The end is near, but not in sight – Challenge Journal #4

Hello blog, we meet again. I’ve noticed a pattern of my posts – essentially I complain and you listen. So thanks for that. But while I’m only completely terrified of what this next week will entail, I’m going to try my best to remain positive in this post.

I want to reflect on my Gateway project because a) I have not had the chance to do that yet, and b) I have found myself in the same spot I was in during that project (learning from past mistakes is a myth, right?). For starters, I was over-ambitious. Which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t always a bad thing. For this minor especially, I think it’s a good thing to dream big. The obstacles that present themselves during the journey, however, make it so, so difficult to fulfill expectations.

With my gateway, I never struggled producing content. I had a vision and was able to fill in the content for that vision, but with regards to my remediation, I fell utterly short. Granted, I’m no expert with film and I stepped out of my box for that. So, naturally, for my capstone I chose something content heavy: fiction. Of course, now I’m struggling with producing content.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from both these projects is that the type of writing you’re doing requires many different muscles. As obvious as this realization may be to everyone else, I have to admit when I chose to write fiction I thought I was choosing something I could easily crank out consistently and with high quality. And while I’ve been able to write it, it has been anything else but consistent and at this moment in time and am questioning the quality. I’m hoping that this next week of consistent (and all day every day) time dedicated to this project will help solidify the quality I’m working for, but as with the gateway, I have found myself in the last week of hell.

So, in the effort of remaining positive, I accept this challenge of whatever this week of work entails (although I tried my best to avoid it). Let’s see what we can do.

Dear Wall, Please Go Away

Well. 13 days remain. 15 if you live a dangerous life.

Prior to starting this project, I had so many hopes and dreams and could clearly picture exactly what I wanted to get out of this project. The sad thing is, I still have this feeling. I still know what I want to get out of this project and I can literally see results that I have generated throughout the course. But for some reason, I. Cannot. Write. More. Yes, I know, “writer’s block is perfectly normal, blah blah blah.” I get it. We’ve all had it before and we’ve all found a way to fix it. And granted, my fix will probably come the night of 4/21 before class as I fear Ray’s disappointed, horrified look if I don’t come with something resembling a finished project. But I just don’t understand why I cannot generate words at an appropriate time, like when I’m staring at my computer for hours on end.

And it’s not like I’m not trying. I think it’s fair to speak for everyone in this course when I say that we are all trying our best. But there’s just a point in which us trying doesn’t seem to be helping us climb over the wall blocking whatever beautiful, perfectly written project awaits on the other side.

So, here’s to hoping we find our way to the other side. Even if I have to crash over Humpty Dumpty style, that’s fine with me. And I wish I could provide some motivational story about how I’ve encountered this block before in prior classes, but those prior classes have never had such a meaning to me. I chose my project because I care about it. So I think this notion of “this must be perfect, Anne” glaring me in the face is the reason for these troubles. Either way, buckle up folks. These 13 days are gonna be a ride of a lifetime.

Challenge Journal #2

Well, folks. Here I am writing my second journal and it’s only…4 weeks late. I think that speaks to how this semester is going for not only me, but also some other peers I have spoken with (Okay, just Abby, you caught me). But in all honesty, this semester was supposed to be easy. I mean chilling on the couch all day doing nothing easy. Needless to say, it hasn’t been. And why? Not because I have more on my plate than I have in the past, because I definitely have the same if not less. But more so because this capstone project isn’t something you can just do. It’s kind of like my puppy – you think you have this great thing going and you’re excited about it and then it shits all over your floor. And then you take a little time to “train” it and coddle it to make it as good as possible… and then it eats a tennis ball and needs emergency surgery. And the roller coaster of “wins” to “losses” keeps going for basically forever.

This project has many highs and lows. I’ve learned a lot from it that I haven’t learned in previous writing classes I’ve taken. Normally, and granted I’m not proud of this, I would grab some Redbull and 5 Hour Energy the night before an essay was due and write it all night. Although it was stressful, I got it done and I got it done well (I’m not sure if I want to provide textual evidence for this claim, so just believe it). But this, this isn’t something I can just pull out of my ass overnight. I’ve tried writing bits and pieces of it like that, and maybe it’s because my new old-person bedtime is 10pm now, but it really just hasn’t been working. So I guess my point is that this project is different and I’ve been learning how to deal with these differences throughout the semester. Perhaps I could’ve chosen an easier topic, but this project just seems so important that I feel like it should be a struggle, y’know? I guess we’ll see how it turns out – and I’m sure hoping it doesn’t seem like it was written overnight.

Challenge Journal #1

The last day of Gateway was the first day I can remember thinking about the topic of my Capstone, but honestly, I was probably stressing over it way prior to that. I have lived life as a planner: my 10-year plan has been followed to a tee, my to-do lists have taken up the pages of many journals, and my mind is always thinking about the next thing I need to check off after I finish what I’m currently working on. And while I wanted to have a magical moment in which my Capstone topic appeared in front of me that last day of class, it never came. It still hasn’t come. And to me that is utterly terrifying.

