ePortfolio = Improving Self-Worth

Wow, I didn’t know throwing a bunch of words and pictures onto a webpage could increase my sense of self-worth. I have done a substantial amount of creative writing and visual artwork on my own, but have never really been able to express to people how important creativity is to my life. My ePortfolio allowed me to share the creative side of me with other people. Somehow, by writing my ideologies down, it all just became more real to me.

 

Of course, navigating through a new platform (Wix) also helped me to become more tech savvy–which happened to be one of major goals for undergrad. I’m really proud of myself for being able to learn how to dream a webpage and then build it. Although I most definitely had frustrating moments with Wix. The placement of things didn’t always seem super intuitive, but I powered through. And after about the seventh try, it was smooth coasting.

 

So more on the website itself.

Visual aesthetics has always always been very important to me. I’m very pleased with how I was able to format everything, add background images, and display my artwork on my Visual Arts page. Because this website served to paint an accurate portrayal of myself and the creative work I have done, I chose to present myself in a more casual and playful manner. This especially shows through on my About page.
Check it out: http://minna96.wix.com/eportfolio

Hey, over here! Listen to me

Now that I’m an expert (not really) at the writing minor. I’ve got one million sage pieces of advice.

My first piece of advice is listen to Vincent Van Gogh. He said, “I dream my painting and then I paint my dream.” Dream it. Do it. That simple. Forget about what you’re used to doing. The comfort zone is boring and overrated. Tried investigative journalism, not too confident in the genre? Take the risk, write another article in Writing 220. Never did spoken word poetry or messed with video maker? Do it. Your professor and your classmates will beyond support you. They’ll fuel you, you’ll inspire them, and so will they.

Vincent-Van-Gogh
Courtesy of: http://blog.tombowusa.com/2011/03/30/who-said/

 

This class isn’t about Safe. This class is about learning that you’re capable of Executing some obscure Dream you have. That, Reader, is what I believe is the most important lesson of all. An analogy? Well, you should feel like this:

Girl jumping with rose petals in air
Courtesy of: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/more-money-or-more-freedo_n_3624317.html

 

Second piece of advice. Back to Van Gogh’s quote. You might be wondering what painting has anything to do with writing. Well Reader, that is a great point. Painting has everything to do with writing. They’re both all about composition, eliciting emotion, rhetorical strategies (just one uses actual words, the other uses colors and brush strokes). Like Van Gogh’s starry night. Is he persuasive? Perhaps, I can see the stars, the town buildings, the suggested night.

the-starry-night-1889(1)
Courtesy of: http://www.wikiart.org/en/vincent-van-gogh/the-starry-night-1889

 

Many things “count” as writing. Don’t feel constricted by the possibilities. Don’t be discouraged. Think outside the rigid box we’re usually subjected to in our classes.

Third piece of advice:

to_live_a_creative_life____by_vacant_xpressi0ns-d4inuw7
Courtesy of: http://vacant-xpressi0ns.deviantart.com/art/To-Live-a-Creative-Life-273210919

 

 

Putting It All Together

Things are coming along. I’m finishing up my remediation project. I spent a long time last night trying to revise my spoken word poetry script to add more rhyme and repetition into the beginning of the poem. It turned out to be much harder than I thought. I realized that the more I focus on being informative, the harder it is to rhyme/make the words “sound” better, but once I focus on just connecting with the audience it just became much easier.

 

I started rehearsing for my performance on Friday at the Open Mic at North Quad. Ya’ll should come out and see me embarrass myself! Actually no, bad idea. As I told my housemate last night, I have stage fright even without an audience. It’s terrible. And kind of funny. But I think it’ll be fun to try something new. I used to be more involved with performances–piano recitals, musicals, orchestra concerts, etc–and I actually kind of miss it, which is totally surprising. This will be my attempt to reconnect with the performance world, but in a way I’ve never done before.

 

I recorded my rehearsal last night, and definitely had some interesting insights and doubts about myself. I realized the difficulty of stage presence. So I went on Youtube to look up a couple of my favorite spoken word poets to see how they expressed themselves through hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions. I have to say, it ain’t easy. I think I have a tendency to appreciate things a lot more once I attempt to emulate them myself.

 

It’s not going to be a life-changing, epic, grand performance, and I’m sure it won’t be the one of the BEST performances I’ll ever give, since I have absolutely no experience with spoken word poetry. But I’m excited about taking this risk. It doesn’t have to be mind blowing. I would be disappointed if it were so-so, or just plain “okay.” I’m aiming for a solid “good.” “Minna rehearsed a lot, tried really hard, and she really wanted this to work, and it was good.” When it comes to taking risks, sometimes “good” is all you need to be really happy.

