Here’s to (me)? Nah…

So the bio section is a little weird. When I was first setting up my site for the og workshop I was all “yeah I’m gonna link my Instagram, It’s gonna be a little mysterious and fun.” And then I looked at it.

My Instagram is basically all food. That has nothing at all to do with my project.

Frankly, fun and mystery don’t really have very much to do with my project.

My bio so far feels a world away from the rest of the site. How do I remedy this?

I think that my initial bio ideas would make sense for some sort of author website, but this is a project website. So, I need to lose the personality extensions (insta, quirk, mirth) and mold it into something a bit more architectural and, potentially, angry.

The site example I looked at from previous capstones was an activism project, which isn’t too far off from where I’m trying to leave my own project. His bio was all about the labor activism that he had been involved with in and around campus. So maybe my bio turns into an open cover letter?

I say this, because I’ve been applying to jobs like crazy, and all of my cover letters have the common element of me wanting to live/work/make an impact in my community. This project is all about that community. Writing this now, it seems hecking obvious. And I’m sure anyone reading this who knows anything about my project is like “duh, ur dum.” But it never ceases to astound me how we can compartmentalize things so much in our heads that it takes a few months and an army for the lines between them to start to blur.

I’m so used to separating Job and School. And now School is about to go away, at least for a year while I regain some mental capacity and health, and Job is going to take over. I wonder if something might replace School in my head’s filing cabinets, or if it won’t ever quite go away until after my masters. Or if I decide to teach at some point, which I kind of want to, maybe it will just transform a bit? Because I do like have compartments; I think it makes my inner life categorization a bit easier, even if my desk is a literal mess.

 

desk mess studio work space
                         actually me rn

Ew.

 

Anyway, I really do hope that I keep being able to have separation in the parts of my life, even when the categories become less outwardly defined. I love the moment when things just ‘click’ together. During my time here, this usually happened between different classes, which was honestly one of the most exciting things, because it made me feel like I was on track, and that everything really was connected. Not being sappy, just being real.

I think that’s my end of semester mantra.

Organzing an Essay (Website??)

So I am honestly very excited for the possibilities that arise from using a website as the final container for my project. I really am. Really.

trump, believe, lie
I’m just not used to organizing my life this way. And when I say “my life” I mean my writing (feel free to laugh tragically right along with me).

So my project started as a way to make a “book” that would have originally just been for my eyes to revisit the research from my final architecture studio design project, into something actively accessible by the populations for which I’m theoretically trying to design. But what is a website if not one of the most accessible platforms? Why am I have an issue?

I’ll tell ya, it seemed good on paper to combine the efforts of my courses like this, but there is a bit of difficulty. Mostly in my own headspace categorizing. My professor in my studio course is all for the website instead of a book because the argument of access makes sense. My difficulty is organizing.

In trying to develop the thesis writing I’ve done in my architecture course into something more for capstone, I’ve been working in the mode of essay organizing. It help keeps me focused on what I need to be saying, how to transition between topics, and what I’m not doing. But websites are different, right? I don’t think that paragraph transitions between topics need to matter as much when the space between them becomes an “tab” which doesn’t even need to be accessed in any particular order. We have seen examples in class that have been very ordered, somehow, but I find myself wanting to branch out from the linear essay format and explore how to make it more of a web.

bill murrary, pun, facepalm
#cantstopwontstop making puns

How can I start? It feels like I might definitely be overcomplicating this, right? Because removing transitions (my heart just stopped a bit) or at least lessening their importance should make organizing easier, right? Storyboarding for the website was really helpful to figure out what I thought I needed, but I think I could’ve gotten even more specific. I am a sucker for well-developed plans. What I did was try to plan out, via tabs. But now that we’re work shopping project samples, I’m finding that the organization of my writing is not particularly reflective of that storyboard. Is that a personal problem? Have I just been making poor decisions? And yet, maybe I’m overlooking how website have their own style of transitions between tabs?

Any and all of these could be the truth.

I wonder if this is an issue that the MiW godcreators thought of when making a website be a requirement of the final product. The issue of form-finding. And comfort zones. I think I’m losing my train of thought.

Phone Interviews

A big part of my project his semester is interviewing, so that I can collect multiple perspectives about my topic. Unfortunately, all of my interviews so far (1 and a half) have been by phone, which makes it really hard to keep any sort of transcript. Though it’s easy to keep thorough enough notes, I’m not able to accurately type out an in time transcript and still pay enough critical attention to direct the conversation. I tried beforehand to find ways of recording phone conversations, but most sources said it was excessively difficult and potentially required ongoing subscriptions to recording and storage services.

