Alexis vs. Technology

I have the most frustrating relationship with technology.

New media has so much potential it is actually overwhelming. When thinking in terms of my E-portfolio, I really want to utilize as many widgets, photos, etc. as possible. Yet, I still don’t understand how to properly create a portfolio that has a design reflective of who I am as a writer. I want to look at my finished product and have a moment where I’m like BAM that’s me, that’s how I want others to perceive my writing style. So, the next couple of weeks may be a struggle. And I may be asking our tech-savvy classmates to answer a few questions. I’m hoping with some practice my Alexis vs. Technology war will turn into a peaceful union (excuse my cheesy reference).

Wish me luck!

Until then…

Response to Readings

I’ve chosen to elaborate on one interesting thought/commentary from each of the three readings.

Reading 1:

The following quote resonates with my own writing process: “The most engaging writers are almost invariably those who pay the closet attention to the real people – specialists and nonspecialists- colleagues and strangers- in whose ears their own words will echo.” I have always been told that the best writers can predict what their readers will be thinking. This way, you can answer their questions as they arise. I love when I have a question while reading a piece that is very soon after answered. It is helpful to be in sync with an author and employ the say thinking progression.

Reading 2:

I appreciate the metephor of a sentence being like a bridge, or if written poorly, like a log. The imagery emphasizes the linear and logical progression while reading a piece of work – you go from the beginning of one sentence to the end of it, and moving on once understood. If you can’t get through a sentence, it is easy to miss the larger picture of the work. Therefore, we need to eliminate the clutter in sentences and always be clear.

Reading 3:

I agree with the author that a title is equivalent to a first impression. I think of newspapers, magazines, academic journals, etc., and can’t help but start my evaluation of the piece by how its information is captured by a sentence or a mere couple of words. I always find myself balancing my titles between engaging the reader and informing them. I’ve recently learned from my English 225 class that often times two-tiered titles allow you to do both effectively. I like having the first line as something catchy and witty, and then in the second line providing more specifics.

Overall, all three of these readings provide fundamental writing advice that I believe all writers ought to follow.

Emily Giffin: Even more reason to love my favorite author…

Oh midterms week how I despise you. And among all of my reasons for why that is (loosing sleep and eating an endless amount of junk food to name a few), I can now add to the list having to miss the How I Write presentation this evening because of my study group. Anyhow, in order to still get my fix into the mind of an author at work, I turned to an interview with my absolute favorite compositionist, Emily Giffin. Every time I find time to sit down and read a Giffin novel with vanilla Chai tea and cozying up with what I believe has to be the softest blanket made on this planet, my mind is put at ease. Her stories resonate with my personal intrigue of the vast emotional complexities one experiences throughout early adulthood. And now, through watching an interview on her latest novel Where We Belong, I believe my love for these books may result from the viewpoints on writing and what it takes to be a good writer that Giffin and I share.

Right from the start Emily announces she has a love-hate relationship with writing. She explains that she has experienced her highest of highs from creating stories while also experiencing complete frustration and doubt that she will ever be able to produce a novel just a great as a preceding one. When directly asked, “what does it take to be a good writer?”, I absolutely loved Giffin’s response. She explains that in order to be a good writer you have to be curious about other people, and even more so have empathy for what others have experienced. In Where We Belong, she wrote about characters going through situations she personally had never gone through before. If you aren’t interested in others’ stories, how can you expect others to connect with your writing? I believe people enjoy reading what they can in some way relate to, even if this means simply agreeing with an overall message presented. And so, I now understand that I find myself attracted to Giffin’s books because we both value individuals who care to know and understand others, no matter how different and foreign their experiences or thinking may be.

Technologically Challanged – A Venting Session?

WordPress is awesome. However, I must admit that I found myself already frustrated yesterday when trying to maneuver around the website. What is a widget? Why can’t I just drag a picture to where I want it? Why is this font SO big? As with the majority of technology, if you know how to use it -WOAH- the possibilities are endless. However, if not, you almost feel like you are at an unlocked gate enclosing a million dollars but for some reason now matter how hard you push the gate is jammed shut. Okay, that is kind of a very dramatic comparison. Yet it is also kind of true! I am extremely looking forward to the tech-savvy students giving presentations on how to use some of the websites’ features. Perhaps students who have already completed an E-portfolio would be interested in giving a presentation? The more help the better!

Writing for a Specific Audience

The first thing I noticed when browsing various forms of writing for my re-purposing project was that each medium has unique techniques employed in order to reach a certain kind of audience. Op-eds – include much ethos and appeal to the reader’s sense of logic; Blogging – has much personality and interactive components; Research/academic papers – incorporate many statistics and data as evidence. All of these mediums (and numerous more) are distinct and serve a specific purpose.

I have decided that for my project I will be re-purposing my academic research paper on the legality of unpaid internships into an op-ed piece. After re-visiting Andrew Sullivan’s Why I Blog, I realize that just as important – or even more so – than the content of my op-ed will be the tone I sent throughout it. I want to have this piece to resemble an op-ed in the Michigan Daily and therefore target student readers who have much stake in the matter. I want to be informative while also grabbing a student’s attention – perhaps with links and videos. Much of the new research I will be doing for this project will be focused on understanding successful techniques that op-ed writers use. This genre of writing is completely knew to me, however I believe that my topic on internships could produce a great article!

Interesting Research Points!

