Challenge Journal, On Scene Writing

I don’t think I know how to write anymore and that is my current problem. A pretty pressing one for that matter since our project is due in TWO WEEKS. But it’s fine, I’m fine. I’m totally ok, and I’m not freaking out at all.

But, ok, I straight up don’t know how to do scene writing anymore. I can write academically with such ease. Having practiced it each semester in whatever comm class I was enrolled it, I’m not longer stressed about or challenged by it. But as I sit with my suggestions from workshop last week which were to paint vivid scenes so my audience can gain a sense of how I felt in those moments, I simply can’t do it! It takes me hours, I’m not joking hours, to write maybe one page double-spaced. Only 20 more pages and COUNTLESS hours to go!!! An otherwise enjoyable situation as I can just sit and write all day, the looming deadline is cranking up the pressure and consequently making these hours the longest and hardest part of my day. Not to mention that I don’t have the next two weeks to vacation from the rest of my responsibilities and focus only on this project. Ahh, finals.

Looking back on my previous writing, I found my English 125 literacy narrative. It was the first assignment in my freshman year writing class and ultimately the one I chose to repurpose for my gateway. In the essay I talk about the transition from high school to college and my evolving relationship with music. I take the reader through fond childhood memories, life as a theatre kid, and the rollercoaster of a ride up to Michigan. Looking back, I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I can’t even believe I could write like that, blending emotion, scenery, characters, action, and more so seamlessly. Re-reading this piece I hoped it would rekindle this kind of spark. But, of course it didn’t do that.

I searched and searched within the piece for a way it could help me now, but I simply couldn’t find it. Returning to work on my capstone piece after thinking maybe it subconsciously did something for me, I froze at my computer. In the coming hour, I remained stilted as opposed to at ease.

I guess my question would then be, got any suggestions? I’m paralyzed with fear that my project won’t become something I’m proud of because of the time required to craft scenes I barely enjoy re-reading. Any tips on how to do better than I’m doing right now?

Challenge Journal, On Time

Settling into my third genre over the course of the semester, I finally feel comfortable. The words truly flow from my fingers at this point and thank God because they surely weren’t before. While I am so happy with the satisfaction I feel in my new genre, as I can now produce something to be proud of, my only lingering concern is time.

Everything came crashing down Sunday night as a prepared to hand in my rough draft. Feeling a palpable disconnect from the work I had produced, I hastily decided to scrap it all and start anew. Terrifying at the time, but worth it beyond belief. Looking forward I’m excited about the project to be completed. I finally found something that will accomplish the goals I set for myself way back in January. But I can’t shake the question in the back of my mind asking, will I?

I faced a similar scenario first semester junior year. For my journalism and social change class’s final project, in groups we had to pitch an investigative journalism project to the class. My group rolled with the first thing we thought of for a bit before realizing we had to change our topic. A few days before it was due, we were scrambling to deliver the high quality project we were hoping for. As a result, we didn’t.

While this is pretty different than my situation now as I’m pressed for weeks instead of days and I don’t have to be burdened with satisfying a group, I can’t help but think about this experience as I head into the final stages of my project. I know that I have enough time to complete something satisfactory, but I also know I’ll always be thinking that it could have been better had I been sitting with it for longer. Personally, my ideas develop over time so when I’m pressed they don’t come to me as readily. It’s when I’ve been ruminating over something for a while when my best ideas come out. So, I can’t help being anxious about the fact that my project could have been better.

Any suggestions on how to make the most out of the time I have left?

Challenge Journal, On Next Steps

Before I delve into my project woes, I’ll explain: my project will come to form as a zine (self-published magazine) that tackles the question of how women can thrive in the entertainment industry. Straying somewhat from the current conversation of sexual harassment, my zine will comprise of research (via interviews, books, news sources, etc.) on how women in entertainment are impacted by occupying a male-dominated work environment. In my proposal, I planned to create this zine that will encompass a personal reflection on what drove me to this topic; advice, stories, tips, and strategies for women entering and/or currently inhabiting the business; as well as perspective for men to understand that which they do not experience.