So, my challenge comes from taking my notes and weaving an accurate narrative of the interviewee’s perspective and potentially the overall interaction. I don’t want to misappropriate quotes.

I wonder, though, if this is similar to conundrums at the core of creative nonfiction (cnf) essay writing? When I took Art of the Essay, there was a lot of talk about “emotional truths,” an idea from Mimi Schwartz’s essay, “Memoir? Fiction? Where’s the line?” The concept of emotional, or personal, truth can allow the truth of how you remember an event stand in for specific, real details of that event. When it was a just a personal narrative I was mostly on board with that idea. It let’s you collapse and stretch time as well as speak to a more deliberate theme. This is an excerpt from a short essay I wrote for that class:

“I knew you would react this way.” To be fair, I don’t know if she said that. It’s altogether possible that it was me saying it to myself, days after.

“Why?” I definitely asked that. Several times. It’s the “why” that has the potential to resolve. Maybe if I know what the issue was I can fix it. Maybe this will never happen again. Maybe I’ll never have to feel this way ever again because I won’t do the thing, whatever it is, ever again.

I have to laugh now, because if you ever have to ask “Why?” more than once then you probably just aren’t listening to the response. Some things can be too hard to hear.

In this essay, most of my dialogue is actual truth. That’s likely why the dialogue was so sparse. I didn’t want to take an imaginative leap with it, nor did I want to simply paraphrase what I remember being said, because the story is less about the specific words used and more about the feelings she expressed and the feelings I felt in return. I thought it was better to pick the most necessary, honest parts of the dialogue and then reflect on them emotionally.

That being said, my capstone topic is inherently outside of myself. Even though I was present (and thus have my own ‘truth’) for the interviews, I’m unsure if the genres of interview and cnf can so gracefully coalesce under the same message. The point of an interview transcript is to document specifics, and though I did pull a few specific quotes, much of what was said will likely end up paraphrased. The potential danger here that I see would be if I were to type up a mock transcript of the interview, and use that specific story, without it being the actual transcript. Is there responsibility or liability involved in that? Am I getting to bogged down in that?

Perhaps once I am able to conduct an in person interview, the relationship will become more clear.

Fear and Ritual

If ever I had a ritual, it would be sitting down in front of a blank sheet, thinking really hard for five minutes, and then deciding that I haven’t done enough research or world-building to possibly be able to start writing yet. My ritual is letting this fear fuel further procrastination. And I would say this is a ritual, not just because I have to write this post about a writing ritual of my own, but because this fear is essential to the core of me. This has to do with knowing vs. not knowing, and just how much knowing is required to write knowledgeably about a topic. I tend to answer that question on the side of needing to know every damn thing. Which, when I’m not trying to write, I realize is one of the most preposterous things I’ve ever thought.

I know that I won’t know everything about the thing I’m writing until I learn that information through the act of writing. Writing is, for me, the best form of active learning (followed closely by drawing), so why am I so hesitant to apply this practice outside of everyday note-taking? For something like a research essay, a simple enough way to combat this fear would be to start every session with fact-checking my thesis and outline. This would be a good practice for both my anxiety and building my references. For everything else, I strongly feel like I might need to rewire my brain.

My studio professor this semester is a big fan of “getting out the ugly” in our drawings, so that we can push through to something more thoughtful, beautiful, and nuanced. Without the initial push, I’m going to be doing my body and health a disservice by franticly floundering for words the night before, because procrastination will make me its bitch. It really will. So I think a good ritual would be to “shitty first draft” everything I’m having trouble with. New mantra: “Get out the ugly jist of it; refine later.”

wires brain thoughts head
If only it were this simple.

The final hoedown.

I have definitely come a long way in my eportfolio (click the link).

Weebly has overall done exactly what I’ve wanted it to…except for some weird color vs black and white back splash fiascos that I still need to sort out…which was help me display my work with little extravaganza on my part. It’s been very user friendly, and the simple site building techniques helped me stick to a professional lay out, which I know if I had more options I would have been tempted to overcrowd the design. #knowyourselfshowyourself

See? I’m already branding.

parks and recreation gif
Just to be clear, I’m “Larry/Gary/Jerry”.

