Anna Forbes

Writing the introduction for my Capstone project was impactful because it helped me realize underlying motivations I have for writing a novel. Subconsciously, I was aware of these feelings, but I had not considered them as primary reasons for why I wanted to write a really long book (that is extremely likely to manifest into a trilogy).

My little brother is going to be the best husband (I promise there is a point to this). He grew up with three older sisters who have pounded the “Women are to be respected” mantra into his head. He can and has played every sport he wants to. He also plays guitar and piano and has an elaborate ramen bowl every day after school that he makes himself. He loves with his whole heart, something I have been given the delight of experiencing. He is a modern-day renaissance man. I love how he embraces the different ways God has made him. I don’t know if he’s had to deal with pushback from the world that says he has to fit in a box, or that cooking or hugging are not masculine. Nothing makes me angrier than thinking about the possibility that this might occur.

It is important to me that I am allowed to be a mix of person, too. I can receive joy from smashing a volleyball, singing Defying Gravity, and walking into the Clements. I used to picture librarians, or even women, as quiet and dispassionate and weak. I do not think this anymore. I am a strong woman writing about strong women.

Writing the introduction helped me solidify my primary characters. I will be writing flashbacks about Anna Pope, whom many scholars consider America’s first great female book collector (FBC), and Estelle Doheny, a devout Catholic and philanthropist who started collecting when her corrupt oil tycoon husband was convicted of a whole bundle of crimes. However, the story will revolve most heavily around Margaret and Anna. Margaret is my first minor character. She is based on two real women in my life: Margaret Carney, the Director of the International Dinnerware Museum in Ann Arbor, and Emiko (Emi) Hastings, the Curator of Books and Digital Projects Librarian at the Clements Library in Ann Arbor. They are my mentors and role models for my future career in libraries and museums. Margaret (the fictional one) is Anna’s mentor in the story. She will be written into many scenes, hopefully when she and Anna meet and as the narrative progresses.

Anna’s name is still in-process. I like the name Anna because it means “grace” and it is a family name. I have given her the last name Forbes, because it is a middle name. I originally named her Sophie Forbes, the name of my great, great grandmother, but it felt too selfish. It is also on my list of possible baby names for the future. I will report back on my final decision.

Names and motivations included, the most surprising revelation I had while writing the draft of my introduction is the opportunity fiction affords. At first, I placed the setting of Anna’s childhood in Camarillo, California, where my step-grandparents live. It did not feel right, because so much of who I want Anna to be is personified in Sylvania, Ohio, where I grew up. I modeled Ana’s childhood library and literary pursuits after my own. Everything in this snippet from the introduction is true:

She found escape and retreat in the attic-turned-library her mother built for her on the second floor. There were many places to sit: the window seat overlooking the driveway, the fluffy green rug that followed her to her college dorm room, the Pottery Barn Kids bean bag that seemed to decrease in surface area as she got bigger. There were many books to read. Her grandmother took her on a book-buying spree every birthday until she was 18. Some of her favorites over the years included The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes, the Harry Potter series, Anna Karenina, and an Introduction to Medieval Architecture (in that order).

At first, this too felt selfish and a bit annoying, but it is what I know. I know the way Anna thinks because I know the way I think. It is easy this way.

I also came to points when I felt like it was necessary to diverge from my personal story. An example of this is that Anna is 23 and already a graduate student in the University of Michigan’s School of Information. She is ahead of me, but I thought this necessary to build her credibility for the reader. It was a weird moment at first. I had the thought, “I can’t do this, it’s not real,” but then it became, “I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT, IT’S FICTION YAY!” I usually cringe at dishonesty, and that’s what fiction feels like to me. Going forward, I need to find a way to shift my mental stance on fiction from dishonesty to fun storytelling.

Blog Round Thing That You Sit At Two

The Power of Short Words

Here we like to learn. Here we like to prove. Here we like to win, dream, and walk to class with buds in our ears and heads turned down. It is cold. We do not look up to see the boys and girls who walk past rushed–Those like us and those not like us. We do not like the boys and girls that we can’t make sense of. We hold hands with the boys and girls who wear the same coats as us. We live in isolating bubbles.

