Sketch Draft and Intro Workshop Review

  1. The most helpful component of the blog group workshop was to see if what I thought I was doing with my writing was actually what my writing was doing. Since my genre is immersive journalism and I have only written very little in this genre previously, it was especially helpful for me to see that my attempt at mimicking the immersive journalism genre was effective. Also, though my draft was rather primitive, the workshop was helpful for me to see if my group members could follow the path I intended to take with my writing. Did I effectively convey what I wanted to focus on without overstating it or understanding it?
  2. After the workshop, I am feeling much better about the workshop. Although I thought my draft was pretty bad, my blog group members were very supportive of what I had written and were encouraging about moving forward. This can only mean positive things to come!
  3. Research will continue to take a number of forms for my project. Specially, research will be utilized in three ways. First, I am going on a rock climbing trip to interview some friends in March. This event will make up a large part of the body of the finished project. Second, I need to continue to hash out scientific content. I have a lot done already, but this will continue up until the project is due. Third, I need more genre inspiration. I need to learn how to incorporate multiple personas and events into a single cohesive piece of writing. Reading similar immersive journalism pieces will help. Right now I need to also finish the following books (that is what spring break is for!): Into the Wild, Alone on the Wall, and Backpacking with the Saints.
  4. In order to reach a complete working draft, I will need to meet the research goals above. I also need to write the stories of my experiences. This is something I can do ahead of time and will modify them and fit them to the theme later. Obviously I cant do that with the climbing trip yet though. In addition to research and writing, I will need to learn how to better use the software that I am relying on to mimic The New Yorker. Specifically, I need to learn how to change and add photos
This is where the climbing trip will occur! I hope to take many cool pictures  here myself.
This is where the climbing trip will occur! I hope to take many cool pictures here myself.

Monday’s Workshop

I have had a pretty solid idea of what I would like to accomplish for my capstone project for a while now.  I am making a website, which I hope can be used as a resource for non-scientists who want to learn more about science, specifically medicine.  I was confident going in to this workshop, because even though I hadn’t done any of my interviews yet, I had designed my website exactly the way I imagined it.  But what I had in mind maybe wasn’t as clear to anyone else.

My group has given me some great ideas with every workshop, this one included.  They asked questions about my website that I hadn’t even considered.  To me, what seemed to be laid out right on the screen, was maybe not as easy to interpret to anyone else.  They gave me advice on what to change within some of the subheadings of my page, and let me know what more they would want from a site such as this.  Additionally, Cameron gave me a great resource to look at: http://www.natechertack.com/medicine/  I forgot the whole story behind the website, but this page in particular gives definitions to a lot of medical terminology, which is similar to something I would like to include in my website.

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Website url: http://kvbayne.wix.com/sciencecommunication

I am feeling a little conflicted at this point of my project.  I have a lot of ideas of what I would like it to be, but have realized I am going to have to part ways with some of my ideas.  What I need to do is sit down and solidify a game plan for the rest of my project, so I can shape my project around what I find.  Specifically, I need to conduct my first few interviews to decide what their exact purpose will be in my final project.  I feel better about my progress with my project after the workshop, but I still know I have a long way to go.

After I actually speak to the scientists I am going to interview, I need to work on the theme throughout the website.  Not in a design way, but I need to adjust my tone and style of writing to fit the audience I am trying to target.  The first thing I need to do that is adjust the title of my website.  Currently, it is called Science Communication; however, I don’t think it explains what I really want the website to be used for.  I will be working on this until I set up interviews with people.  My website doesn’t seem like much now, but I think once I finish up my interviews, everything will start falling into place!  (Fingers crossed this is the case!)

 

Peer Review of Early Capstone Project Draft

Just as a reminder: my project is comparing the lives of first generation college students and continuing generation college students focusing on all class levels from freshmen to seniors. I am doing this through a series of long form interviews. My final product will be a website to house all of these interviews.

It’s good that we had to do a mock up and write up an introduction for our project. In my mind, I planned to create my website ahead of time, so I could plug all my interviews in when I had them instead of worrying about aesthetics. In the process of creating my mock up out of rectangles and squares in Word, I wanted something more tangible, so I went ahead and created my website.

This step alone made me feel good coming into workshop. I actually had something tangible after all of the brainstorming we’ve done in class. After hearing my peers’ feedback from seeing the actual website was even better because they enjoyed the layout. It was helpful to hear some idea’s about what I could do with my website like hovering over a person’s image and seeing one of their quotes. Unfortunately, I don’t think Wix has this capability. I didn’t send out my link to my peers yet, but I think that would’ve been helpful for them to have it in front of them, so they could give me feedback on the user interface.

I think the biggest role that research will come into my rough draft is inspiration (I have some good models). There are so many beautifully created websites, and I might see something I like even more than my current design.

