A Little Work Done, A Lot Of Work To Go…

I have had pretty good success with my Project II thus far. I haven’t really had any mishaps per say and things have went pretty smoothly for what I have done. I am pretty much done with a majority of the research that I will probably do for the project. So far I have been able to plan out what I am going to write for most of the project and have a rough outline of where I am headed. I have also written around 3,300 words or around 5 ½ pages of the project thus far but have yet to really edit any of it. So even though those parts are written that isn’t saying a lot as I will probably need to significantly change some (or lots) of what has been done. Also I have pieced those pieces together over quite a period of time so I don’t know if the tone is consistent or even the tone for which I am aiming. Also I am worried about the length as I don’t know whether what I am writing is too long or not.

It may seem that I am ahead of the game with what I have done but really I am not. The only reason I am this far is because I have put off doing things which are now very pressing (like two exams later this week) so all progress has pretty much stopped now and won’t pick up until spring break.

I have enjoyed the experience writing thus far though and it has been pretty fun. Unlike normally in writing I don’t have to tone down any sarcasm or sass that I may want to put in the writing. Sometimes I can even lay it on a little heavier than I would normally which is a lot of fun.

So I still have a lot of writing and editing to do before this project is even close to being complete. Although I am happy that I have completed a significant piece of it so far as it will make moving forward a lot more manageable.

My Project II Update

The good news is that I’ve finally decided on my topic.

I went back and forth between writing a fake column about domestic violence issues in sports and writing a personal narrative that revised my Common App essay. I’ve finally settled on the latter topic. I think writing the sports column would’ve been “the easy way out” for a lack of a better phrase. I’m much more excited to challenge myself and go outside my comfort zone by writing a personal story about the experience of watching my brother go through chemotherapy (and thankfully come out of it healthy).

I got a bit of a late start to the project since I was so indecisive on settling with a topic. Since then, though, I’ve made a lot of progress. I found the publication I will use for repurposing (The New York Times Magazine’s Lives section). I’ve also compiled a lot of examples to use as references, since this type of writing is pretty foreign to me. I don’t think I’ve written something this personal since the original Common App essay I’m repurposing.

In the coming days I plan on talking to my brother and dad to get their perspectives on how this experience shaped me. From there I’m going to start my first draft, which I think will dig a lot deeper into the impact my brother’s struggle had on me, especially because I’ve encountered a lot more “real life” issues at college than I had in high school (in the original essay, I wrote about some pretty trivial things like my experience on the varsity soccer team).

Once I get home for spring break, I want to compile some photos that I could use to recreate a magazine-type feel to my project.

It’s going to be tough to take on a new form of writing that I’m not used to, but I think the challenge will really help me grow as a writer. I’m looking forward to it.

On to the fun part!

After deeply researching about the rising movement of Slow Fashion, I have learned an immense amount about how much has changed since the last time that I explored this topic in 2012. There are so many popular brands that have begun to become more sustainable, and reading about the changes they are making got me extremely excited to educate Michigan students on this “eco-friendly” trend.

So far, my project is still in its “planning” and “outlining” stages as I have roughly decided how I want to organize my SHIFT issue. I am planning to begin the magazine with various student interviews. However, I am struggling to begin the writing process itself because I am unsure about what it is I want to ask the students. I know that my main goal is to discover whether or not they are educated on the Slow Fashion Movement, what their routines and habits are in terms of consumption, and how willing they would be to make changes in how they consume clothing. But I am unsure on what questions I specifically want to ask to find these answers out.

Following the student interviews, I want to include an informative piece about why the current pace of fashion is harmful to workers and the environment as well as why Slow Fashion is the only solution to this problem. Then, I am planning to include a few articles about popular brands that college students can shop at to stay “fashionable” and “sustainable”. The two brands that have intrigued me the most in my research have been Zady and Reformation.

Once I complete the interview process, I will have all of the information that I need to complete this digital magazine. It is just the putting it all together that needs to happen (aka, the fun part)!

 

Project II Update

So there’s some good news & some bad news: I’ve narrowed down my project focus, but I’m having a hard time actually seeing my vision through.

