The advertisers and marketing departments in the world appear to be beyond bewildered right now. What do the kids like? They seem to be asking each other. Gorillas? Frogs? What’s a meme? It’s not new that there’s a divide that gets wider and harder to bridge with each new generation in recent decades, but with that widening divide, there comes a business challenge that seems increasingly insurmountable. How do we get the kids to buy our product when we don’t understand them? But there is a way to understand them! Through understanding their language, and in noticing the trends in advance, online linguistics, even on strange sites like Tumblr, can be completely decoded. There are rules to the way that communication happens online, even if it seems strange or nonsensical. Understanding this better is of personal interest, since I’d very much like to decode not only what the hell I’m talking about when I’m online, but also the why.
I really haven’t even started seriously thinking about the portfolio– it feels very far away still that I would need to start thinking about it– so now seems like a good opportunity to start.
Of the questions in the prompt, a few jumped out at me as things that I hadn’t considered (but really should) with this assignment– namely “How do you want to present yourself as a writer? Who is your ideal audience?” and “Do you want your portfolio to be organized around a guiding theme or metaphor or thesis? How explicit do you want the theme or metaphor or thesis to be?”
Both of these types of questions wrap back into a larger question that I’d like to address about what I’d like out of this class.
Ideally, if I could use this as an organized, well-designed repository for my best writing projects of recent and coming years that I could like to resumes or my LinkedIn profile for potential employers, that would be amazing.
If it could also give the air of desperation and a massive fear of unemployment, that would be great, too.
I think my goal with this portfolio will be to showcase my versatility as a writer and ability to communicate concepts and arguments. If I can send it off to a hiring managers with confidence that, just by giving it a cursory glance, they will come away knowing that I am competent, creative, and have a diverse skill set within the realm of writing, then I know I will have executed this portfolio to the best of my ability.
In order to do this, I’m making some preliminary mental sketches about what the layout should be to properly convey this to my audience. Currently, I’m imagining a landing page that would have a few very general categories like, “Minor in Writing Gateway” (and later another for the capstone) for the projects completed in class, “Nonfiction Writing Samples” for the best papers I’ve completed in other classes, and “Fiction Writing Samples” for side projects that showcase the best of my creative writing abilities (not that non-fiction isn’t creative). I figure I will use the landing page as both a quick introduction to the portfolio and what its purpose is as well as an about page with my own quick bio.
Since this portfolio will have a variety of audiences (class, professors, others in the minor, potential employers), I’d like to present myself in a fairly candid but professional way. I’m figuring if I use a tone that is both conversational and competent, I can communicate myself to most any audience. This tone will play into the guiding theme of the whole blog, too. I’m hoping it will show that I am well-versed in different writing techniques, styles, and topics, but I don’t think I need to be overly explicit in this except in the landing page’s introduction.
Those are my current thoughts. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, though.
But really, about that job.
Drafting is rarely easy for me– taking the first steps into a sprawling topic while trying to make succinct points is always a challenge, but this re-purposing project has been difficult in a new sort of way that I am unaccustomed to with writing. Mainly, I am running into logistical issues: finding time to cook the food that I am supposed to be blogging about, gathering ingredients and recipes, or taking quality (enough) photography of my cooking steps as I go for instance.
However, if I look at these issues in terms of writing it feels a lot more manageable. Gathering ingredients and recipes is not entirely dissimilar from gathering topics and sources to write about, and the documentation feels a lot like working on my phrasing, trying to pretty up areas that need work with the resources and space that I have. This tactic has helped some.
Putting it all together has been a challenge, too, though. Figuring out what is readable and flows well in terms of format and content order and other media I’m incorporating is pretty tough. Getting some fresh eyes on it would be great. Also, using a consistent tone has been particularly tough. I set out to be funny when I began this project, but it can be pretty hard to make jokes on command about a fairly normal or routine cooking episode. I’ve found some areas to work in humor and my voice, but I’m always looking to push it just a little bit harder or weed out areas that just aren’t working.