Currently, I’m all in on the research phase of my project. I’ve conducted one interview (with a couple more scheduled), I’m almost done the book Winning in a Man’s World, and I’m trying to understand the ins and outs of a zine. However, in the midst of all my research I’m finding more and more that I don’t know what I want my final product to be. While the initial idea of a zine was captivating, I’m finding myself lost in the various genres I could pursue: fiction, magazine-style interview, children’s book, video essay, the list goes on and on.

In my Communications capstone course last semester, we conducted semester long projects on the industry of our choice. One assignment was a paper and presentation on the history of the digital transition in that industry. When working on this project I faced a similar dilemma: while I had a wealth of resources and research, I struggled so much with digesting and presenting that information. In the end, I miraculously found a focal/turning point that made everything else fall into place. It turned out that one piece of information I stumbled across on YouTube put my entire project into perspective and put all the rest of my research efforts in line.

Although my current problem is a little different, in both cases I had information but didn’t know what to do with it or how to organize it. Obviously I can’t sit waiting for a fateful moment to make everything fall into place. But although this experience was a happy accident, it does reassure my current process for this project. Moving forward, as I continue researching, one of my primary focuses will be exploring how I can insert my topic into another genre. While this idea has floated around in my mind for a bit, concretely talking about it in this journal entry has sparked my need to put this desire into action. My hope is that in researching different genres, something will light that fire under my feet and invigorate my project.

Challenge Journal, On Ritual

Before I write, I don’t think about how the creation of a piece will come to form. I sit in the library, with a tea in hand and ten hours of ocean waves crashing through my headphones, staring at a blank page waiting for my fingertips to start typing something. This something could manifest as an opening paragraph, a brainstorm of topics, a note on what to research, or whatever. There’s no tried and tested method I have that gets me into the swing of writing. The only thing I can guarantee that will precede the creation of a work is my tea and the ocean’s waves. So, according to Tharp and her ‘wake up, get in the cab’ ritual, this would be my ritual for writing. But, I don’t consider it so, as it is my ritual for everything that requires focus. It doesn’t spark the wheels of creativity or massage my brain into action, but instead it signals to me that it is time to do what I need to do.

My relationship with rituals is complicated. More recently, the crumbling of day-to-day rituals has left me lost in its debris. My life used to run on a schedule like it was a well-oiled machine, making my every day life a ritual in itself. While this appears under the guise of routine, this routine was actually a sacred ritual. Each action meant more than the action itself. My nutritional routine signaled to me that I took care of my body and what I put in it, as did my workout routine. My study habits indicated that I was working hard, taking school seriously, adequately preparing for working life, and being productive. Even the time allotted to spend with my friends had purpose and necessity, as that was the part of my day that made all the other arduous and tedious tasks seem worth it. As a result, the ways in which I conducted everyday life used to be a ritual. But such is not that case anymore, as I have begun to give into immediate desires rather than entrusting my rituals as they became too routine. The daunting thought of waking up to perform every single ritual became far too heavy for me to bear. In effect, I feel lost and confused without the comfort of familiarity to turn to. And what’s harder is trying to reignite the rituals that once guided my life, as they seem just so demanding. The notion of ritual then looks paradoxical, as it is something both of necessity and destruction.

What does this mean for the ritual I must create around the practice of writing? In my life I have clearly learned that rituals are as good as they are bad. When it works, it works and it works well. But only because I am a slave to it and because, as Tharp says, I “do it without questioning the need.” The independence I gain from abandoning ritual consequently turns life upside down and therefore makes me feel even more dependent on ritual.

So where do I go from here?

