Minor in Writing: A Proper Noun

Enrolling in my first, gateway course to pursue my minor in writing at the University of Michigan molded a unique experience that I never expected.

During interviews, people ask me, ‘tell me about yourself’ and to ‘walk me through your resume.’  I scan through my few years as an undergraduate at college: my accomplishments from before, my projects right now, and my goals in the future. ‘I am pursuing a minor in writing because you learn how to tell a story. You learn how to convey meaning, so that the customer understands. Because you need to empathise with the customer; you need to know how the customer can feel and understand something in the same way that you do,’ I tell my interviewers. I still hold true to this. I still believe this is one correct way to interpret writing and transfer it to my career aspirations for marketing and communication for life, in general.

I came in with the assumption that I would be working on a ‘professional’ and ‘formal’ piece. ‘What is the minor in writing,’ people would ask, ‘what kind of writing do you do?’ In September, I told them that my focus was in formal writing, ‘like essays and research.’ By the end of October, my answer flipped into creative writing. That, precisely, is my growth pattern whilst enrolled in my Minor in Writing Gateway course. I always advertise myself as a ‘generalist’: someone who holds many curiosities and interests, many abilities and backgrounds, and wishes to apply it in every corner of their life. But, my refusal–my fear–to stray away from formal writing contradicted that very philosophy. This course inspired absolute free-thought and wild creativity, that many other courses would frame as a deviation from institutional formulas and their structured checklists. And that is where the takeaway, growth message derives.

I learned how to not conform to my and others’ historical successes–to not limit myself from taking new risks.

My final experiment was a prologue to a novel, which is something I never expected to start entering the course. But, that is precisely the lesson. I tried something new and, consequently, expanded my writing expertise on the more creative side of writing. This, I think, is the true ‘storytelling,’ that I always mention during my interviews and when people ask me about my minor in writing. I grew as a writer, in these past three months, as I took the uncomfortable risk of writing a prologue to a novel (in the style of collection of vignettes, which is also newfound to me), for the first time. My expanded progressiveness toward risk-taking is the very strength that I am excited to expand as my Capstone course approaches, thus concluding my Minor in Writing experience.

What I find even more phenomenal, though, is that this project is incomplete, in a sense. I have ideas bouncing in my head; sometimes it is the only thing I think about, as I walk to-and-fro between my class meetings. I adore this passion that I have nurtured through this course, along with hearing the many stories that fellow classmates have composed, too. Now, I understand why the ‘Minor in Writing’ is capitalised as a proper noun: it is, truly, a unique experience, inimitable in any other course at my university.

As my graduation approaches closer with each passing day, I eagerly look forward to expanding this prologue into a full-fledged chapter for my novel.


To Tommy and Alex, the two narrators in my novel’s plot: see you again in Fall 2019!



Final ePortfolio for the Minor in Writing: https://alexpan71.wixsite.com/alexpan

Leave a Reply