At the same time, quite a bit has gone right (sometimes in unexpected ways) during the project. I was somewhat concerned going into the project that I would have nothing to write about in terms of each cooking experience past the fairly verbatim fact-telling of what I did, but I lucked out: it turns out I can be counted on to be consistently bad at cooking. I am not lacking in little bits of failure and misguided decisions throughout my cooking stories, which (for once) is a good thing.
(Pictured: My cooking, basically.)
The length of the posts also started to come together pretty nicely: at the beginning I was concerned that each post was going to be pages and pages long. This seemed not overly reader-friendly (nor author-friendly. I have other things to do, too), but I ended up not having to worry too much about it. After the first one, the length leveled out as I learned how to narrow my focus in the posts.
That said, there is still a lot of work that I am looking to do in the coming revisions and I would love to hear what others are thinking when they get a chance to read it (even if it’s a reaction like Tim Gunn’s).
So, I’ve kind of procrastinated on this post. This project is still both daunting and overwhelming to me at this point, and, while I’m sure it will be under control as soon as I settle concretely on an idea, I get in over my head every time I sit down to write this.
Therefore! I have pared down my ideas as much as I possibly can at this point, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still open minded to something new and amazing if I think of something or someone suggests something lovely. Here are my current thoughts on the two main directions I’m considering.
- Source material: Facebook story
- Post told the story of trying to make a brownie in the microwave in my dorm, except it goes badly. Like, super badly. It turned into gum or something. IDK.
- Re-purposing ideas:
- Write personal narrative
- Not super different from how it currently is, but I could certainly extrapolate and add in other stories of my incompetence (I have a lot)
- Live tweet the purpose
- Offers interesting comparison of how Facebook entries and tweets differ in format, style, and content.
- A recipe and/or cooking show
- This might be my favorite
- Lots of directions I can go with this that still stays true to the original material while changing it in interesting ways.
- Like, I think it’s great and the audience/producer/editor doesn’t.
- Cooking blog
- Can definitely tie into above idea, or the first one about a story
- Could be about learning to cook (and failing) or be existential and philosophical (why bother learning to cook? Everything ends. Also, the microwave represents my soul and the brownie is my life).
- Write personal narrative
- Source material: Essay about how useless Dr. Frankenstein was.
- Thesis was that the boats in the story were twice as useful as he was.
- Re-purposing ideas:
- Live tweet how useless he is
- from perspective of him or another character (fiance or monster probably)
- Poster about “How not to Be the Worst”
- The world needs this
- Live tweet how useless he is
My main concerns right now are whether or not my ideas are going to be pushing me hard enough as a writer. Maybe it’s just because these sound like fun to write rather than tiring that I feel this way? I’m not sure though. It’s not as though they lack merit; I could definitely see myself managing social media for a company or writing about food.
What do you guys think?
Today, I’m going to take a look around my room in my apartment and see what examples of writing I can find in the next 30 minutes or so.
That milkshake was so good. On the cup, there are three main sections of text: the size (12 oz.), the logo (hat like? With the brand name, useful), and a promo about the glory that is Arby’s, declaring their brand purpose and values. All of these seem in line for the genre that is, I suppose, fast food cups. The material the cup is made of (a thin, waterproof cardboard) and its shape (cylindrical) also seem in line with other cups from fast food restaurants.
PAMPHLET ABOUT THE UGLI
Or, rather, the Undergraduate Library, not some sort of spreading disease of unattractiveness. It follows a simple, readable format listing 10 Things to Know about the library. While this information might come in a brochure or a text heavy pamphlet, this sheet breaks some aspects of the genre of informational pamphlets. It is double sided and is broken down into a list that is further broken up in alternating blue and white colors. There are a variety of links that can be typed into browsers (perhaps it would benefit from QR codes though? It’s not as if I can click the links) as well as reference pictures of the site.
There is also a fairly minimal amount of text on the sheet. It makes me think of Buzzfeed and other click-bait type stories in this way that it lacks extrapolation, but makes up for it in being an extensive list.
To save myself some grief, I’m just going to look at the outside rather than the ridiculous amount of writing within. I’m just going to assume that my notes are fairly in line with most note-taking genres (Lots of words. Lots of doodles. Sometimes I highlight things!)