There are good things here too. Warm drinks warm hearts in shops that like to play New York. The sun breaks through the clouds. It makes the boys and girls come out to play. Buds spring up to bring joy. The grass says, “Lay in me.” We hold hands the same way we used to, but there are more of us now. The sun makes all the boys and girls look at more boys and girls and think of what it would be like to be those boys and girls who love and learn and dream in ways not like the ways we are used to.

I thank the sun for this. I thank God for this. I pray that we can pop the bubbles.


I remember my first week as a Gateway student in the Sweetland Minor in Writing very well. I walked into the Natural Science Building for the first day of class and thought, “What the heck am I doing in a building with the word ‘science’ in the title?!” I’m a Communications major.


Anyways, stepping into the classroom the first day was nerve wracking. I had always considered myself to be a good writer, but guess what, all the other students accepted to the program were good writers too! Despite how calming Shelley’s meme-filled syllabus was, I was still nervous to speak up in class to voice my opinions. During our first free writing exercise, I spent the 15 minutes we were given frantically trying to think of anything worthy of typing on the open Word document on my laptop. And at the mention of creating an ePortfolio that would take ALL semester to finish, I thought I was doomed.

When I was choosing which topic I wanted to spend the entire semester writing about, I had two options: my passion for music or my father’s death. I knew that writing about music would be easy and painless, and I knew that writing about my father’s death sounded quite a bit like hell. Usually, I do everything in my power to avoid the subject and the memories that come with it, but Shelley told us to challenge ourselves. So, I chose the latter option. I didn’t know it was possible to cry as much I did throughout the course of an assignment, but I’m so, so, so happy I did.

Well, now we’re here. Clicking the “Submit” button on Canvas to turn in my ePortfolio URL earlier today might just have been the happiest moment of this semester. As I say in the reflective material on my Repurposing page, “It is raw, it is precious, it is my heart.” Do with it what you will 🙂

No one wants to read a 9,000-word treatise online.

I mean come on Sullivan, you just contradicted yourself. Okay, maybe his essay was a little shorter than 9,000 words, but it was LONG. Anyways, minuscule rant over.

My hopes and dreams for the minor and beyond…hmm…

I think I need to begin by reflecting on what forms my writing has taken on in the past–What I write about, where I write it, why I’ve written, etc. The first thing I thing I remember writing that I was proud of was a song I wrote with my sister in the back seat of my mom’s car on the way to a volleyball tournament when I was in the fifth grade. It was called “Friends Forever” and was as cheesy as it sounds. We thought we were brilliant. The lyrics went like this:

Friends forever, always together

To be the friends we always have been

Never apart, close to the heart, forever…

Even typing that now and admitting to it’s existence is making me cringe behind my screen.

The first thing I wrote that actually was good came out of my head the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. On recommendation from my choir/drama teacher, I attended Showchoir (yes spell check, showchoir is an actual word) Camps of America (SCA) in Tiffin, Ohio. A couple of weeks before my departure, I learned that there was a talent show on the last night of the week where campers could audition to perform for the entire camp and potentially win a scholarship. At this point, I knew I was good at singing, but I did not know I was good at writing. Despite this, I decided to write a song called “Rainfall” to sing for auditions.

When I got into the audition room, the judges seemed to be bored; however, when I asked the accompanist to rise from the piano bench so I could take his place and play a song I wrote, they perked up. Apparently, songwriting does not come as easily to other people as it did not me (a fact I was ignorant to beforehand). When I played the closing chord in the little audition room, I thought I did something wrong. The judges looked confused.

“Wait, that was an original song?”

“You mean, you wrote it?”

“You’re 15?!”

Uhh, yep. That’s when I knew that somewhere in my mind existed a lexicon that could produce something that would leave people speechless. That’s when I knew that I wanted to keep writing forever and ever and never stop. (I won the scholarship)

Since then, I have written countless other songs, short stories, diary entries, and boring essays for class. It definitely hasn’t all been as fun or rewarding as singing at SCA, but I love the feeling of creating something that came purely from inside my head. As I continued writing, I have discovered that while I may be able to stand and sing in front of a big crowd of people, letting them read my writing on a page is extremely intimidating for me.

