Capstone Project Struggles

For my capstone project, I’m writing a short story. Fiction is not my forte, and I’ve conducted some preliminary research to learn different brainstorming and writing techniques (Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway & What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays). Though these sources are extremely helpful, they don’t address some more personal problems that I’m facing.

In my story, I’m writing from multiple points of view. In order to achieve a distinct voice for each character, I’ve used somebody I know as a model. For example, I thought to myself, “what would so-and-so think in this situation? How would he/she react in this circumstance?” While my story is entirely fiction, my characters are very identifiable as people in my life. And in order to make the story realistic and interesting, I have exposed some of their greatest flaws. The average reader might not recognize this, but for those who are close to me, they will immediately know who I’ve used as for my character models.

My problem is this: I’m scared to show my story to those who I’ve modeled characters after. I’m nervous that they will be offended that I have portrayed them in a way that exposes their shortcomings. I fear that they will be mad at me for writing about personal situations, even though I’ve changed enough details to call the piece fiction.

What do I do? Should I show them my story? Since I’m posting it on a public website (my capstone e-Portfolio) I’m sure they’ll eventually stumble upon it. All advice is welcome.

Thanks!

Capstone e-Portfolio Draft

Since I last posted about my capstone e-Portfolio, I’ve made major progress. I’ve created the actual site,  inserted text and images, and come up with a tentative theme. I’m really excited about the direction I’ve chosen for the site. Below is a description of the progress I’ve made, along with some questions I have. I’d love some constructive feedback!

I’ve decided to follow a travel theme. On the first page, the text reads:

“Welcome to LindaTell Airlines!

We’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about today’s site.

First, you’ll notice two navigation bars. The top one is for site visitors who are traveling for pleasure.

The second is for those of you who are traveling for business—capstone evaluators—and can be accessed by selecting the three lines on the upper right.

LindaTell Airlines can take you to a diverse array of destinations, including the lush forests of non-fiction, the calming coasts of fiction, and the vibrant cities of multi-media. While you’re here, we encourage you to indulge your inner wanderlust.

To ensure full attention, please turn off all electronic devices at this time.

And remember, this is a non-smoking website. Tampering with the smoke detector in the restroom is prohibited.

Once again, thanks for choosing Linda Tell Airlines. We hope you enjoy your trip!”

The tabs are still split up as Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Multi-Media, as I wrote about in my last blog post (Mapping My Capstone Portfolio). Now, each page has a little blurb about each ‘destination.’ So for example, when you click on Non-Fiction, the text reads:

“Welcome to the lush forests of Non-fiction. Here you’ll notice nature in it’s truest form. There’s nothing artificial about Non-fiction, and that’s why travelers find it so appealing. So take a look around! You might just discover something new.”

I think that this theme will help me achieve a cohesive feel, and truly make the e-Portfolio an artifact in itself. I also think that this theme helps me convey the idea that I have created a diverse variety of genres. Each ‘location’ is a metaphor for each genre, which I hope will reinforce this idea of diversity.

I also think that the theme does a good job at explaining who I am as a writer — I’d like to think that I’m creative and quirky, two traits that I think usually shine through in my various artifacts.

Of course, this is just a draft of my e-portfolio, an outline of what is to come. But if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve created so far, the link is below:

https://lindatellcapstone.wordpress.com/

Please click around and let me know what you think in the comments below! Is the theme working? Is it achieving the goals that I’ve stated above? What needs work? What should I add/change? All input is appreciated!

I’m looking forward to completing this project and I think I’m on my way to creating something unique, fun, interesting, and of course, representative of me as a writer.

Thanks in advance for the feedback!

Mapping my Capstone Portfolio

I’m planning on categorizing my work into three over-arching navigation pages: non-fiction, fiction, and multimedia. This will help maintain a cohesive feel throughout my site – I won’t isolate my capstone project and developmental essay from my other work.

I decided to categorize in this way in order to make the site easily accessible for a handful of audiences. Evaluators are looking for specific pieces, but other site visitors might be confused if the navigation was directed by specific assignment titles.

Each piece will be prefaced with a short blurb – here is where I will speak directly to my evaluator, explaining the content, and how it showcases a specific skill that I have acquired. This is also the way I plan to incorporate reflective material (in addition to my developmental essay, which in itself is reflective).

I think that my site’s organization will accurately represent me as a writer because it displays three distinct genres of writing (as well as sub-genres). I am a very flexible writer, and I have experience with various mediums. I want this aspect of my writing to be conveyed.

What do you guys think?

 

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

I’m a pretty controlling person. I like to be in charge, and I don’t like to be told what to do. So when Shelley introduced this activity to the class, I was a bit skeptical. Our final project — the capstone of the capstone class — is an important one, to say the least. It needs to be perfect; it needs to be uniquely mine. I questioned whether somebody other than me could brainstorm topics that I’d actually consider.