Instead, the cover is pretty on point with what you might expect from a very cheap notebook. Plain colored, heavy cardboard cover. Perforated line along the metal spiral binding to indicate that the sheets are perforated (it even claims to have “High Tech Micro Perforation.” What… What does that mean? What part of that is supposed to be high tech?? Whatever.) There is also a bubble of white to indicate the type of notebook it is: 1 subject, 70 sheets with college rule lines. Nothing but the best for me.
I need to stop eating in my room.
This definitely falls into what I am familiar with when it comes to ketchup packets: strange vacuum sealed foil packaging with pointy edges, instructions on the corner for opening, ingredient list, distributor information, and a little picture of a ketchup bottle (very recognizable). This also falls in line with what I would expect from other condiment packages, too; mustard and mayo and whatnot.
At the same time, I think this genre might be changing. I’ve seen more and more plastic packages of ketchup that have tops that can be peeled back for dipping, or an edge torn for squeezing. Maybe this is a paradigm shift for the whole world of portable condiment pouches. Is the world ready? I think I might be, but I’m not sure. In the meantime though, this ketchup package falls in line with what I would expect, and that gives me comfort.
Last one. Half hour is almost up, and I felt it was only fair that I look at a website since I’m on my laptop with more than 20 tabs open. That’s a lot of writing.
Tumblr is an interesting example of a social media site. While the basis of this site was blogging, social media is probably the genre that it aligns with most closely now, but it is very markedly different from some other popular ones. The entire site is based upon sharing the things that people you follow have shared. There is also an element of sharing the things that you have created; it’s a great platform to share you music, art, videos, and writing, as well as participate in crowd sourced conversations. It’s slightly similar to Twitter in the public sharing aspect and the level of reach that posts can attain, but its form is longer than Twitter’s, which makes a big difference in post content.
The layout of Tumblr is also fairly in line with other social media sites. The background is blue for one thing (just like both Facebook and Twitter) and posts are in list form vertically with features, navigation, and posting options along the top and sides on the upper portion of the page. Where this format might differ more drastically is on the individual users’ blogs, which are highly individualized, allowing for custom html codes for layout and features.
Despite the differences, Tumblr is still very quickly recognizable for what it is based on the genre conventions is follows: social media, and a good source of procrastination and time wasting.
In preparation for answering a broad question– Why Do I Write?– we have turned to a variety of others that have answered the question before us, which I would like to partially respond to. In doing so, it might look like I am entering the conversation (which wouldn’t be entirely wrong), but really, for now, it’s closer to me dipping a toe into an ocean and calling it swimming.
Out of the three texts we looked at in class to help us answer this question– “Why I Write” by George Orwell and another of the same title by Joan Didion, and “Why I Blog” by Andrew Sullivan– I definitely connected to Didion’s response the most but I pulled the most concrete and relevant explanations from Orwell’s.
Didion seemed to pull some concepts from my own head. Namely, the idea that she doesn’t think up a plot and run with it so much as seeing an image and being unable to leave it alone, prodding it with questions and demanding an explanation for its circumstances and appearance. Of one such instance she points out that,
“Had I known the answers to any of these questions I would never have needed to write a novel.”
I LOVE this idea and its phrasing. It was the image and the questions that she made up about it that compelled her to write. I completely connect with that. I have had similar experiences of seeing something– not even something strange or out of the ordinary– that my mind wouldn’t leave alone; it needed to create a new reality for it to exist in that would explain why it was and how it came to be and where it was going and the way others would interact with it. Some people get songs stuck in there head, but I get images and lines of monologue lodged in mine.
Didion also claims at one point that,
“I knew I couldn’t think.”
Obviously, this isn’t true in the way that one would immediately assume, but it made perfect sense to me and in the context that she used it in. She thinks differently. She sees the world in unique ways. She lets the world speak to her first and then she responds to what she observes with further questions and stories of her own rather than attacking her landscape and imaginings for answers.