I can say, however, one thing about my Capstone project I have known is that I want to write fiction. Anything fiction will suffice. And the reason for this is not because it’s my favorite genre to write (although it is), it’s because my entire education since middle school has been dedicated to developing the skills to write an academic report. It started with three paragraph essays, then evolved to five, then ten, then God knows how many paragraphs in a 50-page strategic analysis. The education system, in my experience at least, completely ignored the realm of fictional narrative. While I did have some opportunities to write more casual essays, they were still based on a scholarly topic. For example, during my sophomore year of college, I indulged in writing a Sutra for my Intro to Buddhism class. The assignment was to change the main message of the Lotus Sutra to reflect a different meaning of enlightenment. The overall form resembled that of a narrative, but the way in which it was presented was strict and the message was deeply rooted in the beliefs of Buddhists. It allowed some avenue for creativity, but ultimately controlled the boundaries of its path.

Thus, we end where I am today: forming an entire project on the basis of rejection for my previous experiences. To say my prior work has influenced my Capstone is an understatement. My prior work is the reason for this Capstone. Although unplanned and terrifying, the potential for creativity and learning the ins-and-outs of fiction is part of my education that I’m finally excited about.

The Voice

While completing my “Why I Write” assignment, I wasn’t really focused on writing. It was late, I wanted to go to bed, but I had a spark of motivation to do it mid teeth-brushing, so I decided to get it done. I whipped it up in about twenty minutes, and then closed my laptop and went to bed.

The next day, I re-read what I had written, and was surprisingly shocked. It sounded like my typical writing style and it had some pretty decent points in it. The piece was most definitely written in my “voice” and didn’t fall short from what writing style I typically produce.

In class we were also asked if it was written in one of the many voices that you have, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure if I have multiple voices. I’m not actually quite sure what my voice is either, I just know it when I see it. Maybe I do have multiple voices, as I feel like it’s difficult not to change the voice for different types of writings, but I think it’s safe to assume that they all derive from one overarching voice that I always somewhat write in even though sometimes it’s adapted.

In regards to the content of my “Why I Write,” I can assure that the content is very specific to myself. I give concrete examples for why I wrote in different periods of my life, allowing the reader to hear about my journey but apply the feelings and reasons to their own life. As a result of this, the reader is able to appreciate my story but then also think about their own more in depth.

Anne Reading? Heh.

The most difficult part of reading for me is sticking with it. If I read a book, I have to read it in one sitting or have a few days available for me to delve into it. If I don’t, then the issue arises of me trying to start where I left off, not remembering what happened prior, having to re-read the portion I had already read previously, and then normally giving up before reaching any new material because I get bored.

Ways to solve this issue:

  • Allow a large time slot and provide myself with a cozy place to lay down to read. This normally occurs in the summertime at my cottage where there are no obligations, pure sunshine all the time, and the nice background music of Lake Huron.
  • Find better books. I like to try new books all the time that aren’t popularly read or very well known. While this works out often, it also doesn’t work out often. Doing more research about what I’m reading could potentially eliminate the disappointments of some books and rid myself of the hit to my motivation to read.
  • Staying away from people. Literally no one in my life ever stops talking. My mother, Abby, you name it. I either need to buy some muzzles or follow the cheaper route of just locking myself somewhere away from humanity for a little while.

If Zeno Successfully Walks Anywhere, He Already Has Contradicted Himself

After Googling what Zeno’s Paradox is (no, I didn’t look at the “answer”), there was an example of Achilles and the tortoise given. It talked about how the tortoise started 100 meters ahead in a race and that because Achilles started later, he will never be able to surpass the tortoise because every half way point he reaches, the tortoise as already surpassed.

First of all, we all know how this classic story ends: The tortoise wins because Achilles (or the hare) was goofing off and lost the race. That’s irrelevant to the point, but either way, Achilles does in fact pass the tortoise at some point. We know this because motion is a thing.

I think the largest part that is wrong with Zeno’s paradox is that he doesn’t consider an end point. If the motion at hand is unbounded, then yes, he could be correct in saying that you are always at midpoint of a farther point. If we always walk half the distance of where we want to go, we will never get there. Unfortunately, that’s not how humans work. Because there is an end point, the finish line, the end goal is reached. If you walked to the other end of the table in class, you reached the goal. Once Achilles or the tortoise crosses the finish line, if they were at a midpoint, then what is the end point? Where else are they supposed to be going?

Motion goes forward – you are always moving in a positive direction. Even if you’re moving backward, you’re going in a positive way in an opposite direction. As a result of this, once we take a step, we have physically moved past a point, and leave where we were behind us. The end goal also doesn’t move with each step. Because we go x distance to walk to the end of the table, the table doesn’t get twice as long as x distance in response.