 

Noveling & Growth

I think one of the forms of writing I wish I was working on is noveling. Noveling is extremely hard, but rewarding. It takes a lot of planning. You must set aside a huge chunk of time over the course of a few months/year to get it done. It’s definitely a delicate balance between burning yourself out and not having too much time between the times you work on it (or else you’ll forget what’s going on, and then just waste a bunch of time rereading and catching yourself up to what’s already happened. Of course, not that I have any personal experience with that or anything…lol).

 

My plan to engage in novel writing is to write a novel for my honor’s thesis. We’ll see how that goes: P It’ll take a lot of planning, collaboration, yada yada. But I’m honestly really excited for it.

 
On a different note, I think what I learned the most this semester is to just step out of my comfort zone and try new forms of writing. I’ve learned about new resources that can help me with my writing, and exposed myself to new forms of it. The world is so large and exciting, all I have to do is reach out and touch it. Honestly, I love the support I’ve gotten from this class. No idea is too big to achieve, no plans are too out-there. Thanks y’all: )

So You Think You Can Write

For the longest time, I’ve been aware that my answers to the questions “why do you write” and “who do you write to?” is I write to and for myself. No matter if I am writing to my brother, to a class, a population of people, at the end of the day the most consistent “audience” that always sits amongst the crowd is me. I write to capture intense feelings. I write to justify my thoughts, organize them, understand them. I write because I have the urge to tell stories. I write because of my desire to discover things. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve recently developed a draw towards investigative journalism.)

 

I have wondered if this motivation is shallow. Afterall, some of the greatest writers write to shape society. To show people the things that are wrong, to start a political movement, to be Great. Well, I haven’t strived to be Great. I’ve only strived to be myself and listen to the words arranging themselves inside my head.

 

To read Joan Didion and George Orwell’s purpose for writing was somewhat a breath of fresh air. Didion’s words that stuck with me: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I’m seeing.” Orwell’s words: “All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.” It appears that I’m not the only selfish writer.

 

I love Orwell’s point about noveling in this long quote. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of noveling. I have this story that it’s inside my head, needing to get out onto paper. The novel started in a period of my life where I was really lonely.I would distract myself and fill my head with awesome characters and plot twists. Noveling became one of my favorite pastimes.

 

But noveling is hard. I spend hours rearranging words on one-tenth of a page, and there’s thousands of on-tenths of a page needing to be written. In an unpractical manner, I’ve approached my novel writing in the way I’d approach journaling. I would rely on emotional inspiration to write. When I felt great happiness, I’d want to capture that feeling into my novel. When I felt great sadness, I’d want to capture that with my characters as well.

 

That’s not practical, given that they’re a larger plot going on. You’re not supposed to make the characters happy and sad, then happy and sad again without justifying it with something in the story. Or else it would make the characters seem really emotionally unstable…

 

It’s a struggle. A beautiful struggle. Beautiful in the way that I get to look back to page 3, or page 15, or page 76, and think to myself, Wow, I did a pretty dang good job, can’t believe I was capable of writing that. It’s also beautiful in the way that sometimes the stories tell themselves. I discover as I write, write as I discover. These two things are superglued to each other. Because of this, writing is incredibly personal.
Funny enough, you are justifying yourself when you’re justifying the quality of your work to other people. I have usually withheld judgement of my own writing. Of course I am my worst critic when putting pen to paper. But when the product is done, reached the maximum potential I envisioned for it, I no longer have an inkling of a clue whether or not it’s Fantastic or Mediocre. I’ve found myself thinking as an afterthought, moments after winning awards for my writing, “Oh yeah, maybe that was a pretty good piece of writing.” I guess that’s the exciting–and frustrating–part. You never know how good you are until you’re showing your work to an outside audience–taking a risk and subjecting your voice and thoughts to other people’s criticism.

The Wonders of iMovie

To put it simply, I have zero experience with making videos. I have had mixed feeling about it. First I thought it would be easy. Video clip, audio clip, put them together, voila! Couldn’t be too hard right?  

Then I watched my friend do it.

Of course he was adding subtitles. Each word had to match the exact second it was said. Which, needless to say, took a ton of work. Not to mention the complications of translating stuff. He wanted to incorporate both English and Mandarin subtitles. The challenge that comes with that is balancing direct translations with translations that summarize the meaning of what is said, and then adding timing of the subtitles into the equation. Fun.  

All these thoughts settled in the back of my mind as I pulled up iMovie. Of all the spoken word poetry clips I watched on Youtube, a good portion of them utilized a soundtrack and cool video effects. So I decided to broaden my horizons and try out a video-maker app.

To my relief, iMovie is pretty straightforward to use. I love how when I first opened the app, it showed a bunch of really great examples with awesome effects.

I uploaded a small clip, cut it up, and also added a few images just to practice editing. The app automatically added its own transitions and captions for me, which was absolutely awesome. It was also super easy to adjust the amount of time I wanted the video to focus on an image that I inserted.