In the beginning of his essay, Sullivan describes a blog as “a log of thoughts and writing posted publicly on the World Wide Web.” I think it is the public part that bothers me. I have been trying to start a personal blog for the longest time. I get as far to design the website and write up an About Me page, but they always fail when I actually go to switch them from “unpublished” to “published”. I do not like the idea of people getting to see (and inevitably judge) my writing. He also says that, “There is simply no way to write about [events, things, feelings] in real time without revealing a huge amount about yourself.” What if when I reveal things about myself, people don’t like me?

The concept of blogging being instantaneous without much room for editing is also scary. I am not a perfectionist in life, but I am a bit of perfectionist when it comes to my writing. Last week, I started writing my first blog post that will appear on my personal blog when I finally will up the courage to allow someone other than my kitten beanie baby to be in the same space as the words. After reading Sullivan, it is clear to me that this is not the way that he thinks blogging is supposed to go. He says it is supposed to be mostly unedited, but this just doesn’t feel right to me.

To compare different writing styles, Sullivan states that, “A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world.” Who knows, maybe I will be a novelist.

E-portfolio dreams!

Coming into Writing 220, the course aspect I was most excited about was the opportunity to create at E-portfolio. I have created and deleted countless blogs, always before actually letting people read what I have written, and I am excited to finally make one that will be seen (and hopefully give me the courage to putting my writing out there for real). There are many aspects of my E-portfolio that I have been thinking about–the background, the fonts, the navigation, the images I incorporate. I can’t wait to make it mine. I want it to scream Sophia.

On pages 108 and 109 in Writer/Designer, the authors give a list of things to plan for when making an Interactive/Animated Project Rough Cut, which I think translates to an E-portfolio. The list includes these elements: Major pages, slides, screens, or scripts found or created; multimedia assets edited for purpose and length; navigation and organization is in place; and the draft is available for feedback. Thinking through this list, I now realize it is going to take a long time to build the E-portfolio I want. I have a long way to go, but here are some ideas:

Major pages/slide/screens/scripts: Most, if not all, of the pages included in my portfolio will be projects from Writing 220. These will be my original piece, Major Project 1, Major Project 2, Why I Write, a home page, an About Me page, and maybe a couple others.

Multimedia Assets: I hope to include images of my dad and I from when he was still alive somewhere in my portfolio. I think this might be possible in my About Me or Why I Write pages. The other multimedia asset I will have is whatever my Remediation project turns out being. Right now, it could either be an online story book or a podcast of myself reading the poem.

Navigation/Organization: Since my E-portfolio will be a website, I will have navigational tabs on the top of it where viewers can move between elements.

Draft Availability: Non-existant! I messed around with Wix a little white ago, but not since I have become more firm in my dreams for the site. This is what the first run looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.46.21 PM

I am excited to see where it ends up 🙂

How are we already starting our remediations?!?

First thought: How is already halfway through the semester? It seems crazy to me that its been almost two months since our first class when I thought, “Wow, I have absolutely no idea what text I am going to repurpose and remediate.” Since then, I have learned that good writing isn’t something that just happens. Drafts exist for a reason and there is always a new area of revision to explore. yoda-learn

Second: In my last post, I told you I would be transforming an fictional short story into a personal narrative. Things changed. When I sat down with my laptop and opened Microsoft Word to begin said narrative, a free verse poem came out instead. Somewhere between my brain and my fingers, creativity took over. 20 minutes and seven long stanzas later, I thought, “Huh, maybe I’ll be a poet.” I’m still trying to figure out how this happened, but I’m very happy that it did. I think the free verse format allowed me to include a lot of details about the experience of growing up without a father that would’ve been hard to get through in a personal narrative. In a poem, I don’t have to give a ton of background about why or when certain events happened, I can just mention that they did.

Third: My remediation, or the supposed purpose of this blog post, will be an online storybook. My intended audience is kids who have experienced the death of a parent and parents who are trying to learn about how to care for a grieving child. With an audience age gap this large, I don’t know how to make it engaging for many different reading levels and attention spans. I know I want to include illustrations of some kind in my storybook, because I think this will translate well to a younger audience. And while my own artistic abilities are lacking, I am hoping to keep the characters pretty simple. I want to have a Sophia character that grows up throughout the book, a mom, dad, and something symbolizing God.