As I think about developing a ritual to help me exercise creativity as a habit, I wonder if it will even do me any good. In performing the same action prior to every writing exercise, what if it becomes to weary and daunting to even perform, making me lose my way once again? Tharp notes “by making the start of the sequence automatic, they replace doubt and fear with comfort and routine.” But my problem was in beginning to doubt and fear the comfort and routine in my daily life. Therefore, my writing ritual must consist of an anti-ritual of sorts. Something that I do every time I begin writing however something that doesn’t remain static. Perhaps the spontaneity of the ritual will enhance my creative process rather than stifle my excitement towards starting. While I could come up with a laundry list of ideas now, I figured it would be ineffective without trial and error. So, I’m curious to see where my experimentation with rituals takes me and in turn to see how it will affect my writing.

Why I Write: My Voice

When presented with the question of whether or not my Why I Write draft is in my voice, I dreaded this response because I didn’t know what my voice was. But lo and behold, in the archives of my blog posts is one describing just that. So, after re-reading my post dictating my voice as a writer in terms of performance, theme/topic, personality, and formal markers and then re-reading my Why I Write draft, I found my answer. My Why I Write piece embodies my voice to a tee.

My voice is distinguishable by its articulate nature, its honesty, passion and intimacy, and its focus on the arts and entertainment. In my Why I Write piece I emphasize the motives behind my desire to write revolving around my fervent love of the arts and the experiences and challenges I have encountered that guided me to become the writer I am today. Everything about my piece fits perfectly into what demarcates my voice as a writer. When re-reading my voice blog post I reacted with surprise because, besides forgetting that I had written it ergo what I wrote about, I was shocked at not only how accurate it was but how much it informed the contents of my Why I Write piece.

I would say that every paper I have written has been distinct in utilizing this voice, casting a uniform and cohesive blanket over all my writing works. I weave my voice into my academic and informal compositions, writing with a means that justifies its end. In order for me to produce a good piece, it involves emptying the contents of my mind onto a document regardless of how terrible it is or painful to read over. Consequently, my voice is captured in these raw ideas that soon become eloquent phrases and insightful arguments. My Why I Write draft is the perfect exemplification of this.

How I Make Reading Enjoyable

I believe I made it obvious enough today in class about my reading habits: I don’t have any. Reading for me has always been a chore, something I have to do in order to write an essay, craft an assignment, or participate in class. Of the books I grew up reading throughout junior, middle, and high school, not many fond memories come to mind. I loathed The City of Ember, was extremely confused by The Yellow Wallpaper, and fought off sleep when reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Because of this, I guess I’ve become accustomed to associating reading with hatred and boredom.

However, I recognize its importance. My father has stressed to all his children throughout our lives that reading was the primary avenue through which he learned life’s most crucial lessons and vital information. In more recent years (my time in college), I’ve come to understand books as tools of learning. I discovered that my niche is in the memoir/autobiography genre, having read that of L.A. Reid and Clive Davis this past year. But through this discovery I also came across another: I hate having to actually read. The physical act of cozying up in bed or on the couch and sitting there for hours to read feels unproductive to me. While I know that I am doing something, when at the end of a couple hours I proudly look back at all the pages I’ve read, I still feel this unsettling sentiment that I am wasting my time.

Recently, as Lindsey also vocalized today, I have made a more conscious effort to be more productive in my downtime, finding ways to make mundane and uneventful situations beneficial. My first step towards this ended up being the solution to my disdain towards reading: audiobooks. I speculated that everyday, I probably spend an average of a couple hours listening to music, be it on my commute to classes or my time at the gym. I decided that in order to use this time more effectively, I would listen to audio books. The other day I started Gloria Steinem’s latest book “My Life on the Road.” So far, this strategy has seemed to combat my hatred for sitting down and reading while simultaneously achieving my goal of using my time effectively. I’m still grappling with the large time investment that books demand, however I truly hope that I become fonder of reading, or rather listening to, books. Because, I genuinely value learning and recognize books as an essential piece of that puzzle.