Orwell, on the other hand, lists 4 main reasons that he writes:
“Sheer egoism… aesthetic enthusiasm… historical impulse… [and] political purpose.”
Save for the third point (which did not resonate with me nearly as much as the others), I definitely agreed with the sentiment behind each of these explanations. I won’t lie; I write for ego. Recognition. Gloating rights. To be taken seriously. I imagine myself on talk shows and NPR, an inspiration on social media, discussing how I possibly managed to come up with such brilliance.
And I won’t apologize for that ego. I’m not the first to dream of fame and I have no shame in admitting I want it to. What I would do with that, though, is more important and brings me to his last reason about politics.
One of my goals in writing is to be as supportive to those that are disadvantaged in society. I want to be an ally and part of a solution that calls for increased positive representations of those that the elite ignore. I want to write human stories about those outside of the Norm– black girls in wheelchairs and south Asian bisexual men and poor kids in rural Colorado that don’t feel they fit into any gender role and they don’t know what to do about it. I have political motivations but I’d like to think that it’s because I want to be fighting the good fight and not because I want to be different or edgy.
I wish these topics and depictions weren’t even considered in this way.
Aesthetic enthusiasm just makes me smile though.
I like words. I like those words about words. I like sounds and phrases that I can chew on and roll around and say slowly. I dream of writing lines that make someone put down what they’re reading and walk away for a minute because they can’t believe someone said something about that in such a perfect way and they have to go digest it some and tweet it and plan a new tattoo around the words. I want to put things in a way that readers wish they’d put the same thought into the same words in exactly the same way because it was just that good.
Oh look, we’ve circled back to ego. How fitting.
When it comes to Sullivan, I feel I have a lot less to say. I don’t blog in the colloquial sense; I am on tumblr which has a basis in blogging but, for the most part, has become quite a bit like twitter with sharing clever insights in a concise and informal way. I also don’t have too much interest in journalism on a personal level; I don’t plan to make a career in it, at least. At the same time, as a citizen of the modern digital age, I understand the need to convey thoughts with a sense of expediency. Weigh in quickly, jump into the conversation before it’s forgotten. I do this more on Facebook than anywhere else, but not often even there. I don’t like to create arguments online where it can be difficult to gauge the tone of those you’re speaking with. It’s an interesting sounding board for ideas, but it’s often also frustrating and, just, not ideal.
I… did not mean to write this much. Gosh. Kudos to anyone that stuck with me though this stream of consciousness ramble for this long. Have a gif of Anderson Cooper and some french fries as a thank you.
Hey! Hi! Hello!
Like most good acquaintance-makings, I figured it would be best to greet you. You, like me, are new to this blog, and, as such, introductions are in order.
Let’s start basic (like me! Haha, because I’m a white girl? Basic? Nevermind). My name is Sarah. I am at the shallow end of my twenties and in my second year of college. I am a nerd in the truest, embarrassing, old-fashioned, let’s-shove-this-geek-in-a-locker kind of way. I watch a lot of anime and all my friends are engineers and I have played table-top games before and I spend all my time on tumblr or watching YouTubers play video games. It’s a sickness.
When I’m not doing those things though, sometimes I’m writing! I emphasize sometimes here because I do it in sporadic bursts. I do it when school is in session for essays and reactionary pieces. I write when I have something funny (ie something that makes ME laugh) to share on Facebook. I write when I get too down on myself for not having actually written anything “fun” and I’ll sit down and leaf through the Word Doc of prompts and ideas I have built up for just such an occasion and maybe pick one and run with it for a while until the existential dread comes back and I have to abandon it for a while and lay down and think about my life.
In those rare times when I am writing something in my free time for personal fulfillment (as opposed to for a grade) and doing so successfully (read as: not outlining, not crying about how terrible I am), I mainly try for realistic fiction with plenty of romance. No shame; that’s my jam.
So, now that we have scraped the surface of who I am and what I write, I figure it’s only fair that I prove the above claims and get back to writing (or not).
Thank you for your time.
(I apologize for lying but I am actually a simple shark trying to figure out how to blog. Here is a picture of me.)