Upon completing the activity, I was pleasantly surprised. After listening to my likes, dislikes, etc., my partner seemed to really understand the types of writing I prefer, and the ways I can push myself to try new things.

The suggestion I’m leaning furthest towards is this:

“Observe a person of interest for a day, noting their hobbies, habits, routine, etc. and create an article based on their experiences of particular events.” 

I think that this suggestion works best with my particular interests and skills, as I hope to someday become a journalist. Additionally, my favorite writing assignments have been ones where I have creative flexibility, notably those in my Art of the Essay class, where I practiced writing creative nonfiction. This topic suggestion combines those two genres (journalism and creative nonfiction) to create something unique, interesting, and challenging.

Of course, I’ll continue to brainstorm on my own, but this activity has provided me with some great places to start.

Me, Myself, and My Name

When I introduce myself as Linda, people often respond with something along the lines of, “my grandma’s name is also Linda!” The exchange is a common occurrence. After all, Linda is a grandma name. In fact, it’s my grandma’s name.

I was named after my mom’s mom, Linda Rose Schwartz, who passed away when my mom was only 14 years old. My whole life, I’ve been told about the incredible woman with whom I share a name. Even so, I didn’t always appreciate the name Linda. In fact, for a while, I hated it. I mean, it was hard being an 8-year-old named Linda. It was as if I belonged in a nursing home rather than an elementary school classroom. Even to this day, I have yet to meet a Linda under the age of 50. I longed to be like my friends who had names like Jessica and Rachel. I simply did not belong. I cried to my parents; I pleaded with them to change my name.

Upon entering college, I befriended a girl named Diana, and immediately bonded with her over our old-lady names. We decided that it was time to change the way people viewed our names. It was time to own our names; to wear them with pride. For this, we created a Facebook page titled, “Young People with Old Lady Names.” The description of the page is as follows:

(Just as a brief side note, I actually experienced all of the things in the description.)

Today, I love the name Linda. It’s more than just five letters strung together. I am named in the memory of Linda Rose Schwartz. Like me, she was a writer. In third grade, I shared with my class a small book consisting of beautiful poems written by my namesake. My bat mitzvah invitation featured one of her short free verse poems; originally written for my mom on her thirteenth birthday. Linda Rose Schwartz loved birds, art, and most importantly, her children. From what I gather, she was truly a beautiful, courageous, and inspirational woman, both inside and out.

A few weeks ago, as my mom was sifting through old artifacts from her childhood, she came across a note that her mother once wrote. The words read, “you make your own luck.” It’s funny; my mom has consoled me with those exact words more times than I can count. The idea has become our mantra; the lens through which we view life. Linda Rose is a name of which I am proud. I am honored to carry on my grandma’s memory, and I work to embody her qualities in order to uphold the dignity of the name.

I am a lot of things. I am a daughter, a sister, a student, and a friend. Most importantly, however, I am Linda Rose, and of that, I could not be prouder.

Why I Don’t Write

As a brief disclaimer, I’d like to make it clear that I love to write. I love stringing together sentences, playing with word sequences, and sharing my ideas on paper. Yet, I find that college writing isn’t nearly as satisfying as recreational writing. Upon entering college, I joined a world dictated by guidelines and grades. When I sit down to write a paper, instead of brainstorming ideas, I find that my mind drifts off, filled with all the other things I could be doing. So, instead of writing another cookie-cutter essay, here are the top three reasons why I don’t write:

1. I Eat. Eating is more than just a process to reenergize your body. Eating is fun, social, and exciting. Why would I isolate myself in front of a blank word document when I could surround myself with friends and family at the dinner table? Why would I spend time building sentences, when I could be building an epic sandwich? Why would I attempt to prove a thesis when I could attempt to prove that I can, in fact, shove 5 marshmallows in mouth? Mealtime is my time to sit back, relax, and enjoy good food and great friends. I will never sacrifice a pastry for a paper. Just some food for thought.

2. I sing. I don’t sing professionally, with a group, or even well, for that matter. I sing because I like it. I sing in the car, in my room, with my friends, and obviously in the shower. The best part (and most distracting part) about living with friends is that it’s always okay to be goofy. I often sit down to start an essay and somehow end up standing on a chair belting out the words of my assignment prompt to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.”

3. I explore. I’m no couch potato. Besides my occasional lazy-sundays spent watching movies on ABC family, I’m typically out and about, taking advantage of the daylight. Writing is a stationary activity. Sometimes I rather walk, or run, or jump on a trampoline, or choreograph a dance to a Hilary Duff song.

All jokes aside, writing is an essential part of today’s society. It’s the best medium to share ideas, stories, and information. Words rekindle friendships, educate the public, and ignite revolutions. While eating, singing, and even exploring will maintain their importance in my life,I plan to continue writing in hopes that my words will someday influence, move, persuade and inspire. I don’t always want to write, but I will always be a writer.

Bagel

I originally wrote this for our “Where I’m From” prompt on the first day of class, but since the Wednesday Word is bagel, I thought this was appropriate to post.