I started working on the introductory stories, and general info introduction pieces for my recipe anthology, and I also have selected the recipes I’m going to write up.  As I got writing, I realized that this needed to be a little more focused, so I decided to scrap my original idea of including stories from other people to accompany some of the recipes.  I thought this would make a really interesting read, but the more I wrote myself & the more I thought about it, I realized it could just end up looking like it lacked a direction.  I’m not quite sure exactly the point I’m trying to go for including stories anyways (besides making it an interesting read to accompany some recipes tailored to college students), so I think adding stories from other people would just add to the confusion.  Using my own stories and anecdotes will also help me to focus in more on the writing and spend less time curating stories from friends that would be worthwhile to include.  I’m thinking I might include the aspect of other peoples’ stories for project 3.

That all being said, I’m still finding it difficult to see a clear end goal for what exactly this will look like.  I’ve been writing the intro, but I have multiple different sections ranging from my own personal journey with food, to the scientific reasons evolutionary biologists believe we have evolved to cook. I think my project is evolving into a easy to follow how-to cookbook with fun stories inside (which I intended it to be), but I think I’m just confusing myself because I can’t yet see a clear end goal.  I usually always have an end goal in the form of an explicit assignment so I think the fact that I’m allowing myself to kind of just write & see how it plays out is making me nervous.

Not yet a terrible draft

I have a clear focus and goal for my project. I know what I want to do, I’m just having a really hard time doing it. I’ve read several reviews, and I’ve gotten inspired, but every time I sit down to write something of my own, I don’t know where to start.

To remind you all, I’m writing a review of sorts on the novel If on a winter’s night a traveler, by Italo Calvino. At first, I wanted it to be a commentary on postmodernism (the style in which the book is written), but after reading many academic sources, trying to understand this concept, I realized that I did not want to tackle something so theoretical and big. So I’ve moved away from postmodernism and related theories, and I’m focusing more on the book itself.

I want to convince you to read it.

After reading some reviews, by the likes of David Mitchell and Salman Rushdie, to name a few, I’ve become more inclined to write about my own reading experience. I want to use myself as a lens through which you all can see this book. I also want to include the commentary of different reviewers or authors, as that is something that I’ve seen done repeatedly in this genre. As I was reading these pieces, I agreed and disagreed with certain points, and I want to clarify or expand on some of the claims that other reviewers have made.

I have a lot of goals, but I can’t exactly put my finger on a final vision. I think I need to write down a terrible, terrible draft, and then go from there. I’m getting caught up in writing paragraphs that “don’t sound good,” but I need to focus on getting the content smoothed out before I worry about its presentation.

This is harder than I thought.

 

It’s All Good Fam

The research and preliminary drafts are going really well. The list of able-bodied privileges is growing as I walk around in the world each day and remember what it was like when I couldn’t walk. The research is also pretty good since my main two sources will be the lists by McIntosh and Johnson that I’m modeling my list after.

Right now, I’m working on how much background to put in before I jump into the list. I’m not really sure how much is too much or too little. I also don’t know how to differentiate what I have to say about privilege from what sociology scholars have already said about it. I don’t know how much of what I say should be cited back to other scholars, versus what should be what I have to say.

Other than that, I like the direction my project is going in, and I’m excited to get more feedback and to keep working on it.

Evolution of Project II

After finally settling on a topic that I was excited about, I figured that I would be “over the hump” and onto more easy and more fun tasks.

I was wrong.

I am still excited about my idea, and I am making progress, but slowly. Over the weekend, I worked on background research to form a basis for my project. I found information about what our society values and am planning to use that to better define what “good” means in respect to the what students feel is the “right” path of study (i.e. degrees in business or going pre-med). I also found statistics illustrating that a lot of students are studying things they do not want to be studying. The trends that have encouraged this (beyond our cultural values) have been poor economic conditions and a soft job market.

All of this has helped me to formulate interview questions. Originally I wanted to do many interviews for kids, college students, and adults, but at this point I am thinking quality over quantity is more important – I do not want my article to turn into a collection of quotes. So I am going to need to make sure that I carefully select interviewees.

I am having a hard time pulling all of my ideas for my project together into a unified idea that “feels right.” I am hoping that once I have had more time to dedicate to the project (probably over break), I can pull everything together.

