*You’re

Some people just don’t get it. They don’t understand why the simple placement of an apostrophe or the correct usage of their/there/they’re could be so important. But to me, these grammar mistakes are quite possibly some of the most annoying instances I ever encounter. It might be because I’m a perfectionist, or just that I love to write and don’t like when it isn’t done properly. I think it also has something to do with the fact that not only were we taught these grammar rules since we were in grade school, but also technology and things like autocorrect often make it impossible to make a grammar mistake. Yet, people still use your instead of you’re, who instead of whom, and its instead of it’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’m not entirely innocent. There have definitely been times where I used the wrong form of a word, but most likely I immediately tried to correct it or acknowledge my mistake. Even in something as casual as a conversation via text message I tend to utilize the ever-so-popular “asterisk correction.” This is when someone types the wrong word (most often in a text or Facebook message) and goes on to correct it by typing the right word with a “*” in front of it. I definitely appreciate this phenomenon, even to the point that I purchased a decorative computer case sticker that reads: *you’re.

I guess you could say I’m a tad obsessed with correct grammar usage.

Preachin’ to the Choir

I think the list of things about writing that I know I “should” do but sometimes (or often) don’t do could go on forever. But something I have come to appreciate, especially after beginning this minor, is the beauty in how much freedom writing truly gives me. If I want to write in all CAPITALS, bold every other word, or have line breaks

at

random

times, I can.

And that is a great feeling. Even the fact that I just began that sentence with the word “and” is something I was always taught to never do. I think my tendency to break the rules of writing has increased since beginning the Gateway course–and I am very grateful for this. That being said, there are still instances where I know I should be writing in a certain way, but still do not do so. One example that comes to mind is the “he or she” rule. Rather than writing something like, “someone does what they want to do,” I know it should read, “someone does what he or she wants to do.” But unless it looks or sounds completely ridiculous, I still sometimes include a “they” here and there instead. Oops.

Something less grammatical that I tend to do but probably shouldn’t is planning out every detail of my essay/assignment. It is definitely good to have an outline and clear idea of where a piece of writing will go, but the organizational freak in me always seems to appear when I sit down to write and takes this notion to a whole new level. People are always saying to just sit down and write, let the magic happen, but that is way too risky for me. I like to plan out the definite structure and content, even including the exact quotes from sources that I will use. I think I do this because it makes me feel more sure of my writing. Even if I veer off from my original plan, at least I was following some sort of plan in the first place. But, I still do want to try and just sit down and let the words flow from my mind for a piece of writing in the near future!

When I am asked for advice about writing, I often suggest to others that they read their writing out loud to help catch grammar mistakes or parts where the structure just isn’t working. But I often do not practice what I preach. It seems I never set aside time to read my writing out loud before submitting it or declaring myself finished. I don’t really know why I avoid this task. I think I would rather stay in my head when I write–it’s a little scary to hear your own words read aloud for the first time. But even just from writing this blog post I know I really should listen to my own advice. Maybe this prompt had a hidden agenda? Either way, for my next piece of writing I plan on reading it aloud as the first step in my revision process.

The Struggles of Writing

For those of you who I haven’t explained it to yet, my remediation project is going to be a fictional article for The New Yorker online site. I want to argue that cover letters, as a component of applying to and interviewing for a job or internship, are inefficient and outdated. My original piece of writing is a cover letter I wrote for a BuzzFeed Food Editorial internship (at the time I thought it was my dream job) so I also want to include personal anecdotes about my experience.

As I begin writing and planning the scope of my article, one of my biggest concerns is about the actual content itself. I feel like I have so many ideas that I want to write about, including: the history of cover letters and internships, my personal experiences, the opinions of other college students (using survey data), and the specific reasons why cover letters should be obsolete. Even just reading this sentence I realize there are a lot of different directions that my project could go, but I want to make sure I have a cohesive and clearly-written piece.

For now, I am thinking that I might just have to limit how much I elaborate on certain topics, for example briefly describe how cover letters originated and then go into more detail about why I think they shouldn’t be used anymore. I also need to make sure I’m sticking to the general style and tone of the magazine. As far as appearance of the article, I am going to use the website Newsjack to place my article into the layout of The New Yorker. Hopefully once I narrow in on the content my project will begin to look more like a finished piece, but for now these are some of the struggles that I’m experiencing!

A screenshot of the Newsjack website
A screenshot of the Newsjack website

Write and Wrong

Writing isn’t just something we do, it is something we

feel.

