Me, Myself & I…As a Writer

Today in class we free wrote for 21 minutes about how we characterize our writing, how our projects reveal something about us as writers and what we still do not know about ourselves about writers. It’s hard to characterize my writing at its best. Pinpointing one or even a few words to describe my writing was a bit of a challenge for me. However, I think my best writing happens after revisions. Although I think it is extremely important to spend time and put thought into a first draft, most of my magic occurs during my revision process. When I first start writing I try and get as many thoughts as possible out and then usually I will revisit my piece in about a day. Typically, a new thought or idea will come to me before I revisit my work which aids me in my revision process.

564836_orig

In terms of structure, my best writing is grammatically correct, with a wide use of vocabulary. I find that my best writing is also the writing I am most interested and engaged with. My best writing takes time. Something that frustrates me is that most of my best writing takes time. However, over the years I have learned to embrace it.

My hope is that my project will reveal my strong interest in writing about fashion. Fashion is something that I have been passionate about for many years and I hope that can be seen through my project. It is important to me that my voice can be heard through out my project.

I think there is a lot I don’t know about myself as a writer. As I tried to describe my “best writing” I had trouble coming up with stylistic characteristics. I was able to explain how I wrote my best work, but could characterize my final pieces. I feel as if we characterize writers all the time, they are humorous and convincing, informative but satirical, etc. I do not know how I would characterize myself. However, I think part of this stems from the fact that the past 16 years most of my writing has been assigned for school purposes. Although I have written pieces outside of school assignments I do not know if I have written enough to characterize my writing into a specific genre.

Further, I love writing about fashion, but have also considered that I may want to write about other topics moving forward. I don’t know a lot of things…but that is half the fun. Writing is an evolution and I don’t see my evolution ending any time soon.

Myself as a Writer: Reflection

Today in class, we had discussed different aspects of writing/writers relative to ourselves. Who are we as writers? What are we missing? It’s easy to get tangled up in a surface level identity as a writer. For me, I’ve always written very casually and a bit sarcastically, typically relative to everyday life. Think of more of an advice column, minus all the credentials actually necessary to have such a column. I had thought I had my own identity as a writer, but after reflection today, began to second guess my writer identity.

The first question that Shelley asked us was, “what characterizes your writing at its best?” To that, I simply responded with what writing I did best–conversational, humorous, light-hearted. Yet, began to later reflect how that may not necessarily be my best writing, but what comes most naturally to me. Later, she followed up with the question, “what do you still not know about yourself as a writer?” That’s where the real thinking set in. I found myself juxtaposing my previous answer to the earlier question, thinking about I don’t truly know myself relative to genre. What I mean by this is, I’ve always stuck to the same genre–maybe by habit, maybe I just liked that genre the best. But as my interests began to change, suddenly, my curiosity and exploration within writing did as well. As I began to seek out career opportunities post graduation, I found myself truly wondering if writing is something I could continue to do as a career. Unconsciously, I was limiting the world of writing to one specific, normalized genre for myself.

giphy

As I think about what I still don’t know about myself as a writer, I find myself questioning what other types of writing intrigue me. That’s where my final project comes into play. I’ve always been interested in food, but had never ventured to write about it. I was constraining genres without even realizing. And so, this project will truly reveal something about myself as a writer. While I am still targeting a similar audience to my previous works–always preferring to attract a similar-aged audience as myself, finding it easier to relate and express particular ideas–I am attempting to try out a new category. This project is like a trial run, but one I think will reinvent my love with writing as a whole.

I first became infatuated with extremely conversational writing, but over time, began to limit myself to a particular niche. Today’s discussion, along with heading in a different direction with my final project, allows for a greater exploration into the writing realm.

Life Causes Cancer-Discussion

a-cup-of-coffee

As I browsed through the articles on Lucky Peach, my eyes were drawn to the article, “Life Causes Cancer.” At first I was a little thrown off… was this going to be another article warning the public about the endless number of foods that cause cancer? It seems like there is constantly findings about another thing that may cause cancer. However, this article was different.

 

Focusing on the chemical acrylamide, the article outlines what it does and the harm it can cause to your body. BUT, it also addresses the fact that life in general can cause cancer. Food causes cancer. The sun causes cancer. Air causes cancer. The author reminds readers that all of these things are a warning to us that life is short and that we should enjoy every minute. I liked this article because of its bluntness and the message it leaves readers with. I think it applies to the minor, because the author takes what could be a simple topic and tells a story through it. The article digs deeper, finding meaning in what could be a simply factual article about chemicals in food that cause cancer. I think that this type of writing fits very well in the writing minor, especially to our projects.

 

As you read the article take note of your initial reaction to the article. Think about if/how you changed your behavior. Some other questions to consider:

Where are you from? Do you think this influences your perspective on this article?

Does the author’s personal experience with the carcinogen change your perspective on the risk associated with cooked foods?