Wait what? Questions for Repurposing

I’ve never heard of this disease, what is it? Do they actually see a real ghost? How did this come about? What was the inspiration for this? Is there a way to know when death is coming? How did the author/characters know what was happening? What happened after the fact? Why did this happen? If they knew what was going to happen, why didn’t they stop it? What is the unknown?

These questions are all great to ask while and after reading my piece-to-be – kind of. I think the most interesting thing about my story is going to be the fact that there aren’t really answers to any of these. I can set up my reader by helping them understand everything I can about the situation: how it came about, what happened in the process, and where my thoughts were after the incident, but everything else is left up to life itself. A lot of these questions are life’s mystery, which adds to the complexity of the piece, but also adds to the entire point of it – that life is full of unknowns. All the reader needs to be able to engage is curiosity of why life does what it does, while also having the seemingly normal human attraction to stories about death.

Good News or Bad News

A lot of news sources are very underwhelming these days, as all of them are focused on the most interesting, normally fabricated events happening around the world. Generally, I feel as if Buzzfeed is the main news that I feel is directed toward me and my generation. It uses a lot of pictures and simple words to help draw people in, as well as providing pointless quizzes that are unfortunately really entertaining to take. I often find that when I read People Magazine that I get the same simple word vibe and lots of pictures. I feel like I need to dumb myself down in order to really enjoy what I am reading. There isn’t really any educational benefit to it, rather, it’s more so reporters twisting the truth to make an entertaining read. I don’t ever read the magazine for news, but I enjoy making jokes about the topics it covers. The crossword is fun to do as well.

One news source I do not enjoy looking at is the Economist. As much as I love reading about the economy, the large buzz words they use to make it sound very intelligent are frustrating and turn me off to the idea of reading about it. Historically, I have not done well in economics classes, so I suppose the topic may be the cause for it seeming too advanced.

The Voice – Writing Style

Whenever I used to get proposed a question about who I am as a writer or what I think my voice is in my works, I never quite knew how to answer. As corny as this response is, I often deflected the answer by providing a simile to the (somewhat) popular TV Show, “The Voice.” I argued that I wrote to please, I wrote to perform, and I wrote to satisfy whatever prompt or end goal I had been given or created. Most of the time, however, how my voice ended up sounding was often a mystery, and I didn’t really know what I was going to get until I hit that bright red button and spun my chair around at the end of the piece. It wasn’t until this prompt that I realized how relevant this analogy is, even though I think it’s more appropriate to use it in a different way.

While growing up, I wrote a lot of poetry. Especially while going through my angsty middle school phase, most of them ended up being about teenage rebellion and self-defined “emo” topics. My voice was raw, but so passionate about what I was covering as it was my own form of “self expression” that helped me get through the unbearable stages of puberty. Then came the formal writing classes in late junior high years where I learned the essence of what it meant to create a “five paragraph essay.” Back then it was more like a two paragraph summary where the writer got a little too excited with the enter button, but it helped establish a basis of my voice that I hadn’t quite heard before. I developed an internal monotone narration of what I was writing and I experimented with using fancy new words. I focused on really tweaking that voice and finding what ways it sounded best in my head, and to this day still hear it when I participate in formal writing assignments. Next came the creative writing. Freshman year of college I took Political Science 101, where we had to do multiple blog posts throughout the semester. These blog posts really challenged my creativity and forced me to make fun and captivating posts for a certain audience. This creativity brought out another new voice, one of sarcasm and wit, but also one of humor and informality.

It seems odd to me that I can have all of these different voices in my writings, but I find it hard to maintain a consistent voice throughout them all. If one were to read a formal essay of mine and then read a creative narrative, they would not be able to tell that both were written by me. There may be small similarities I suppose, but the overarching tone and voice behind each piece would be drastically different. This is where the new analogy comes in. It’s like if a country singer comes on stage on The Voice, will Blake Shelton turn his chair around? That answer will be yes almost 100% of the time. Blake Shelton goes with country. Formal essays go with my monotone, trying-too-hard-to-sound-intelligent voice. Creative writing goes with my witty, informal, upbeat voice. Poetry goes with my serious, normally depressing voice. Throughout the years I have somehow been able to develop different voices for what I am doing, almost like this formula of what judge will turn around based on the genre of song that is performed.

I can see how other students may have this same thing happen to them in variation, but when asked what my voice is, this is the most appropriate model I can come up with to describe mine. I struggle trying to think of how I sound across all types of writing, because I don’t think I have really established a solidified voice that doesn’t get molded or shaped by what assignment I’m prompted with. It’s as if I can only get only chair to turn around for me at a time, and I need to find a way to get all four to respond to what voice I bring to the table. Perhaps in time I’ll acquire a voice that stays consistent with all my writing endeavors, as my voice has already adapted and changed over time so much. Maybe then I could change my analogy to something more interesting like the Bachelorette – one voice for multiple types of writing, one woman for multiple types of men.