Managing the soundtrack was just as easy. I could click and drag when I wanted the audio to start.

I could overlap audio clips, trim the audio clip to the section I wanted. And to make the transition of the audio clip, I could make the music start soft and grow louder with a simple click and drag.
This app is amazing. There is hope for tech dummies like me after all.

Spoken Word Poetry

I have thought about several possible remediation projects, and I have to say, I am a little surprised by how a spoken word poetry project has appealed to me the most. Thinking back, my only ”contact”/”exposure” to spoken word poetry was through my best friend. She was crazy about several spoken word poets. The one that really stuck with me most was Sarah Kay. I love her stage presence and the poetic nature of her script. Two of my favorite pieces by her:

 

“Point B”

https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter?language=en

“An Origin Story”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esgfG3BoAPc

 

The thing about spoken word poetry is that it is a much more personal form of media than an investigative journalist article. The tone of my article turned out to be much more objective. So one of the major things about doing a spoken word poetry remediation project would be for me to rewrite my script to be more personal and “poetic,” much less heavy on the scientific side of things.

 

I would also have to think about performing my piece; spoken word poetry is about performance after all. The thing is, I have litting experience with filming things, so I’m a little intimidated by how that will work out. Perhaps I could just recruit a friend to film me with a phone. Or I could only write a script as the project itself….

 

John Oliver

One of my favorite things to catch up on is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight videos. It is an interesting dynamic given that he uses digital rhetoric within his show that is captured BY digital rhetoric.

The majority of the video is of him educating the audience on a particular subject. With occasional images, quotes, and videos to supplement his argument. Each of these things provides important detail, helps to build ethos and pathos, as well as provides a context for the exigence of the topic, and provides important detail.

Besides the use of digital rhetoric in his direct argument, digital rhetoric is involved in filming the entire episode. When filming, the camera person has to be cognizant of the angle to capture John Oliver’s face, how zoomed in the camera should be, etc. These things, no matter how seemingly trivial, impacts how the audience perceives the argument being made, and essentially influences John Oliver’s ethos.

Since there is an audio component to the video, it also plays a factor in building ethos. A huge part of this is tone. Sarcasm is something that is used a lot in the video, which is really important for the audience to pick up on in order to fully understand the argument being made.

All of these things–the use of images, videos, audio, tone, angle of the camera–all add up to persuasive strategy. It is fascinating to see how all these things come together. If the argument John Oliver made were instead on a flat sheet of paper, it would be much less engaging and exciting.

Delete. Delete. Deleeeetttttttttteeeee……

That’s what I found myself doing to my Repurposing project. Simultaneously, it was a relief, and anxiety-causing. I was relieved because I started realizing what I wanted to say. Worried, because I watched my page numbers dwindle. But that seems to be the standard procedure for writing investigative journalist pieces (not that I have much experience given this is my second article…). But as people say, your assets are often a selective sample from your entire pool of research. I am still grappling with not including all of my research, since some of the things I’ve come across are extremely interesting. But effective writing isn’t More, it’s Lessorganized in a way that maximizes your use of rhetorical strategies (One of the lessons I learned from revising my first investigative journalist piece.).

 

So a little bit on my revision plan…My topic is on why people don’t like country music. At first my target audience was for non-fans. I found myself addressing all the reasons why people don’t like country music, and because people’s reasons were so complex, I found myself juggling one million concepts at once. That wasn’t working.

 

What needed to happen was for me to narrow stuff down and pick a single thing that I really wanted to address. After talking with my group members and Naomi about a revision plan, I started thinking about refocusing my article to addressing what “country music” means to three different groups of people: non-fans, fans, and singers. Now, as I am reconstructing my article (Not quite starting from scratch. Since of course I keep everything I’ve written in a separate document no matter if I use it or not.), I’ve realized it might be more interesting to focus on what country music means to fans and non-fans, and what that tells ussociety/the readerabout the role of music in our lives. Interesting transition. So far it’s working. We’ll see where my next draft takes me…

 

Cutting the Fat & Finding the Right “Voice”

Words don’t come easily for me. It often takes several drafts before something sounds the way I want it to. That said, I think I am still at the stage where all my sentences are only just perfunctory–to capture my thoughts as I fiercely scribbled them down. I have yet to “cut the fat” and delete the fill in words. But my voice and style is in there, I’ve just got to work a little harder to dig it out.

5

   Something I have noticed: I’ve always liked inserting myself into the narrative, but I am finding that since I’m talking about a more sensitive topic, it might be better with I wrote the article in third person. This is quite hard, since the project is as much a personal journey as it is something created to educate my audience.

   Also, because I’m talking about a sensitive topic, potentially walking the fine line of being culturally sensitive and addressing racism, I have to pay special attention to what I say and HOW I say it.

frustrated_kid_at_computer
   It’s not easy. But like all pieces of writing, all I need is more time and some good ol’ advice.