words of wisdom from the not-so wise

Ahem. Brace yourself.

To the future writing minors,

First off, welcome.

You are going to have a time, trust me. How that time is…that’s what you make of the minor. I can offer some tips, some warnings, some insight to the amazing work you all will be doing in the coming semester. Brace yourself — whatever you thought about writing, it’s gonna change. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. Regardless, it will change. For me, writing is much more pervasive than I ever imagined. The gateway showed me I can pretty much apply writing to anything and call it a project, as long as I do so with intent and purpose.

As you’ll see, you will reimagine an old work in three different genres via these mini projects. I encourage you to fully experiments with these. It may seem or feel daunting at first, but I promise you, the experiments will be so much more worth it in the end as long as you truly try and give yourself to your work. The minor’s all about stepping outside of your comfort zone.

That being said, don’t half-ass. You all applied to this program, so give it your all. Yes, it may feel overwhelming at times (you will write a lot obviously), but it’s ok, you got this. Leslie Knope’s giving you two thumbs up.

Fully engage with your class to get the most out of your gateway experience. Talk to other students. Some of my best ideas came from the lovely conversations I had with peers. Meet with your professor (T is amazing. I couldn’t have pulled off my final project without her guidance). So when you have questions, ask because your classmates and your professors are there to help you.

Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox. You all have an wonderful class head. I wish you the best.

not there yet

I’m not there yet, with my writer’s manifesto, not yet satisfied with the end product. It’s a bit scattered but so am I.

I purposefully left it open ended, because writing can be so different for everyone. The words I chose I feel can be applied to writing broadly, with a personal twist of my perspective (hence words like nosy ad real). Honestly, if I had more time, I would try to nail those ideas down, but right now I just wanted to get those ideas on paper.

Here is it.

comfort zone, where’d you go

For my experiments in Writing 220, I decided to repurpose a photoblog I made first semester freshman year. The original photos served as inspirational material for my future experiments.

For the first experiment, I made a photobook, a collection of photographs based on a central theme or “artist statement.” This format encouraged me to formalize both the images and the writing from the original blog format. With the photo book, I started off easy, with a vaguely familiar genre and format. To be honest, I stayed safely and well within my comfort zone.

In the second experiment, I got more creative and created the front page of a fictional newspaper, set in an alternate Ann Arbor. I had a lot of fun with the newspaper, which really encouraged me to get creative with my names, places, and stories ideas. I often refrain from creative writing, so the second experiment found me edging away from my comfort zone, into the unknown.

In the third experiment, which I also chose as my final project, I full on dove into the unknown. For someone who does not really like creative writing, I decided to write eight (count ’em EIGHT) short stories based on the original images from the photoblog. Yes, safe to say, I was well out of my comfort zone, but I also really enjoyed toying with the pictures and crafting short stories around them. I set all eight stories in the mind of an unknown narrator, forcing myself (a comfortable narrative writer) to enter the mind of another, a fictictious person, and write from their perspective.

All three experiments helped me explore a variety of genres (do you know how many cheesy explore gifs there are it’s ridiculous). I’m looking forward to completing my final project (well outside my comfort zone).


eight short stories in two short weeks

I met with T after class, which completely changed my plans (in a good way). So for my final project, I look away from the newspaper front page and towards a short story cycle, my third experiment. Quick aside, some background on short story cycles (SSC). SSCs are collections of short stories that can be read as individual pieces, while still connecting/conveying a collective message through the overall work. These connections can be obvious like the same setting or characteristics, or more subtle like themes and moods.


So how will I create this? I will base my SSC based on images from my original material (old photoblog —  I would say check it out but I stupidly tried to change the theme when I really only had twenty minutes to spare so it looks like a mess and oh my god what have I done). The connecting elements will be the setting (Ann Arbor) and the shared, unnamed narrator. I’m also exploring use the changing weather to show the change in time (and maybe a change in the narrator?). I don’t know why I like the weather so much…even experiment two had a lot of weather elements in it.

Ok side note, I got distracted by a bunch of weather gifs, so I decided to share some.

Source: Grist

Source: Dribble

I have mixed feelings about my SSC right now. I think its causing me one part happiness, two parts anxiety, but at the same time, I feel like most writers feel this way with their work. While I enjoy creative writing, I struggle refining my voice to fit the story. I usually write the way I talk (why narratives are my favorite), creative fiction pushes me to adopt the voices of my characters and see personalities outside of myself. I want to push myself out of my writing comfort zone.

To alleviate some of my fears with actually finishing this final project on time, I planned out my future steps. First steps…well honestly actually finish up experiment three. It’s been a rough week so I have a lot of catch up to do. Experiment three will probably have two to three short stories, while the final will have six to seven. I already have the images picked out, so it’s just a matter of writing the stories. Easy peasy right?

Source: Gfycat

Source: Tumblr

The sketch draft will help me layout the foundation of the SSC and the ideas I want to connect throughout the pieces. I already have an idea of what I want to say in some of the stories, which I have included in the sketch draft.

Lastly, my what I’m most looking forward to and least looking forward to….the big one first: finishing on time. Or rather finishing on time with something quality. Because I can easily write a lot (can you tell I’m a rambler), but I don’t know how to ensure its quality. I am, however, looking forward to writing these pieces. As I talk things out, I can see my ideas falling into play, so I am excited to see those through, to see my ideas solidify in my eight short stories in the coming two weeks.

me? a writer…wut

I put off writing this for a week.

Despite writing numerous “why I write”s, I can’t confidently say I know myself as writer. Sure, I constantly appreciate writing in others, in the can’t-put-me-down novel, in the crisp dialogue of a solid movie, or the aesthetics of attractive marketing. We consume writing is a multimodal form, and I find myself writing in this realm. I rarely see myself a purely a writer writing solely for the sake of writing something. I often look to other media — sounds and pictures — to add to my writing. I find often writing or pictures alone cannot fully explain my ideas.

Writing’s pervasive nature appeals to me; I love the way it affects almost everything we do, consciously or not. Even with life-changing technology, from writing letters to drafting emails to sending texts, we constanly use words, pictures, emoticons to express ourselves and share tidbits of our lives with others.

As a writer, I am a communicator. I create pieces to share with others: photo blogs posts, instagram (follow me @ruchitaiyerphotography) pictures and captions, photojournalism. I tried keeping a diary for a year and royally sucked at it because I ran out of things to say about myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love personal writing for the clarity it provides and so often engage in this genre, but I greatly prefer more public forms of writing. That being said, sharing personal writing is hard, and I often distance these two sides of my writing self. The things I write for myself I rarely share with others, and the ones I create publicly I post everywhere.

I wonder if there is a way to bridge the two, if I even should connect them. After all, writing is solely a public endeavor; many people write personal things never to see the light of day or the eyes of another. Others writing smashing novels translated into a bajillion languages to transcend the regional boundaries. I see myself as a writer hovering between these two worlds, dipping my toes on both, yet not fully immersed in either.

At the end of the day, my writing and I, we change constantly. One day it’s for me, another it’s a birthday post for my roommate. But I find an attractive quality in the capricious nature — I wonder what type of writer I will be a month from now. A year?

Needless to say, upon completion, I feel good about this post, as I do with most piece I write. Of course, I may read back on in a couple days and be like what was I thinking. But for now….this is good.