Do you think the title is effective?

Do you think the writing style of this article is effective? What do you admire about his writing style?

What stylistic elements does the author use that you could incorporate into your own project?

Focus Point

I met with a faculty member this past week to discuss my one-act. I found that it was nice to talk with someone who didn’t know about the final capstone project because doing so forced me to articulate my project and what I was planning on accomplishing. After hearing what I was envisioning, my faculty mentor suggested two things: that I narrow down even further the question I was trying to answer, and that I possibly include myself in my one-act as a character. I have been thinking about both of these suggestions and definitely know that I agree with the first. I have been planning on writing my one-act about choices; how we make them, why we make them, and what choices align with or go against the “authentic self.” However, I was advised to go further into the kinds of choices I want to analyze. Career? Relationships? Hair Length? I admit that I am really struggling with this. I suspected that I would start my interviews and carve a path from there but now I just feel a bit more lost than before…

That’s good news, right?

I have also been thinking about the second suggestion he had for me, to incorporate myself into the script. I like this idea because it would allow me to control some of the script before the interviews and would allow me to incorporate some elements of fiction as well. This week I am meeting with another professor who is the current playwright in residence and I am hoping he will point me in a direction that will hopefully give me some clarity as to where I am headed. Ultimately, I cannot forget that I went into this project with the goal of writing something that I would want to be in, and something that actors in my age range could perform. I hope reminding myself of these two goals will bring me back to a more narrow point of focus.

Looking forward to this next week, I plan to:

  1. Meet with Larry Harbison
  2. Brainstorm, keeping in mind my goals- what do I want to be in?
  3. Read more plays/one acts
  4. Narrow down questions I plan to ask
  5. WRITE

The Year in Fungi- Class Discussion

Twilley-The-Year-in-Fungi-690

I don’t find fungi all that interesting. When I was a kid, I enjoyed killing mushrooms by pouring dish soap on top of them, and now as an “adult,” I enjoy eating sautéed mushrooms; other than that, the organism does not really peak my interest. That was until I read Nicola Twilley’s article The Year in Fungi. The title itself caught my attention, and the article’s tone had me laughing the entire time. Twilley was able to take something as boring as fungi and write about it in a way that was so interesting and relatable. I was laughing not only at her puns (I’m a sucker for puns), but also at her serious tone around the subject. She was able to write about something so boring to most, and make it relevant and fascinating.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 12.13.12 PM *My favorite pun- clearly it’s really easy to make me laugh

I have to admit; I didn’t understand the entire article. There were terms used regarding fungi that I am not familiar with, yet I feel I still got the gist of the article. This is exactly how science writing is supposed to be. The reader doesn’t need to understand all of the terminology, but should feel like they have learned something after reading the article.

Although the science writing aspect isn’t relatable to everyone’s capstone projects, I do think this article has some qualities that are important for everyone. We each are doing a project that is interesting to us, but may seem boring to others. What makes excellent writing is the ability to make a boring subject interesting to the reader. I think this article does an excellent job with that. This is something we should all be challenging ourselves to do with our own projects.

Spring Break and Project Updates

Hi everyone!

I’m pretty certain that (almost) nobody is following the blog right now, seeing as it is “Spring” Break. That’s alright, because some of you may see this post when you return!

I decided to stay in Ann Arbor for the break, mostly because I am not made of money for travelling and because exactly a week from today I will be taking an audition for the Tuba substitute list with the New World Symphony Orchestra. So, I needed to make sure I had adequate time to practice — not to mention the fact that it is ridiculously easy to snag the performance halls in the Moore Building if I want to record things (which I have begun doing for my project!). I also live in Florida, so the idea of returning either home or to some other tropical destination is not that appealing…this happens when one grows up in a tourist state/region. I much prefer the gentle snow that we are currently getting here!

Anyway, I hope you are all having wonderful vacations. Personally, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. It has been quite lovely. But, I’ve also had tons of time to work on my Capstone Project! So far, here’s what I have accomplished:

  • I am over halfway through the completion of my poetry journal.
  • I have composed two pieces of music, one for each week that I have written poems for, and have recorded the first of them.
  • I have gathered about 17 pages worth of quotes/research from various books (mostly related to the relationship between poetry and music) that I have checked out from the library or purchased, and am close to formulating a solid goal with the prose I plan to write. All that remains is to delve more into the psychology/physiology/emotions of being a practicing musician, and then I should be ready to start writing (if I don’t decide to just begin getting ideas down soon, which is actually more likely then it would seem to be).

I’m pretty happy with where I am, especially considering that I’ve been able to complete some other, non-project-related tasks in the interim hours. I finally feel like I’m set on course and know what I’m going to do (except for the prose element, which I’m still working on mentally).

I wish you all a relaxing reminder of this break, and I hope that everyone comes back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the semester! Good luck 🙂

-Evan