Writing is often typing, but mostly

thinking.

Writing is are and our; their, they’re and there; your and you’re.

Writing isn’t easy.

Writing with a purpose is not the same thing as writing for

fun.

Writing can express the truth.

Writing can hold lies.

Writing is full of rules, and full of writers with every intention of breaking them.

Writing is

right.

 

Writing is: inspirational quotes.
writing is: inspirational quotes.

 

 

Business Insider: Cover Letter Edition

For my repurposing project I finally decided to use a cover letter I wrote last year and transform it into a piece that argues about the importance of cover letters in the hiring process (I’m still deciding whether this will be a “pro” or “against” argument). I thought it might be helpful to research conversations about cover letters that are already happening in order to get some ideas for my project.

I was originally searching for articles that explain why cover letters might not be necessary anymore or that they do not accurately represent an individual, but I was struck by a Business Insider article that begged to differ. The article is titled, “Why Cover Letters Are Important” and this simple yet powerful heading definitely grabbed my attention right away. The article goes on to explain how cover letters can be more important than résumés because they have the power to reveal someone’s work ethic and attention to detail. I thought this article was interesting because before I read it I was in the mindset that cover letters are too arbitrary and often express false representations of an applicant.

My original idea for project 2 was to write an editorial piece that includes all of a cover letter’s typical components, while at the same time arguing that they might not be the best way of communicating one’s qualifications. Before I found the Business Insider article, I couldn’t help but notice how many links there were to articles about “how to write the perfect cover letter.” I included an image to showcase these search results, and I definitely want to try to include this idea in my project: the fact that the structure and content of these letters is so generalized that anyone with Internet access can learn how to “perfect” them.

 

Apparently anyone can master these pieces of writing.
Apparently anyone can master these pieces of writing.

The Professional Self

After experiencing the workshop process and reading some of my fellow classmates’ “Why I Write” essays, I started to notice a common theme. We as college students rarely get to write about what we want to write about. This idea jumped out to me, and once again became relevant when we started to discuss projects 2 and 3. I was both excited and slightly overwhelmed upon learning that we have full control of what we write about for these projects. I started thinking back on pieces of writing from my college (and even high school) career, but nothing easily came to mind. This was a little frustrating, but after going through documents on my computer I was able to come up with a few options.

The first piece of writing I am considering is an essay I wrote last year in a Writing class about new media. It was called a “digital media self reflection” and I wrote about how I rely on digital media to enhance and shape my memories. I thought it would be cool to transform a piece that discusses how media influences my life into something that expresses this notion through an actual new media platform. Additionally, I liked that this essay is somewhat personal, which provides an opportunity to do some research and see how other people experience digital media. I think this essay has potential to make for a very intriguing project, but another piece of writing has caught my attention even more.

Over the past two years I’ve often felt that I write more for a professional purpose than an academic purpose on a weekly basis. Between updating my resume, writing various cover letters and filling out applications, it seems I spend a lot of my time writing as what I call my “professional self.” While browsing through past pieces of writing, one cover letter in particular caught my eye. It was for a BuzzFeed Food Editorial Internship, which at the time I considered my dream job. I want to use this piece to explore the reasons that our generation is expected to write letters in which we declare our qualifications in what usually feels like a fake way. I think I could utilize surveys and interviews to find out my peers’ opinions, and hopefully repurpose this letter into a meaningful 2nd and 3rd project. One idea I had is to discuss alternatives to these lengthy and dry letters, for example a digital resume like the one below. Although I am not sure what exact direction I want to go in, I am pretty confident that I want to use my cover letter for this repurposing project!

My "digital resume"
Not your average cover letter…

The Name’s Sara, No “h”

Sara Estes considers herself a professional to-do list writer as well as an aspiring foodie. She splits her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Cincinnati, Ohio, but loves to travel outside of her Midwestern roots. “Home” to her is anywhere she can spend time with her mom and dad, two older brothers, and of course her dog Scruffy. She is pursuing a degree in Economics with a minor in Writing as well as a minor in Digital Studies, and hopes to go into a career in digital marketing in the future. As a writer for Michigan’s chapter of the online food magazine Spoon University, Sara explores her love of food trends, delicious restaurants, and interesting recipes. She has always found inspiration in famous quotes, and dreams of the day that her written words touch people’s lives in that same way.

 

Enjoying a game day despite Michigan's poor performance
Enjoying a rarity: nice weather in Michigan