So yeah, I’m pretty happy with the writing side of my eportfolio right now. The design side, however, needs a bit of work. But that’s more just me creating better content for my portfolio more than anything. -laughs sardonically-

Aside from that, I’m definitely pleased with what I was able to put together. Along with the repurposing, remediating, and why/how projects I’m showcasing 4 essays (3 and 1 other media project) that exhibit other genres I’m comfortable writing in. I think this will help develop a better rounded perspective with different topics–since the original source, repurpose, and remediate are all about the same thing. My remediation isn’t even technically writing (…OR IS IT?).

Anyway, something I wanted to achieve in this portfolio was a well-rounded showcasing of my relevant talents as a writer and designer. I think I’ve done an alright job. I’m excited to see how this process changes come Capstone.

Everyone has really done a fantastic job though!

parks and recreation leslie knope
Because all of the Parks and Rec.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been”…is what I’ll say after Capstone.

Because this was only the beginning!
(I’ll have you know, I have successfully resisted the urge to use emojis in this blog all term….until now.)

😀

I am so excited for all of you incoming minors! Let me use more exclamation points just to fully express this!!!

As for advice, I suppose I’ll start with:

  • Don’t resist that urge.
    • If you at all feel compelled to use emojis or write a monologue with no punctuation or bake cookies or paint or sign a song: in the famous words of Nike and Shia LaBeouf:do it, shia lebeoufThis is honestly the best class for doing that thing with your writing that you always felt was a little risky or out of place in other academic settings. Now, I’m not exactly saying to forgo all genre conventions–just make sure you live a little and create coursework you enjoy!
  • Do interact with the Sweetland faculty.
    • I’m a sophomore, but this is probably the first class where I actually went to meetings with the prof. Granted, they were mandatory. However, they were definitely what you made of them. Go prepared with your project and any questions you have. These people give great feedback and, if they don’t quite know what to make of you, good referrals. It’s their job: go to office hours, make appointments, develop a good working relationship. 🙂

That about sums it up, to be honest. I mean, there are the other typical things like always come prepared to class (and always, always go to class), do the readings, get friendly with your fellow minors/blog groups, have a good time, don’t put off big commitments, etc.

So now that Gateway is in its final stages, I suppose I’ll say:

Into the Great Wide Open…

 

I really wanted to not write an essay.

RE: why and how I write

[insert title here]

So, I did a comic which ends in a brief poem.
I really like this format because I was able to show my process really well. Most of my writing process is inarticulate and is me basically staring at the screen and trying to think of what to write. And of course I don’t feel alone in this struggle at all.

However, when you’re doing it that way it can seem a bit lonely, a bit stressful, and very anxiety making. I tried to show this anxiety and solitude in my first few panels by exhibiting the notorious blinking type line. I’m not really sure what it’s actually called in certified technical speak. I’m not sure if it comes across in the 3 and a half panels as well as in this gif. blinking cursor gif

One issue I’ve run into is it’s hard to include much evidence in this format. The second page is where I provide some reasons (academic, feels, and communication are what I was going for) for my writing and in the final panel on that page I span many windows, each of which will have a bit of text showing themselves as writing I have stored on my computer. As far as evidence, it’s a bit shallow. I really want to stick with this format though.

The poem was written a little hastily (hey, it’s a draft), but it is heartfelt in its composition none the less. I will definitely revise it going into the last days of Gateway, because in peer reviews there were some mixed thoughts that I’d like to try to clear up.

Overall the review process has been very helpful for this piece though. It gave me some great ideas of including a few more panels to dig just a bit deeper for evidence and analysis, and maybe to add a bit more text (which at this point is basically any) to the first part of the piece.

In the final copy for the portfolio I’ll probably keep it colorless, at least for the most part, and hand drawn, but I’ll clean up my lines and use a good black pen.

 

 

Writing, and lots of it.

I’m mostly satisfied with the writing I’ve done this semester. Between the gateway course and my history classes, I get to write about a range of topics in a range of ways.

The only thing I would like to work further with, I think, would be developing a solid academic thesis. I feel a little ridiculous wanting to get into it at this stage in academic writing because we went over it so, so often in high school. My history teacher back then was very rigorous on making sure we had good theses. Now, however, I’m feeling very out of practice.