Zeno’s Paradox

From what I gathered in class pertaining to Zeno’s Paradox, I’m not going to lie when I say that I was and still am pretty confused. But, I’ll entertain the conceptions I have about the paradox in an attempt to disprove Zeno. Amalgamating what I understand, Zeno’s Paradox speaks to how the distance between any two end points can be infinitely halved, thus somehow alluding to the fact that as far as we may move, we have never really started. Where Zeno is wrong lies in his distinction between a halfway point and an end point.

Let’s say I am leaving my apartment to go to Espresso Royale around the corner, that is my destination. Once I had gotten there, I would have had to pass by Replenish which lies halfway between my start and end points. What differs between Espresso and Replenish is that one was a destination whereas the other was an end point. Zeno posits that each end is in fact a halfway, which I can derive some merit from in that we always keep going and move forward. However, in that moment, Espresso was an end point; it existed as such and it was reached.

I am unsure as to whether this argument is making any sense spelled out into words as it does (/still doesn’t) in my head, but I’m trying to make a case that yes, a destination can simultaneously be the starting point of another journey, however that does not take away its position as an endpoint at the time.

10 Questions – Repurposing

  1. What changed when music became more digitalized?
  2. How was music listened to then vs. how it is listened to now?
  3. How did this change impact listeners and culture?
  4. What generational differences are present as a result?
  5. Who is most affected by the difference ultimately? The audience or the artist?
  6. How do experiences of music, with friends, in a community, or in solitude, truly differ?
  7. Which way of listening is better?
  8. How does the experience of where you were or whom you were with when you first heard to a song or an album really affect someone and their interaction with music?
  9. Have we become accustomed to listening to music in a way that doesn’t allow society to share the same kind of cultural currency or shared experience?
  10. What can be done in this day and age to emulate what once was, making music a more unifying experience?

I think that in terms of what I need to give the reader in order for them to engage in my piece is the idea that this information is relevant to their lives, whether they are active in acknowledging it or not. Music is something that permeates the everyday lives of so many. Regardless of the difference between people who live for music and those who don’t much care for it, music is something inescapable in society. Whether you hear is at a bar, on a TV show, when working out at the gym, or as you walk to class, we all experience music one way or another, intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, the discussion of the evolution of music listening practices and the implications of that progression applies to so many. Consequently, I feel that as long as I construct my paper in a way that makes the information applicable to the audience, regardless of how avid of music listeners they are, it will keep them engaged.

That being said, I think that the reader already possesses knowledge about how music is listened to. Be it on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, YouTube, etc., everyone knows how to access music if they so desire. As well, I would say that people are relatively familiar with the earlier practices of music listening i.e. via the radio, buying records, watching MTV, etc. This topic doesn’t really require the reader to have an extensive amount of background knowledge, as music listening is so prevalent that it’s common sense among many.

Digital News Sources

The word news takes on a different meaning for me than what is traditionally recognized as the demarcating topics of “news.” While people automatically think about politics, business, the economy, and other sophisticated subjects, I’m more of an arts section/pop culture news kind of person. For me, my go-to news source, which encapsulates everything I love and feel that I need to know about, is Complex Magazine. They contain the latest information and updates on anything and everything pop culture. With a specifically tailored market at lovers of hip-hop music and hypebeast style, I spend hours upon hours reading every article they publish. However, in addition to getting my up-to-date news on the latest in the lives of stars like Rihanna or Kendrick Lamar, Complex also provides me with straightforward coverage of A-list current events. So, while being a hub for celebrity-obsessed personnel like myself, Complex also reports on the most important happenings around the world. They keep their audience well informed on significant issues and worldly updates while never saturating their articles with terminology and subjects that would turn their readers away.