The other obstacle I am facing is the tone I will take. In my meeting with Shelley, she advised me to take a look at Dr. Seuss’ language, specifically in “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” I hope that by analyzing his language, I will have a better idea about how to reach both children and adults.

The places I am going while reflecting on this project are tough. I have cried multiple times upon remembering or missing my dad, but I am thankful that this class is challenging me. I hope that my audience members will see the rawness of my emotions and choose to engage in healthy ways with there own.




On to remembering, feeling, sharing, and healing.

Repurposing progress :) (I’m excited, hence the smiley face)

For my repurposing project, I am working on transforming a short story I wrote for a creative writing class my freshman year. The story, “Prayers for an Ambulance,” is a fictional story about a little girl who’s father passed away from cancer. The scenes included in the short story are roughly based off of memories I hold from experiencing my own father’s death. For my project, I am hoping to make the piece non-fiction and add some information from psychological research on loss and grieving for children to affirm my emotions. My new intended audience is individuals who have had similar experiences, whether with personally grieving a parent or for those whom are trying to understand grieving children on a psychological level.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how I will design my e-portfolio. Currently, I am brainstorming different ways of how to combine the personal narrative and analytical essay genres. When we analyzed Alexis Stempien’s e-portfolio from the Winter 2015 cohort in class, inspiration light bulbs went off in my head.

[This image features the top half of a woman's face as she looks upward at a sketched light bulb.]
[This image features the top half of a woman’s face as she looks upward at a sketched light bulb.]
Alexis’ e-portfolio combines her seemingly contradicting passions for science and her Christian faith to explain to her audience how the two can work together. To transition between faith and science, she implemented a button at the bottom of each faith-themed piece connecting the reader to the complimentary science piece.

At this point, I am pretty set on creating a blog. During my inspirational moment, I came up with the idea of having my narrative and analytical pieces side by side. On my blog, the repurposing of my short story will occur in blog post chunks. With each post, I want to give readers a memory, and depending on if it occurred before or after my dad’s actual death, the psychological thing that was happening in my brain/body at the time. In addition, I am planning on my blog’s name being, “to heaven and back” (yes, in lowercase letters because I love lowercase letters). When I was little, my family used to say, “I love you to heaven and back” instead of just “I love you.” After my dad died, the phrase took on new meaning. This practice has become a tradition in my house and I hope including the phrase “to heaven and back” will be a connecting point for my family and the rest of my audience.

Here is another memory I want to include: When I was younger, my dad used to pray a nighttime prayer with us before my siblings and I went to bed. It went like this: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May the angels protect me through the night, and keep me safe until morning light.” When my dad died, my family changed the line about the angels to, “May the angels and daddy protect me through the night.”

Here is what I have so far:

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.46.21 PM

I can’t make it un-blurry, but here is the link to my current progress:


When it comes to advice, I think my biggest question is if my idea makes sense? Do you think the format will be confusing?

Crying Babies and Finger Monkeys

This is how I feel about research:

[Baby crying]

It makes me very sad. I really, really dislike it. I was going to say I hate it, but the word “hate” seemed a tad too strong. I’m not sure why I feel this way–maybe from the painstakingly horrible research papers I had to write in high school on topics I cared nothing about, or maybe its my need for instant gratification that research, if conducted well, does not allow. For previous classes, I usually attempt to do the least amount of research that will suffice for a given project.

When I began reading the “Using Sources” chapter from the “Craft of Research Reading,” I was hesitant. I didn’t think anything helpful would come from it since I’ve read endless articles on research for my Communication Studies and English courses; however, as my eyes continued idly reading, something changed. On page 94, its says, “You don’t have to agree with the conclusions to do the research; in fact, its argument does not even have to be relevant to your questions, so long as its data are.” This was new.

Whenever beginning researching data in the past, I remember typing only the key words for my topic into ArticlesPlus and typically used whichever results came up first. For example, if I were trying to find information about the behaviors of finger monkeys (pictured below if you are unfamiliar with finger monkeys), I would type “finger monkey behaviors” into the search bar.