I wrote this embarrassing essay a few weeks ago for my amcult class that was so structurally weak. I’m blushing just thinking about it.
The biggest issue with it was my thesis being too broad and too unrelated to the prompt.

animeUltimately though, I’d like to work a bit more on developing the ideas from my vignettes into more of a story format. Or, just writing more of them to explore the ideas from my world building. Writing those were without a doubt the most satisfied I’ve been with my writing in a while. That being said, I don’t mean to say that they were perfect in every way–I’m just really happy I finally wrote something about that world. I’d been working on it for, well, years to be completely technical, but the last time I wrote anything substantial was years ago before all of the countless world revisions I’ve gone through.

Self-discoveries in Writing

Aside from partial, half-assed attempts to do NaNoWriMo last year and a myriad of other false-starts littering my documents folder, this semester is the first time I’ve actually ‘completed’ any original fiction. On the other hand, I haven’t written anything in my journal since an obligatory end of summer entry. I’m really proud of myself for finally forcing myself (or allowing myself to be academically motivated) to work on the story part of my world instead of staying in the safe world-building realm again this year, but I’ve definitely been neglecting the more personal aspect of why I write.

I still consider writing in a journal to sort through life a central part of me as a writer, but if that’s the case, with me not having written in it can I still consider myself a writer? Granted, I have still been doing other writing so this is maybe a bit of a melodramatic approach to this blog post. However, I think there’s a lot of truth to the whole “if you aren’t writing, then you aren’t a writer”. I think that’s paraphrasing Stephen King, but I don’t quite remember. book cover

Maybe the “why” has changed? (Either that or I’ve been neglecting myself, but let’s go down this path a bit.)

I think “why” depends on the format of your writing. A lot of Orwell’s reasons seemed more specific to writing novels, though he supplied a few poetic examples as well. Lately, my writing has been primarily academic, with a decent dose of creative flare (thank you Minor). Not to mention this blog. Most academic writing is kind of stressful. There’s so much riding on it. I mean, if you write something to be published, there’s a different sort of classification you’re upheld to with just as much rigor depending on your venue, but grades are kind of important. A lot of academic writing is stressful because it’s for the grade, and yet a lot of times you don’t even get a specific rubric so it masquerades as something more creative than it’s supposed to be. This post may have just gotten a bit off topic with that rant. My apologies.

My creative writing is still fun though. When I was writing my vignettes I really enjoyed the rhythm that occurred. I’d just get going and then keep going until I was finished with what I had to say. I also got way into the revision process–in fact, the bulk of my writing was during the revising process. It gave me a bit more time to reflect, make changes, and reconsider things. A lot of my past writing was done in tandem with revising for the first draft. Now, however, I use the draft to get out my initial thoughts, and then do revising after to form it into something more coherent and relevant. Pretty sure that means I’ve “normalized” my process.

Braving the Adobe User Interface

I really don’t like the way the various Adobe programs are set up. The minimal aesthetic is not conducive to me learning how to use the program.

That being said, I have had to use Illustrator, and to a lesser extent Photoshop, in a past Digital Drawing class. But in that class I wasn’t creating my piece within that program–I was only editing/filling in with colors. So, in starting out my journey to “illustrate-but-not-really” vignette #1 I sought out some help YouTube style.

Funny story, I began in Illustrator and then halfway through this video I realized his help was for Photoshop. It’s been a long day. I’m still not sure which is program is more the norm for digital drawings, but I’ll just go with what feels right. Mostly I spent a few long hours experimenting with different brushes in both programs. To be very frank, it was more difficult than YouTube guy is making it out to be, especially because I don’t have a fancy touch pad to apply different pressures with.

[Aside: my art friend literally just walked in while I’m writing this, and apparently there are tablets of some sort available for rent from the Duderstadt. I must look into this further.]

digital sketch
Photoshop Practice
digital sketch
Illustrator Practice

Overall, given my lack of touch pad my sketches turned out pretty okay. I might try to mix certain aspects from both programs, though my experience with ended up a bit more satisfactory than with Photoshop so we’ll see.  In both, I had a lot of trouble getting the right consistency for the mist I want separating top and bottom, but I was able to achieve more precise line work in Illustrator on the plants. With the brush in Photoshop, it was hard to tell which line editing tool would do what and also where precisely the line would start in relation to my cursor.

My other mock ups, as well as the hand-drawings I did for this vignette, turned out alright. However, The Blog God tells me the pdf combo file is just too big to share it here. Shucks.

Sketching everything out in a brainstorm format has really helped me decide which path to go with for certain things, especially with this digital drawing and with the cubist one (though the latter might change direction a bit still). I’m now more firm on specific subject and content for each piece, which is the most important thing to establish for going forward.