Sure, drafting is important. Drafting helps make writing better, brighter, bolder—it’s a rare thing to find a rough draft that isn’t improved by careful thought and revision. But before any of that, before writing a rough draft and getting feedback and fixing things up and crying when nothing is working the way it should be, comes something else: figuring out what you want to say and who you want to say it to.
As silly as it may sound, reading “Drafting and Revising Your Project” reminded me of that. The chapter brought back a lot of the guidelines that were present at the beginning of the book (and class), which made me step back and reevaluate the big picture. As I begin constructing my ePortfolio, working out what pieces to include, how to sharpen my re-purposing and re-mediation projects, and how to format those in a digital profile, I need to keep in mind my audience and the impression that I want to give them.
At the moment, I’m trying to figure out what exactly I want my ePortfolio to be—and that depends largely on who I intend to view it. On the one hand, I could make the project into something personal, a way to record the work that I’ve done as a writer and evaluate the progress I have made over time. In that case, my audience would be primarily myself, but also anyone interested in my work as a writer (like family, friends, colleagues in the Minor in Writing).
Perhaps the more compelling goal for my ePortfolio, however, is for it to serve as a professional representation of my work. I’d like a job after I graduate, and unfortunately a degree in history won’t guarantee me one. But with the ePortfolio, which I would include on my resume, there might be hope; I could prove to employers my ability to write, to produce creative pieces and arguments. And on top of that, I don’t think that creating my ePortfolio with the intention of marketing myself would alter the goals I currently have for my projects. My re-purposing piece (and my idealized re-mediation piece) is the kind of thing that I would want to be read by a lot of people interested in politics or the media, so I wouldn’t be straying from the original audience of that project by directing the ePortfolio at employers in those areas.
The reason that I’m thinking about my audience so much is because it will have a massive effect on the way that I make (and then revise, again and again) my ePortfolio. As I’m accumulating reflective notes about the projects we’re creating in class, I’m wondering how I will include those in my ePortfolio. In a personal page, it seems that it would make more sense to feature these notes prominently, describing my thought process (almost like a journal entry); in a professional page, however, where should they go? Will potential employers want to see these notes right next to a completed piece, or does it make more sense to include them in a separate section (where they can still be found but aren’t in the way)? How visible should the reflective process be?
As I write this, I realize that I’ve probably talked myself into making employers or professionals my audience. Yay! But I still need to figure out what choices to make about my ePortfolio’s content and layout to appeal to this group. In the chapter, feedback was a prominent subject. It’s just occurring to me that it might be useful to talk to some sort of employer (not even a particular person/company, just someone who hires people in general) and find out the sort of things that they would look for in an applicant’s portfolio (and maybe even show them mine to get comments about what is and what isn’t working).
Knowing that, I would be able to more effectively draft and revise my ePortfolio. I would have a better idea of how to initially construct my pages for coming projects, and how I might change my re-purposing project’s page to make it more appealing for my audience.
It’s easier to draft and revise when there’s a goal in mind. If I end up changing my mind and deciding to address a different audience with my ePortfolio, great. I can fix things up from there. But for now, I think it makes sense to adjust my design and my content to suit the audience I have in mind. I love writing for the sake of writing, but I would also like to use the skills I’m learning in the minor in my professional life. I’d like to get into a field where writing is important and I can continue to improve, so the ePortfolio is a really crucial project. If I continue to rework my pieces and figure out how to present them well, I just might be able to make that professional dream possible.