How I Write Reflection

Unfortunately I had an exam and was unable to attend the How I Write event, but I heard it was fantastic! I am looking forward to the next one.

So instead of reflecting on the event, I watched an interview of Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors.  The interview I chose to watch happened to be on Ellen, so it was both very informative and very entertaining.  Since I am such a huge Jodi Picoult fan, hearing about her writing process was very inspiring to me.  One of the craziest aspects of what she talked about was how she finds the time to write all of her novels.  She is a mother of 3 children, and write when she got started as an author was when she had her first baby.  She said that any time blocks of 15 minutes she could find were precious.  With 3 babies running around the house, she said she used to write while Barney was on, or even bring her laptop to type on her steering wheel of her car while parked in the Nursery school parking lot!

Now that her children are older, she has settled into more of a full day routine.  She goes to the office around 7:30 AM and works straight all day until her kids come home from school when she magically has to turn into Mom again.  It is a full time job.  I honestly can’t imagine sitting down and just writing every day for 8(or more) hours straight…

Jodi Picoult has written 18 novels, around 5 of which have been number one best sellers.  She said it only takes her nine months to write each novel.  How can someone possibly come up with that many different story lines and characters?! I have enough trouble coming up with my paper topics for my classes, I don’t know how I would be able to think of intricate story worlds and plot lines for 18 different novels. Picoult says that her ideas start out like splinters.  You know how you keep feeling around for a splinter to see if it’s still there? Well she keeps thinking about an idea and if it starts to keep her up at night, then it probably is a really good idea.  About two or three weeks of this go by, and then characters seem to be popping up like mushrooms.  She says the characters just take the story away from her and develop their plot.

I think my favorite quote from the interview was “writing is like successful schizophrenia.”  She finds it amusing that she actually gets paid to hear voices.  “They’re all talking in my head,” she says, “I just write them down.”

Why is writing research papers so boring?

After being in this class for half a semester, I think I have gotten spoiled.  We have had so much freedom in what we can write– almost no guidelines, no direction, just writing.  I have been able to write in almost every different genre and style I can think of.  Since this class has been the majority of the writing I have done so far this semester, I forgot that not all writing is like this.  For the past four hours I have been staring at the cursor blinking on my blank white computer screen in an attempt to start my research paper for my communications class.  After analyzing seven different peer-reviewed journals, extracting quotes and key information, and attempting to make an outline– I think I am ready to come back to doing my homework for writing 220!  I officially hate research papers.  Why can’t I just write a blog post about my research? 🙂 

Thankfully I have this blog to rant about all of my pent up aggression about my academic writing frustration.  Now back to work!

Ready, Set, Blog!

After re-reading Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog”, I am having trouble containing my excitement for starting my own E-portfolio.  Sullivan explains the beauty of blogging in such a wonderfully direct way that I had never even considered before.  I think the reason why it is so exciting to me, and to Sullivan as well, is that with blogging – anything is possible. As Shelley always reminds us, “The world is your oyster”.  Blogging is unlike any other form of writing in that there are no rules, there are no restrictions, there are no guidelines.  It is purely you, in the most refreshing way possible.

“The simple experience of being able to directly broadcast my own words to readers was an exhilarating literary liberation,” says Sullivan.  This sensation of being able to overtly and whole-heartedly express yourself is both terrifying and exciting.  It is rare that you find such an opportunity to share your inner-most thoughts, feelings, and ideas with the world.  But it is for this reason precisely why blogging is so exciting to me.

As I have mentioned before, I have always wanted to keep a blog.  I have thought about it several times, even started to create one for myself once or twice, but I never actually end up going through with it.  I think it was because I was too nervous of what others would think of me when they looked at it, or I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything to say.  But now since we are creating E-portfolios for this course, I have finally realized that it is for those exact reasons why I should start my own blog.  The whole point is that it doesn’t matter what people think of me when they look at it, because this is about expressing myself.   And the beauty of the E-portfolio is it can be anything and everything that I want it to be.

I can’t wait to get started, but first I will need to get through my re-purposing project….oy.

Re-Purposing Frustration

You know that feeling when it seems like you are constantly working but t somehow feels like no matter how long you work for you are getting nothing done? Welcome to my life this week.  For some reason it seems like no matter how many items I cross off of my to-do list, the list never gets any shorter!

My re-purposing proposal is one thing on my list that I have not been able to cross off yet.  I have been thinking and researching and planning ideas for it, but I somehow keep ending up back at square one.  I think I have come up with a great concept for my project, but I have yet to develop a concrete strategy to tackle the actual format of it.

I would like to use a review I wrote of a local Ann Arbor restaurant (Frita Batidos) for an Ann Arbor food Blog (Wolverine Cuizine) as my text.  I am thinking about re-purposing my original work into an episode of the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”.  Now I know this sounds like a somewhat crazy idea at first, but I think I might have an interesting way to approach it.  I will write the script of an episode for the show as if I was a writer for the show itself.  The script will include what the host of the show will say, interviews with the restaurant owner/chefs as well as customers, and dialogue between the host and the customers.  Through this writing, I will be able to convey why this was the best thing the host has ever eaten and why he loves the restaurant as much as he does.

I have been researching the show, the restaurant, and episode scripts in order to determine the best way to approach this project.  I still definitely have a few kinks to work out and thinkthrough, but I think I like where this is headed…

p.s. I am always amazed how much writing out my thoughts on this blog helps me formulate and organize my ideas.

Rhetorical Reading?