The biggest next step to making this into a complete working draft will be conducting interviews because then I will have even more tangible stuff to work with!! Having this website created made me want to go ahead and conduct interviews instead of waiting until after break. I am actually meeting up with a few people before spring break!

I’m happy with how everything is coming along so far.

Blogging About Draft

I found that talking to my blog group about my draft thus far helped with pinpointing the voice and overall language I want to incorporate into my project. When writing the draft itself, I was ‘iffy’ about how the language would work. I prefer writing in a conversational and even humorous tone, and was hoping to somehow incorporate that into my food blog as well. I found that my blog group, and further–my audience as college students, appreciated that language and informed me that it was a fun read, rather than something that went on for decades. Since there are many food blogs out there, I think that highlighting my specific purpose and targeting my particular audience through language will be an important factor–and I am glad I was able to do a language test run with my blog group.

Writing the introduction for my project definitely made everything seem more real. Yes, I’ve been thinking about the project a lot, but this was my first step and constructing something that will actually be featured within the blog itself. Since writing the introduction, I have become increasingly motivated to continuously work on the blog–even getting distracted in my other classes by playing around with format. I’m feeling excited to continuous to experiment with different layouts and designs, along with adding addition content.

At this point, the most appropriate role of further research is really design–which are my next steps as well. I’ve already found myself starting from scratch, and finding it difficult to work with pre-designed layouts on Wix, which is the site I chose to create my blog from (I’m a big team Wix advocate ever since using it for my e-port in the gateway). And so, I’ve started over, rearranged, and am ultimately trying to research what the best ways to digitally design the site as a whole. Looking at other models along with experimenting with different designs has helped aid the technical process as whole, which I plan to continue.

As for my introduction itself, I think it was helpful to narrow down the language with my blog group and see what works and what doesn’t. Originally, I was a bit confused with the assignment because I wasn’t sure if this introduction was for the class or for our audience, so I attempted to address both. My next steps with cleaning this up will be eliminating the class components and addressing the audience more widely.

 

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State of the project

So…

I’ve had a change of heart. I was planning on making a handbook for all types of emergency situations and maybe including anecdotes, but when I actually tried writing it out, I kept getting stuck. It didn’t feel like my project; it just felt like a regurgitation of facts I’ve learned. I obviously don’t have particular stories for each and every one of the situations, so it felt like I wasn’t getting out of this project what I wanted to. I wanted this project to allow me to be creative but also to educate on how to handle emergency situations without being overbearing…and that’s exactly what my original plan felt like.

When I realized this, I panicked because I wasn’t sure how to spin the project to this new vision. After sporadic brainstorming throughout the day, I’ve decided to make it more of a creative story with different outcomes depending on what the reader decides to do (like a CYOA book). I think it sort of masks the fact that the book is educational while also being entertaining (if I can execute it properly, of course).

Anyway, I’ve created a new DETAILED outline with all the different options/paths, and I am exciting to begin actually writing it all out. I plan on drawing from actual experiences I had when I was interning in the ambulances.

All that needs to be done is the actual putting-together-writing part…

The inherent hostility…

The research for this essay continues to surprise me…in the way that I think there might not be an exact “answer” to my question, “can you write about yourself and others ethically, ‘respectfully?” Because… I don’t think you can. My parents, upon discovering my art, reacted with anger and pain, asking my why I wanted to make malicious art, why I wanted to make art that hurt others. I was so shocked and guilt-ridden by their reaction, that I think I wanted this research, and this essay, to show me a way to still use writing and art to process my experiences, while also paying attention to my parents’ feelings. Reading an article about Alison Bechdel and her graphic novel Fun Home, the last passage of her interview stuck out to me:

I do feel that I robbed my mother in writing this book. I thought I had her tacit permission to tell the story, but in fact I never asked for it, and she never gave it to me. Now I know that no matter how responsible you try to be in writing about another person, there’s something inherently hostile in the act. You’re violating their subjectivity. I thought I could write about my family without hurting anyone, but I was wrong. I probably will do it again. And that’s just an uncomfortable fact about myself that I have to live with.

While learning that Bechdel also is confronting these same issues of privacy and respect in her work that I am was comforting, it was also slightly unsettling to learn that she has just sort of accepted the fact that she can’t make work about her family without hurting anyone. Of course, this isn’t the final conclusion I’ve come to. I’ve got to dig deeper, and find more writers/artists experiences, to develop this “answer” even further.

New Project II

I’ve decided to change my idea completely, and now I’m going to write a researched-based new journalism style essay, exploring what it means to make writing and art about yourself, your family, and very intimate aspects of everyday life and your relationships. My source material is project I, the “Why I Write” essay. This essay focused on my parents’ recent discovery of my work online, which was partly about my relationship with them. They were pretty upset and angry about the content, and the fact that they were public. In project I, I questioned “why I write” in relation to the sometimes-negative consequences of my subject matter, and began to question how to write ethically.

