of the semester aside from finishing powerpoints for my projects.

Happy writing everyone!

 

Blog Theme #1: Reflection

As your formally elected Minor in Writing Blog Committee, we cordially invite all cohort members to participate in our monthly “themed” blogging. We feel that themed posts will both promote inter-cohort communication and collaboration, as well as provide a multitude of perspectives on a single, focused topic. Think of these prompts as “guidelines” to use in order to freely express your thoughts and opinions about the subjects at hand.

For April’s theme, we’d like you to reflect on you writing experiences this semester. What was your favorite thing you wrote? Did you write anything outside of your coursework that was meaningful to you? What lies ahead for the rest of your semester? Remember to use the appropriate tags and categories: Monthly Theme, April, Reflection.

Mulan - Reflection
Get it? Reflection? We’re very funny people.

We look forward to your contributions.

Regards,
Your Blog Overlords

Julia Adams
Zach Bucholtz
Josh Kim
Alex Olkowski

One Thing Is Clear

Hurry, please. … There’s someone screaming outside,” a neighbor whispers. “There’s a gunshot. Hurry up. … There’s someone screaming. I just heard a gunshot. – 911 Caller

I’ll dedicate this post to a few quotes from the Trayvon Martin case that have caught my attention over the past couple of weeks. I find it interesting how much words can say beyond what is written and how both sides of the case have selected the words that they have. I’m going to try to leave my opinion out of this post – arrest George Zimmerman (I said try) – and focus on the quotes and what I have learned from them. I will also be looking at comments from you maybe you can provide a different prospective on some of these quotes [especially some that I don’t comment on].

But first – if you haven’t already –  listen to the Zimmerman’s 911 tape.

Actually, could you have him call me and I’ll tell him where I’m at. – George Zimmerman

1)

I’ll start with my favorite – but possibly the saddest:

They’ve killed my son, and now they’re trying to kill his reputation. – Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.

With all the media surrounding this case and the recent release of evidence against Trayvon Martin – suspensions for marijuana and graffiti, and statements from key witnesses – this quote is absolutely spot on. The choice of the word they’ve adds this idea that Trayvon’s killer is not just George Zimmerman, but it is the societal system that is also killing his reputation.

2)

Next, I’ll lump a few quotes together from various witnesses that – the media and I believe – are either on one side or the other. By these quotes, you will see that the witnesses try say one or the other was the aggressor never both. The first witnesses that I will quote are roommates that have claimed to be making coffee in the kitchen when the incident occurred.

Zimmerman was standing over the body with — basically straddling the body with his hands on Trayvon’s back,” Cutcher said. “And it didn’t seem to me that he was trying to help him in any way. I didn’t hear any struggle prior to the gunshot. And I feel like it was Trayvon Martin that was crying out, because the minute that the gunshot went off, the whining stopped – Mary Cutcher.

Selma asked him three times, ‘what’s going on over there?’  He looks back and doesn’t say anything. She asks him again, ‘everything OK? What’s going on?’ Same thing: looked at us, looked back. Finally, the third time, he said, ‘just call the police’  -Mary Cutcher speaking for her roommate Selma Mora Lamilla.

These two seem to be on the side that supports Trayvon Martin. Remember, its been a month or so since the murder/self-defense occurred. Both Selma and Mary have had time to think the situation through and responded with the above quotes when interviewed. The last part in of the first quote is what sticks out to me the most because there is a lot of controversy circling this question of, “Who was screaming?” Mary Cutcher chose to add this part in her comment. She could have simply stated: The minute the gunshot went off, the whining stopped. Instead she included that Trayvon Martin was crying out, which is definitely important to the case and how the media will portray her account.

There are other witnesses – including Trayvon’s girlfriend – that support that George Zimmerman was the aggressor and not Trayvon, and they can be found on any news site.

3)

Now, I will add some quotes that tell a different story. Some of these quotes were reports from the actual crime-scene so they were most likely not carefully thought out, while others have just surfaced in the whirlwind of publicly released evidence surrounding this case.

I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me. – George Zimmerman

“I told him [presumably Trayvon Martin because he was not the one that “John” claims was wearing the red sweatshirt on the bottom] to stop and I was calling 911, and then when I got upstairs and looked down, the person that was on top [Trayvon] beating up the other guy was the one laying in the grass. I believe he was dead at that point”  – “John” the protected witness.

 4)

A development in this case that has occurred over the past couple of days has been the comments by Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver.

This incident – on its own – is not a racial incident, this story is a racial story. – Joe Oliver


“He cried for days after this happened. The George Zimmerman I know is not here anymore, because he knows that he took someone else’s life, and he’s extremely remorseful.” – Joe Oliver.

5)

As with anything violent, violence is usually not a good response. However, the New Black Panthers have made their presence felt by placing a bounty on George Zimmerman.

According to the street people’s law, (George Zimmerman) has been charged with murder — according to street law, according to God’s law. – Mikhail Muhammad, leader of New Black Panthers.