I rarely stop to consider what my reader is thinking as I am writing an academic essay for class.  It is very easy to fall into the routine of simply writing off the importance of who your reader really is since all you really care about is impressing your teacher to get a good grade, right?  Writing 220 and gamification opens up a whole new world of writing for us to explore! It will enable me for the first time in quite a while to forget about my grade and simply focus on understanding who my audience is and finding the right way to convey my messages to them.

In Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning, Haas and Flower confront the common perception of what reading is by arguing that readers need to take into account the authors rhetoric, or purpose, context, and affect on the audience through a rhetorical reading.  This article completely changed the way I think about reading and writing. Especially as a student, it is far too easy to get into the habit of “mindlessly” reading texts for class.  By this, I mean reading with my eyes halfway closed and the television on in the background…oh c’mon you know we’ve all done it!   I have never truly taken the time to consider the motivation of the author while I was reading a text or utilize rhetorical strategies to understand the text on a deeper and more comprehensive level.  If we construct “a complex multi-faceted representation of meaning” between the experience of the reader and the motivation of the author, we will be able to read much more effectively.  This is something that I am going to strive to do from now on with any text that I am reading, whether for class or for pleasure. This will also be something that is crucial for my writing, and I am excited to experiment with new techniques to target my own readers this semester.

The wonderful weirdness of the Diag

Today as I was walking through the Diag, annoyed that I had to go to another class, a random guy walks up out of no where and shouts “happy hump day!” while sticking out his hand for a high five.  It is times like this where I can’t help but think to myself “I love this school”.

I mean seriously, come on.  Where else are you offered a “free hug” every Friday, or handed a pair of “go blue” sunglasses just for the heck of it?  Where else is it acceptable for gymnasts to set up a pommel horse and a balance beam in the middle of campus to show off their flips and tricks, or to do barefoot tai kwon do on the grass in the middle of the day? Is there any place else that you walk through where it is considered “weird” when you don’t get handed some form of free food or clothing?  I have seen dunk tanks, throw a pie at your best friend games, tight rope walking, a club solely devoted to squirrel watching(abnormally large and terrifyingly friendly squirrels I might add…), a group of girls dressed up as Raggedy Ann dolls while playing duck duck goose, a Diag freeze flash mob, and a flash mob of dancing students in caps and gowns for crying out loud!  The Diag is the weirdest, most wonderful place I have ever been.

I bet the “Quad” at Penn doesn’t have free hugs on fridays…..

Shitty First Draft, Here Goes Nothin’

Why do I write? I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that question before.  Maybe it’s because most people don’t really think about why exactly they write too often.  I have thought about how I write.  I have thought about what kind of writing I like and dislike.  But I have never taken to time to consider why.  It as not as easy of a question as it may sound…

For me, writing is a tool.  I have never been the loudest or most outgoing person in the room, and I have always found that I can express myself much more effectively through writing.  For some reason, words seem to flow much more freely onto a piece of paper than they do out of my mouth.

But I write for many reasons.  Where do I even start?! I write for classes in school.  I write lists of every single thing that I need to accomplish each day.  I write text messages to communicate with my friends.  I write on social media sites.  I write to share my ideas.  I write for fun.  The list is endless…

You would think an assignment like this one in which there is no structure, no real guidelines, and not even a GRADE would be simple.  But unfortunately I have found myself staring at this blank white page in front of me (I think it may be mocking me at this point), hoping for a friend to walk by as a distraction, and trying desperately to drop all of these whining mouses into the jar so that I can finally start writing my shitty first draft.

Good luck everyone!

Why I Blog

Of the three articles we read, Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” definitely resonated with me the most.  As I was reading it my mind immediately began overflowing with ideas and questions about how this generation of bloggers with “online presences” is changing the meaning of writing.

I have never really taken the time to think about how different blogging is from traditional writing.  In our cyber world of constant Facebook status updates and Tweets using less than 160 characters, most of the writing we encounter is written extremely concisely and in real-time.  Sullivan says, “But a blog, unlike a diary, is instantly public. It transforms this most personal and retrospective of forms into a painfully public and immediate one. It combines the confessional genre with the log form and exposes the author in a manner no author has ever been exposed before.” The world has never been exposed to writing that is so blatantly public.  Anyone with access to the Internet now has the ability to immediately broadcast their feelings to the entire world with just the click of one button. “The simple experience of being able to directly broadcast my own words to readers was an exhilarating literary liberation.”  This medium fosters an entirely new genre of writing in which the possibilities are endless.  As Sullivan mentions, “Every writer since the printing press has longed for a means to publish himself and reach—instantly—any reader on Earth.”  This is truly a revolutionary phenomenon.

Not only does blogging allow writers to instantly reach any reader on earth, but it allows them to engage them.  Blogging is directly intertwined with the central underlying theme of the social media generation that we live in today: sharing.  The culture of social media online is all about people being able to share their ideas and express themselves.  Just as people engage in conversations and groups on Facebook and Twitter, readers can engage in lively and passionate discussions on blogs.  “To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others, as Montaigne did, pivot you toward relative truth.”  The purpose of blogging is therefore radically different from traditional writing.  It’s immediate purpose is to propose new and interesting ideas in real time, and hope to spark conversation of new ideas.  As Sullivan notes, “The role of a blogger is not to defend against this but to embrace it. He is similar in this way to the host of a dinner party. He can provoke discussion or take a position, even passionately, but he also must create an atmosphere in which others want to participate.”

Reading this article made me unbelievably excited to get started on my own blog and begin to spark exciting conversations!