One of the key points in “Using Sources” that stuck out to me was the emphasis on writers and researchers not being objective in their understanding of material. This aspect of human nature is something I had commented on in my “Why I Write” first draft. I explain that everything I write reflects who I am in some way. For example, I say that “the mere process of selecting certain evidence to prove a point reveals what I view as significant”. This is exactly what the reading warns us against! It therefore struck a cord with me when the reading states, “we have to guard against those biases both in your own work and in your sources.”

I also liked how the reading emphasized how you don’t have to agree with the conclusions in a source to use its data. In fact, the argument doesn’t have to even be relevant to your own research question. I feel that often in my own research process I get too caught up in trying to find the “perfect” research article. There are many unconventional ways to use research. One way I had never previously considered is borrowing the logic of a resource as opposed to just its content.

Lastly, I completely agree with the passage in the reading that explains, “if you cannot summarize a passage in your mind, assume you don’t understand it well enough to use in an argument.” I definitely use this strategy when trying to thoroughly understand a piece of writing. Frequently when I am struggling synthesizing a point of research, it is because I don’t understand it well enough.

I Love to Write… But Why?

To say I am having difficulty with this assignment would be an extreme understatement. I find myself extremely frustrated with myself for not being able to express why I do something that is so important and relevant in my life. Then again, I haven’t had much experience in the reflection-writing realm – usually my writing has always been a forward movement as opposed to stopping and thinking about the past.

I am trying to get to the core of why I write. I know I love the art of persuasion, hoping to enter the field of public relations in which you are constantly pitching to others certain ideas and viewpoints. However, I know there is more to my writing purpose than just that. So, I began the assignment by jotting down every answer I could possibly think of until I found a common thread among my scattered notes.

I’ve decided that the root of my passion for writing lies in my want to be heard. I think that my essay will focus on how hectic my lifestyle has become over the years and that in the midst of chaos, writing has provided me with the rare opportunity to be introspective and contribute my opinions to others. I hope that through my essay my personality is shown as well.

My biggest struggle is finding evidence to get my message across. Perhaps I will incorporate stories from past writing processes? Having just read “Shitty First Drafts” for class tomorrow, I think what will help me the most is to simply write down everything I am thinking and go from there.

Wish me luck!

“Why Men Fail” Mission Statement

I’ve always been intrigued by The New York Times opinion articles. I can’t count the number of times my outlook on an issue has been swayed by these savvy columnists. My searching eyes reached a halt yesterday upon reading the title “Why Men Fail.” ‘Really?’ I thought as I stared at the picture of author David Brooks looking quite professional and intellectual. This guy has something negative to say about the male gender?

Instead of summarizing this article, I thought it would be interesting in light of today’s class to present its information through pretending to enter the mind of David Brooks. In essence, the following is what I believe his mission statement would be…

  • I want readers to understand that adversity among a historical minority group (women) has rendered them advantageous in today’s workplace.
  • I want my audience to understand that flexibility and adaptability is perhaps just as important as mastery of the current times. Change is inevitable – today’s norms are tomorrow’s outdated practices.
  • Stubbornness with what is limits vision and movement.
  • Lastly, clinging to certain ideologies without an open mind will only hinder your progression within society.

Perseverance of Individuality

Blogging. Hm – what do I know about this encroaching phenomenon? Well for starters, I know that public relations companies seek their approval and alliance (this summer having spent countless hours looking up “hot item” blogs to try and pitch fashion items to). I also know that my overeager aunt sends alerts to everyone in her email contacts upon updating her personal blog. And I know that I have admittedly pondered the idea of starting one myself. However, this “knowledge” if you shall call it has resulted from only a surface level (at best) analysis of what blogging is, what it represents, and how it reflects our society. In a world with a multiplicity of short-lived trends, there must be some underlying communal need among people that has pushed blogging to the forefront of written expression and made it stick. Lucky, I believe Andrew Sullivan has shed some much needed light on my muddled understanding.

Conformity – although we all may like to brag about how free and self-willed our lifestyles are, the reality is that society dominates much of our day to day thinking and actions. If you don’t believe me just think about what you’re wearing, what posters are hanging on your wall, and what brand of laptop you are using. However, like any modern, 21st century individual, we like to push limitations. I find it way too interesting to be ignored how over the past couple of years outlets of self-expression similar to blogging such as twitter, pinterest, and instagram have increased in popularity dramatically. Is this a backlash against conforming societal opinion? Are people feeling more passionately about having an independent voice in a plethora of unheard people? Maybe – just maybe- we subconsciously want to feel like our opinions actually matter to others.

Regulations – talk like this, walk like that, wear this, date him not him, oh how the list goes on and on. One of the most striking comments Sullivan discussed was how blogging “is the spontaneous expression of instant thought” and how the “deadline [for blogging] is now.” Honestly, this spontaneous expression is downright daunting to me as I am sure it is to many others. My whole life I have worked towards always thinking rationally and patiently, and now words like impulsive and erratic are becoming mainstream? No thank you! Yet, at the same time I envy those who find little difficulty speaking freely and openly. I often feel that my reliance on what is accepted and ultimately my deterrence from the unknown has often times hindered my creative capabilities. I love Sullivan’s metaphors – particularly his comparison of the similarities between blogging and extreme sports. He explains that, “blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive.” Although blogging may result in a level of vulnerability, we ought to take the risk, we ought to feel “alive”.

Think, be free, no restraints, let go. This shall be my motto for the upcoming semester in our writing course. Lastly, when in doubt always remember that if the girl below can express herself, so can you.

 

Thanks for listening,

Alexis