Witnesses and others closely involved with this case should be worried about their safety.

“I now have to be concerned for my safety, not just for myself but for my friends and family as well,” he said. “Yet I wasn’t there, I didn’t pull the trigger. All I’m doing is standing up for a friend.” – Joe Oliver

I believe this quote by Joe Oliver couldn’t be more true. Violence really is not the answer here. Trayvon is dead and that is the tragedy here. More violence will never makeup for that loss. This brings me to my last quote. Regardless of what happened that night, it’s hard to argue against the fact that,

My son did not deserve to die – Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin.

Is this the Real Zimmerman?
Or Is This?

All information can be found at http://www.cnn.com

Mimicking

It must be an amazing experience when you encounter someone that is just like you. Especially when you’ve felt like for so long that you were the only one. Just this past weekend I was with my niece and she doesn’t encounter little girls a lot because my sister hasn’t had her around a lot of children. She’s only one she’ll be two in June.

 

Any who, we were walking down the street and she saw a little girl that was the same height, and used the same form of “talking” as my niece did. They stared at each other and smiled for about five minutes before talking in “infant” talk to one another. When they first saw each other they ran to each other and just stared and smiled. It was like a light-bulb moment or love at first sight. It was almost as if they were checking each other to make sure they were real.

 

I thought about moments in my life that were like that. Moments that brought out the smile-of-fascination. I remember reading a book by Toni Morrison called The Bluest Eye, there were times throughout the book that I thought only came from my mind. There were things that I thought only I thought about. I felt like the writer took a piece of me. Knew things about me that I never told anyone about but somehow could pinpoint the exact words to describe my feelings.

 

I found myself wanting to imitate these writers. I wanted to know how to express myself in the ways that they could. So that the hope one day someone would place a smile-of-fascination on something that I wrote.

 

My niece and the little girl followed each other. They were in awe on each other’s mannerisms and likeness. In the same ways I think you look up to people that you feel are like you and try to mimic them. I look up to writers like Toni Morrison and Richard Wright because I’m in awe of their writing. My niece respects me and admires me in ways because I’m one person that does fun stuff with her. I allow her to have interactions and experiences a kid should have. So, there are times she mimics me…

I think the ideas of admiration and mimicking are important to writing because it helps develop your writing style more.

Why is the Book Always Better than the Movie?

In the spirit of the newly released “Hunger Games” movie, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the transition from book to movie and why some people argue that the book is always better.  I, myself, am not a reader or fan of the Hunger Games, but have been unavoidably overwhelmed by the influx of excitement via Facebook, Twitter, and television commercials for its recently released film now in theaters.  Though I did not see the film, my perception from what I’ve heard about it is that it was disappointingly bad.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the case for most book-to-film remediations.

Considering the likes of Harry Potter, the Twilight Saga, James and the Giant Peach, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and countless others, such films are constantly criticized for being subpar if not downright bad.  Perhaps this is because the portrayals in the film do not align with people’s own imagined descriptions and depictions from the text.  Maybe the film skips parts that were in the book or oversimplifies a plot/scenario/relationship; whatever the case, more often than not, the hype for such movies is met with utter disappointment and, at times, outrage.

Granted, it is merely impossible to please everyone, and every film has its critics, but it is certainly worth contemplating the reasons for why the book is always said to be better than the movie.  What do you think?

Stereotypes

A few weeks ago I made a presentation in which I talked about stereotypes.  I argued that although stereotypes can be problematic, I don’t think that the existence of stereotypes is inherently negative.  When I was reading an article concerning Trayvon Martin this idea of the importance of stereotypes came up again.  I think the title, and a lot of the information in the article, A fight for Trayvon Martin is a war against Stereotypes, is problematic because I don’t think stereotypes are negative.  I think it is absolutely necessary to be aware of stereotypes in America.  However, to be aware of stereotypes doesn’t mean that you have to perpetuate stereotypes.

I took Roland Martin’s opinion that he expressed in this article into consideration when I made my second analysis of the relevance of stereotypes in America.  I came to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily agree with his point that there should be a war against stereotypes. If the American public thinks that there should be a war against racial profiling, then I agree.  However, being aware of stereotypes is very important, and I think a war against them would be detrimental to American society. If Trayvon Martin would’ve taken into consideration the stereotype that a black man with a hoodie on at night generally means that they are a menace to society and altered his dress, would he still have been murdered?  I don’t think it is fair that African Americans should have to alter their dress to be safe in America but I think it is one of the harsh realities of the American system.

The murder of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy; there is no denying that fact.  I don’t think any murder is justifiable unless it is clear that the murder took place as a result of self-defense or in the interest of national security. I have not analyzed all the evidence available in the Trayvon Martin case, and I probably never will.  As a result, I will not take a stance on this case whatsoever. I can only hope that justice will be served in America.