Now, while I recognize that this answer is unoriginal, it reigns true for me in concurrence with some of my other classmates that Buzzfeed qualifies as a news source that is “too dumb.” If I’m being honest, I’ve never really given Buzzfeed News a try. Rather, my use of the Buzzfeed website has primarily consisted of taking quizzes on things like what my post-breakup haircut should be. However, with that being my most prevalent interaction with the site, I infer the sophistication of its news to be below my level. Even though I am no newspaper connoisseur, Buzzfeed’s reputation as the leader in clickable nonsense targeted at anyone trying to procrastinate discounts it as a desirable news source to me. With a homepage containing pictures of food, dogs, babies, and tags like “cute,” “fail,” and “wtf,” I just can’t bring myself to use it as an information source.

On the other side of the spectrum, I shield myself from news sources like The Wall Street Journal. As I’ve made pretty clear by now, I do not bode well with the complex and scholarly subject matter that is pervasive in their articles. When I go to their site and see political and financial jargon in addition to the little sidebar that is updating me on the stock market, I immediately close the page. For the most part, it’s not that I don’t think I’m intelligent enough to handle the themes and issues that The Wall Street Journal reports on. Rather, I just don’t care enough to invest my time in reading about topics I probably have a hard time initially grasping. My interests lie more in what critics are saying about Travis Scott’s new album release over how Exxon’s accounting practices are being investigated in pertinence to how the firm values its oil wells.

My Voice

Even when broken down into 4 sub-categories, it is still difficult for me to pinpoint my voice as a writer. As we discussed in class on Tuesday, I fall into the category of those who are able to recognize what is not consistent with their writing style, however they have a hard time identifying just what that style is. So, in this blog post I will try my best to do just that and determine what distinguishes me as a writer, as it pertains to my voice.

When analyzing my performance, my writing sounds nothing, yet everything, like myself. All the thoughts and emotions are there, and if I were to say them aloud it would be the same content within my writing. However, when I take a pen to those thoughts I tend to embellish and ornament them with what I think is fancy words and immaculate organization. I sound much more refined, articulate, well spoken, and profound in my writing than I do in spoken word.

Thematically, I definitely notice a pattern across most of my writing pieces. I am frequently drawn to write about music and the craze that surrounds those who make the music I take interest in. While I cannot create or produce music in any way, I am very fervent about the industry as well as music and music makers’ influence on society and culture. My particular interests lie mostly in the hip-hop/rap and R&B realm, as well as the superstars and underdogs within those genres.

Personality wise, I find my writing to be quite candid and passionate. In my writing, there is no beating around the bush or ambiguity. Also, if I am taking the time to write about something, I probably have very strong feelings towards it and want to communicate those feelings powerfully and effectively. My passion in writing often catalyzes a certain intimacy as I rarely hold back my feelings, thoughts, opinions, and experiences, divulging everything I know and feel about the topic. As well, I would find my writing critical in large part. I try to not take things at face value, challenging what is presented to me and even what I think about the subject.

As for my formal markers, I tend to use the same diction and transitional words in the vast majority of works. Although my writing has definitely evolved throughout the duration of my time in college, when I looked back at pieces, even dating back to freshman year, I found lots of parallels to my writing now in that I am still using the same vocabulary bank. As well, I tend to begin each piece of writing with a strong way to hook my audience and end my pieces with powerful concluding statements. When completing an assignment or a piece, I typically spend the most time deliberating how to open and close it. I want my readers to be engaged at the offset and finish with something that sticks.

Amalgamating all of this information and trying to identify its origin is debatably more difficult than fleshing it out in the first place. How I acquired this voice that I just described? To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. If I were to guess, I think that my writing style initially developed out of my desire to sound knowledgeable and insightful. Up until quite recently, and even still a little today, I was a very self-conscious writer. I used to be extremely anxious to share my work because I feared judgment and I feared sounding unintelligent. Therefore, I guess I implemented the voice I have now in an effort to impress those who read my work. While I recognize that this reasoning may sound shallow and make my work seem artificial, as it could come across that I only write this way so people think of me as an intellect, above all else my voice as a writer is an accurate reflection of me as a person, or rather who I wish to be.