“That Person”

Shelley often brings up “that person” from her previous gateway and capstone courses, the student, each semester, that overhauls their entire project midway through. She says this not to freak us out, but rather to reassure us that it’s completely okay if we have a change of heart midway through the project. I never thought I would be “that person” but there I sat in workshop today, listening to my peers give feedback to a project very similar to mine, re-evaluating the choices I had made so far.

Here is what my mock-up looked like before workshop today:

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 8.00.37 PM

Through meetings with my mentor, a professor in the Communication Studies department specializing in journalism, and with Shelley and my blog group, I came to the realization that a journalistic style may not be the best fit for my topic. My mentor said that for something to be considered “journalistic” it had to take a unique angle on a topic and find something newsworthy and important. I was seriously stretching to find something especially current about yoga, mindfulness, college experiences, and my personal experience. My introduction naturally took more of a narrative style, which leads me to believe that may be a more realistic avenue to pursue. In class today, my blog group was supportive of that idea. They feel as if my passion for the topic would best come through if I really put my agency and experiences in it like a narrative, rather than taking myself out of the piece like in a journalistic piece.

It also helped to hear my peers’ feedback on Cameron’s project. Our topics are fairly similar, both revolving around health and our personal experiences with an active practice. The language and tone his piece took on inspired me, and I valued the advice he was given on where best to introduce the “importance” or “what now” of his piece.

Moving forward, I first want to meet with Shelley and clarify my ideas. I know I’m not completely re-hauling my project, but I am admittedly very type-A and feel like I can’t move forward until I’ve made certain decisions with clarity. Then, I may need to read some personal narratives as research and decide on the best platform/audience based on my new genre. I think that I should also revisit my previous research to see what I can take away from it and apply to my new ideas. Finally, I will need to rethink the structure and content of my piece.

What I am still struggling with, even after talking it over with my blog group, is finding my purpose for writing, why it’s important to me and why I feel like now is the right time to write it. Any feedback, seriously, about yoga, why it’s important to you, why it’s relevant now, and the challenges and benefits of mindfulness, would be much welcomed and appreciated.

 

Trying

It is usually at this point in the process that I will have outlined a draft or made notecards full of research. I have not. Due to a series of reasons including group projects, research projects, and other deadlines, I have not been able to sit down and work continuously on my project since Thursday. Thankfully, I got most of the technical research done last week. I pretty thoroughly researched the Chinese zodiac and have pre-existing research on the origins of Western astrological practices like natal charts. Rather optimistically, my plan for this past weekend was to have written at least half of my research framework down.

Clearly, this did not occur despite how hard I tried to remain efficient. I even went to North campus in an attempt to remain focused by secluding myself in the Dude and feeding off of other people’s productivity.

One thing that I did manage to do was write down and remember a bunch of personal experiences that I wanted to include in my paper. Because I’m so superstitious, I have a superstition that if I say certain superstitions out loud, they will no longer work (like birthday cake wishes). My mom would also not appreciate me revealing some of her own beliefs, lest they lose their efficacy. Therefore, I’ve had to dig deep to find nonoffensive stories that relate to large groups of people.

I think that I really need to get an outline going. Currently, I have a lot of loose ideas floating around. The strange combination of personal essay elements and research elements is a new experience. For me, writing creative non-fiction and writing academic and/or research essays are two very different processes. I’m currently wondering whether I should attempt to weave the research together with the personal parts or if I should separate them as Leslie Jamison did in “The Devil’s Bait.” I’m leaning towards Leslie Jamison right now.

Of course, we won’t know until I actually do it, will we?

 

 

Project II Update

My Project II is rather mediocre right now. I don’t think I’m doing a good job of making my tweets into something that anyone would care about. I’ve written a couple memoirs based on them so far and I think it’s all junk if I’m being honest.

Also my Google Docs doesn’t have the font Harper’s uses in their publication which is where I do all of my writing so that’s been a little bit of a setback.

Right now I have about 4 more memoirs to write but I’m keeping them rather short so I don’t think it’ll take very long. I’m in a little bit of a slump right now. I’m really uninspired and it’s been hard for me to write anything I deem of value but then again, I’m really way too hard on my own writing.

I think once I get home for break I’ll be able to clear my head and produce something I think is of value.

I think revising the “Why I Write” piece as many times as I did has put my head in a weird place.

I think I’ll get over it.