Bagel Master

In the center of the town of Syosset sits Bagel Master– a modest-sized building with a giant flickering neon sign advertising their “Hot Bagels.” Over the years, however, residents have watched as the once bold letters slowly burned out, leaving behind nothing but dull letter-shaped shells. The letter T was the first to go, followed by E and L, so that today, the store advertises something shockingly different: Ho Bags.

Upon entering the joint, customers are greeted by the fishy smells of smoked salmon and baked tuna, masked by the cheap cologne scents worn by the workers behind counter. In the small seating area near the entrance, you can’t help but overhear the talk of the town in between gusts of wind let in by the open door: Sandy’s nose job, the Greenberg’s lawsuit, and of course, the occasional “This is like, way too much cream cheese. I thought I asked for a shmier.”

If you’re just passing through, chances are you won’t be taking your pit stop at Bagel Master. If anything, you’ll hit up the Dunkin’ Doughnuts next door. Only true Syosset residents know that there’s nothing like a Ho Bag to spruce up a Saturday morning- especially after a late-night bar mitzvah Manischewitz bender.

Bagel Master

Blue

Blue was the color my childhood bedroom was supposed to be.

I was three when my family moved out of our Manhattan apartment and into our current suburban Long Island home. In comparison to my crowded bedroom overlooking 86th street, my new, spacious bedroom felt like my very own castle. I was at the peak of my princess phase, after all. I wore tiaras, carried a wand, and refused to respond to any name other than Cinderella. For this, it was no shock to my mom that when given a choice of wall color, I chose pink without hesitation. My mom is an artist, and thus took it upon herself to create the most beautiful walls a young princess could ask for: sponge painted pink complete with a delicate daisy vine trim. It was perfect- for a three year old, that is.

As I grew old, so did my pink walls. Around the age of ten, I entered into my tomboy phase. I played basketball, wore baggy clothing, and loathed anything pink. I remember heated arguments with my mom, begging her to change the color of my walls. I felt like an outsider in the one room I could call my own. Eventually my mom gave in, but under one condition: the daisy trim had to stay.

I remember weeks spent sleeping on an air mattress in my unfurnished, unfinished room. After moving all my furniture into storage, my mom single-handedly re-sponged painted my walls, pressing blue paint over the pink. She worked meticulously and diligently, making sure the daisy trim remained untouched by the blue coloring. Finally, after weeks of work, my mom and I stood back and observed the final product. My walls, once princess pink, were finally…

…purple.

The blue paint had mixed with its pink base to form a pale purple color. I still wonder to this day how we failed to notice the mixing of the colors during the month-long painting process. Although I still wanted blue walls, my mom didn’t care. She was not about to spend another month painting my walls for a third time. Anyway, she considered the paint job a success: along the edges of my new purple walls, remained the original delicate, daisy vine trim.

Winter Rant

I remember cold blizzard nights spent with pajamas worn inside out and spoons carefully placed under my pillow. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve clearly never had a snow day. This was more than just a superstition. It was a way of life. And it worked every time. If for some wild reason I woke up in the morning to discover that school was still open, the reason was clear: it wasn’t the ritual at fault, some dumb kid obviously forgot to put a spoon under his pillow.

Snow days used to be the best part of winter. I loved waking up at dawn and watching the snowflakes fall, each building onto the tidal wave of white pushing up against the outer-walls of my house. My mom would bundle me in layers of clothing, yank the sliding door open and set me free to spend the day exploring the new world that used to be my backyard. I used to build forts, pack snowballs, and dig sled routes for hours. When my toes began to go numb, I would retire to the fireplace to let my body thaw, a cup of hot chocolate waiting for me. Life was easy, and snow was my friend. I wish I could say the same today.

Flash forward ten years: I’ve moved to Michigan, where snow looks more like swamps of grey slush, and the wind hurls hail into my face as I walk to class. Upon hearing my morning alarm, I don’t rush to the window in hopes that an overnight storm has painted my yard white. Rather, I moan at the sight of frozen mush on the sidewalks and streets. This may sound like a testament to my changed character. It may sound like I’m just no longer the vivacious kid I used to be. Yet, I still recognize snow for its beauty- just not when I’m hopscotching around piles of slush and patches of black ice. One day I’ll fully rekindle my relationship with snow. After all, it’s nearly impossible to resist a good snowball fight. But for now, you won’t be finding any spoons under my pillow.

Linda’s Author Bio

Linda Tell is a curious and eager clown fish hailing from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. After a tragic shark accident left her with only one strong fin, Linda spent most of her childhood fighting for a chance to be just like everyone else. Upon entering grade school, Linda was kidnapped by a scuba diver and held captive in a dentist’s fish tank. There, she joined a tribe of outcasts and took on the name Shark Bait (ooh haha). With help from her new friends, she eventually escaped the fish tank and reunited with her father (who she then learned had embarked on a journey of his own to find her). Today, Linda attends the University of Michigan.