Reflections on Pitching

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to work on for my capstone when I sat down on the first day of class last week. I’d just spent the second half of the fall semester working on an immersive essay about Detroit’s Jewish community, and I still felt like I’d barely scratched the surface of a topic that was incredibly important to me. Capstone seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand on my research and incorporate as many perspectives and as much history and nuance as possible.

But then at the end of class on that first day, T asked us to write a few things we were interested, passionate, or curious about on an index card. I paused when I reached that question, and then wrote down some topics that have been at the forefront of my mind recently: cooking (I’ve been trying to find a new hobby and build life skills), letters (I’m taking an English class about the art of letter writing), and my grandma (in preparation for my letter-writing class, my dad had recently unearthed a stack of my grandma’s old correspondences for me). Immediately a new idea emerged — what if I worked through my grandma’s recipes, reflecting on our relationship as I baked her classic dishes? And what if I put that all into a cookbook that incorporated images of her letters, too?

I came into our pitch workshops with four ideas, but as soon as I said the cookbook pitch out loud, I knew it excited me more than any of my others. Luckily, my groupmates (Ashley and Sydney) seemed thrilled about the idea and it’s reflexive, intergenerational nature, too. Their enthusiasm had me almost convinced, but I thought I should still go through my other pitches, in case something else caught their eye. Sure enough, when I brought up the idea of continuing to work on last semester’s essay and Ashley asked if I thought I’d had enough time to process what I’d already written, I knew I hadn’t — and that meant it wouldn’t be the right project for this class. Cookbook it is!

Interestingly, Ashley and Sydney also experienced this same pattern of “I thought I knew what I wanted to do but then I started the class and something else inspired me.” I wonder if there’s something about just being in the capstone environment that sparks new ideas, or makes our old ones seem more vibrant. I loved seeing how excited all three of us got about our pitches, and how we were able to encourage each other to chase down the ideas that we felt most passionate about. Maybe I’m naive to hope all workshops in this class make me as happy as this one did, but wow — we’re off to a good start.

2 thoughts to “Reflections on Pitching”

  1. AH! Couldn’t even get through the whole post without starting my comment… the letter writing class with Pinto? If it is… I’m so jealous that’s a class I’ve wanted to take all of college and never got the chance to, and I might make my Capstone project about letter writing just so I can explore it despite the fact that I never took the class. (ok just finished the rest of your post) I LOVE THAT IDEA! I was actually thinking that it would be so cool to do a cookbook, but didn’t really have much to work with because cooking has never been a huge part of my family’s life. But… that just made me think of another idea for you… Not sure if you could incorporate it into your project, but some years back some members of the Jewish community in Cleveland (where I’m from) came together and made a huge Jewish cookbook. It’s a great way to share our community’s favorite Jewish/holiday/random recipes, and I remember everyone being excited about it. Not sure if Detroit has something similar, but if you wanted to find a way to still work the Detroit Jewish community in your project, I’m sure there are lots of Jewish mothers/grandmothers/anyone who would love to contribute their favorite recipe, and I think food and cooking is a great way to gain insight into a community. So excited about all your ideas and can’t wait to see them come to life!

  2. Maya,

    Okay first, I couldn’t help but read Sydney’s comment first, and oh my gosh––James Pinto is THE best. I had him for Art of the Essay, and I felt so inspired!
    On another note, I so feel you. You think of one thing, and something else just CATCHES your eye. I encourage you to keep going! The cookbook idea was definitely what I was thinking about too, but I’m SO excited that you are going with it!

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