For project II, I want to take what I began questioning, and come to a more definitive conclusion about how to write and make art about others, without censoring yourself but while also respecting those in your writing. I will look at my own experience with my parents and how our relationship has shifted over the past month after they found my work, but also at some research about other writers and artists who write about their lives, such as David Sedaris, Phoebe Gloeckner, Alison Bechdel, and Tracey Emin.

New Perspectives and Next Steps

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I don’t even watch Game of Thrones but related to this on a personal level.

Overall, the most helpful part of workshop might have been just getting my questions out there. When I’m in the brianstorming process, I tend to over-think my ideas or instantly shut them down. With this project, I’m trying really hard to accept some ideas that I might think nobody would ever be interested in, hoping to must myself the extra mile and make something ordinary interesting to read. I was able to ask my peers if they had any ideas relating to college that they thought I should cover,  which turned out to be very helpful. It was also reassuring just to have the project in general reaffirmed, since I’ve been bouncing back and forth with it so much lately.

When I came into workshop, I kind of assumed everyone would hate the idea and that I would end up taking it in a different direction. Now, I am much more confident. I think sometimes writers don’t give themselves enough credit, especially when it comes to brainstorming. After getting some suggestions on what works well and what could be shifted, I am eager to get started actually writing and designing.

Actual photo of me attempting to tackle the next steps of this project.
Actual photo of me attempting to tackle the next steps of this project.

To get to my complete rough draft, I now need to get some more outside perspective. I need to speak with peers to get a broader range of ideas when it comes to college experiences, and I also need to reach out to a mentor to add a bit of expertise to the mix. Over break, I’m going to try to read as much humor memoirs and zines that I can in order to become more familiar with these mediums and their respective tones. I also need to figure out how I’m going to house my project in a digital format, which shouldn’t be too difficult (I hope).

While all of this is going on, a big step is just to sit down and write. I often get so caught up in whether my writing is going to be “good enoguh” that I never start. A huge step will be accepting that not everything I write is going to be perfect at first, and that it will probably never be perfect even after revisions; the point is that I just get something down on paper, however rough it may be. Talking with my blog group helped me narrow down exactly what steps I need to take next, which helped set a concrete foundation of what I need to do over break and beyond.

“To Write a Great Essay” Discussion Questions

This week’s article is “To Write a Great Essay, Think and Care Deeply” by Jow Fassley, published in The Atlantic. It’s kind of a book review, but don’t worry about getting too caught up on just Lucas Mann’s piece itself – a lot of the lessons about nonfiction writing from the piece can be relevant to our own projects as well.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Can you think of a time that you wrote/read a memoir or piece of personal nonfiction that bored you? What do you think made it boring?
  • What tips for nonfiction writing stood out to you?
  • Looking at the examples from Mann’s piece, what did you notice that he did well to make his personal, everyday story intriguing? (If you don’t think it’s intriguing, why?)
  • Mann says that, when he writes personal essays, he extends beyond asking “What makes you think that you have something interesting to say?” into, “What makes you think you could possibly have something interesting to say about the petty circumstances of your own life and interests?” Freewrite something mundane that you did/saw/talked about/whatever in the past few days and use the tips that we talked about to make it interesting for a broad audience.

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Project II in the Making

After many hours of watching (and laughing at) commencement speeches from the past fifty years, I have finally decided on the sources, moreover, the commencement speakers I am going to focus on for Project II. My main theme I am writing about is how to write the best commencement speech. For as long as I can remember, I have loved public speaking. Being selected to give my high school class commencement speech was an honor and since then my love for public speaking has grown.

As of now, I have a very rough draft of my project completed. I have compiled five key points I believe every commencement speaker should include in their address, going off of both personal experience and everything I saw in the videos of the speakers. After each point, I have several paragraphs to explain how and why these should be incorporated into an address, with examples from scripts of speakers I found to be particularly moving. I have formatted my project to fit an Op-Ed article in The Huffington Post.

As I move forward with this project, I am mainly going to focus on making sure the paragraphs flow together nicely while keeping much of my own voice in my writing. Though it is an Op-Ed article, I want to make sure that my piece is something that The Huffington Post would actually publish in terms of sentence structures and word choice.

Overall, Project II is going well for me. I believe I have a solid foundation and am already starting to brainstorm ideas of how I will transform my piece into Project III. Over Spring Break I am going to continue editing what I have thus far and incorporate ideas that my workshop group members have suggested. Also, I will revise my Annotated Bibliography and begin work on the Making of Project II assignment. I am excited to finalize my project!