I think it is the responsibility of every American to be aware of stereotypes.  I think it is especially important for African Americans to be aware of stereotypes so that race can remain safe. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of negativity, but I am safe, and that is a testament to my parents’ teachings.  I was always taught by my parents to be aware of what I wear, what I say, and what I do, in order to stay safe.  I don’t think wearing a hoodie is problematic, but I do think that people should be extremely selective about when and where they put the actual hood on the hoodie. My parents often discouraged me from wearing the hood on a hoodie because of the perception it gives off to other people.  Do you think all of the people who support this hoodie march for Trayvon Martin would wear it at night if they were in Trayvon’s situation?  I know I wouldn’t wear a hoodie at night as an African American male in an affluent community when I think someone is following me because I think wearing it will jeopardize my safety.

The purpose of this post is to log my thoughts and to express the way I feel about stereotypes.  I don’t know if I will feel the same way about this 5, 10, or 20 months or years from now.  However, at this point in life, I think that stereotypes are extremely important to be aware of in society.  I think being aware of stereotypes is tantamount to being an informed citizen.  As an informed citizen, you will be able to make wise decisions based on the American system as it stands.  I think the perpetuation of a stereotype is the problem more so than the stereotype itself.  I think the perpetuation of a stereotype legitimizes it.  Legitimizing stereotypes is problematic because doing so perpetuates it.  By perpetuating stereotypes the doors open for racial profiling and the occurrence of negative racist events.  I think we should seek to live a life beyond stereotypes, but we should be aware of them at all times.

 

The Book-Movie Transformation and the Intense Fans

My roommate always latches on to fads. Latches on probably isn’t the phase for it – it’s more like a death grip. She LOVES Twilight, Harry Potter, Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, and just about any other popular young-adult book series, TV show, or movie. She is the girl that has a t-shirt for every opening night of each Twilight movie; she dresses up for Harry Potter. Most recently she has caught on to the Hunger Games. She supposedly bought the first ticket in the Rave IMax theatre when they first went on sale.

This is not my roommate... but I wouldn't be surprised.

Normally my roommate tries to drag me into her obsessions, and I try everything to resist (I’ve still held out on watching the latest Twilight movie!). However, I wasn’t too opposed to Hunger Games, so I agreed to go with her Friday night – yes, after she watched it the night before in the IMax theatre on opening night. We went with a group of friends, and my roommate was the only one that had actually read the books.

Two of my friends and I are all sociology majors, and after the movie we started joking about all the sociological messages that could be taken from the film. However, my roommate was quick to defend many of our observations, claiming that the book would have described things a lot better. I didn’t really see a problem with anything from the movie, but she was adamant about explaining that a lot of things from the book were not explained well enough in the movie.

I thought this brought up a really interesting point about writing mediums. As someone who had not read the Hunger Games books, I was not judging the movie based on what was left out. I looked at the movie in and of itself, thinking about the plot, characters, and scenes based on what I saw in the theatre. However, as happens with many books turned into movies, people are unable or unwilling to do this. The transformation from one form of writing to the next is what people judge.

Now that we are in the process of this same type of transformation, I wonder how our audience will judge our works. Will it be based on the original work and how satisfied the audience is with how it was changed? Or will it be seen for something new and unique in its transformation?

Writing is cheap.

As an avid lover of Pride and Prejudice I’ve wondered what’s happened to the art of letter writing. They always sounded so eloquent. Some of the most eloquent and powerful writers of the likes Thomas Jefferson of Jane Austin were also letter writers.

Not that they had a choice. But we do. We could write a letter, send a text, video chat, facebook chat, email, blog, word process. Which one of these is not like the others? Letter writing.

Writing by hand is laborious. If you’re writing on stationary, or a card with a pen, you have to take care not to mess up. If you do, you have to have either an unattractive smudge or start over on a blank card–which could get expensive. So you have to think about what you’re going to say. To have to be deliberate, not too hasty, because there is no going back. Typing on the other hand, has no deliberation, I could write a really crappy rambling run-on sentence about ponies and butterflies just to amuse myself and delete it faster than I wrote it. Or I could copy and past it and use it somewhere else. If I were writing this by hand, I would have erase, or re-write or start on a new sheet of paper.

If I change my mind and want to move this paragraph I can drop and drag it to its new home. If I was writing by hand, I would have to start over or cut it out. It would be messy.

The phrase: “How long does it take me to write this by hand?” took me 15 seconds to write by hand and 6 seconds to type. Multiple that by paragraphs and the difference is dramatic. My question is, has writing become cheap? Because it is so easy, so quick, so relatively painless to write and delete and to move.

How would our writing style and writing process change if we didn’t have word processors? If so much of the writing we did wasn’t on the computer? No doubt that the internet, key board, and microsoft word make my life easier, and if this was written on a sheet of paper as opposed to the web I couldn’t share it as easily with all of you, and you couldn’t “interact” with it as easily by making comments. Do you think the strength of writing has decreased with the ease and lack of deliberation?