[My favorite animal, the small, but mighty finger monkey.]
[My favorite animal, the small, but mighty finger monkey.]
Would articles and research about finger monkey behaviors come up? Yes. Would it be a well rounded culmination of all the data on finger monkey behaviors? No. Perhaps there is a large body of work on the behaviors of Pigmy Monkeys, a close relative of the Finger Monkey. However, I would not know this if I limited my research to data on the Finger Monkey. This information may not be completely relevant to my specific project, but it would still be helpful to know these things.

The emphasis this chapter placed on conducting sufficient research made me rethink my role as a writer. I used to believe I could write about whatever I wanted, and because I was a good writer, it would just turn out well. However, now I know that if I do not complete extensive and topic-encompassing research, I will be disappointing my readers. It would be a disservice to them if I did not provide them with the most comprehensive amount of data possible.

Another piece of the “Craft of Research Writing” that makes me think different about my job as a writer is the emphasis on the importance of casting readers accurately. In the example on page 18 of “Connecting with Your Reader,” the author warns against this reader miscasting because, “When a writer miscasts readers, she can lose their trust and ofter their willingness to read.” When I read something, especially pieces assigned by professors, I often find myself thinking about my reading level. As an elementary school student, I always had an above average reading level, but some of the readings I’m assigned for class now make me rather want to throw my laptop than finish the 40 page article. This thought made me connect with the importance of analyzing my audiences.

As I begin my repurposing project, I hope to use this new knowledge to improve the relationship between myself and my readers. If I end up choosing other people who have experienced loss as my intended audience, I want to make sure to read through every draft as though I am eight years old, just having found out my dad passed away. I recognize the need to write empathetically and I hope this will translate well from my thoughts to the page.

I want to be a Christian blogger.


Lauren DeMoss Benson is a Christian blogger. (Disclaimer: If you haven’t read this in one of my previous posts, I am a Christian and I hope someday to write a blog about it.) When I began reading Lauren’s blog, The Full Time Girl, two years ago, I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to be just like her. Or at least write just like her. Since then, I have found other blogs written by Christian women, but I keep coming back to Lauren’s.

To introduce you to her writing, I chose to attach Lauren’s blog post, “Fifty Shades of…No way.” In this post, she writes (Okay, she rants) about the dangers of the erotic media trend, as seen in Fifty Shades of Gray.

“A lie has been sold to women across this country. A lie set down on black and white put into the hands of our mothers, and sisters, and daughters.” –Lauren DeMoss Benson, from:

Start strong, Pinker advises. The two sentences above are the introduction to “Fifty Shades of…No way.” When I read it the first time, I thought, “WHAT IS THE LIE? I WANT TO KNOW THE LIE THAT IS BEING TOLD TO MY MOM AND SISTERS!” (I don’t have a daughter yet.) Lauren is an extremely strong writer. She always begins her posts with a statement that leaves me begging for more information.

Another tool Lauren uses is the visual mode. She often wraps up sections of her posts with a summarizing statement in bold font, such as, “I would sooner step out into a busy highway in front of oncoming traffic than to step out onto that slippery slope of “erotica/romance” since both would destroy my life.” Boom.

The other visual cue she utilizes is the inclusion of her favorite quote in image form.

"I have give my life to God, and my life too important to give my mind to Satan to dump into the meat grinder of all the lusts of the world." -Lauren DeMoss
“I have given my life to God, and my life too important to give my mind to Satan to dump into the meat grinder of all the lusts of the world.” -Lauren DeMoss

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get bored when I have to read a long essay or blog post without any pictures. This tendency makes me feel like a four year old child reading a book before bedtime in my mom’s lap, but its true. My mind needs further stimulation. I enjoy when Lauren includes these images in her blog posts because it tells the reader what she believes her most important points to be. I hope to adopt this habit when I finally begin writing my own blog.


Another way I find inspiration for my writing is by reading poetry. This summer, a friend shared this poem with me.



In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,

coming back to this life from the other more secret,

moveable and frighteningly honest world where everything began,

there is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.

What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.

To remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,

you are not an accident amidst other accidents

you were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window toward the mountain presence of everything that can be

what urgency calls you to your one love?

What shape waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?

In the trees beyond the house?

In the life you can imagine for yourself?

In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk? — David Whyte


When I read this poem, I imagine walking through the morning in a scene such as this:




I do not write poetry, but I do write songs, and that’s pretty much the same. I hope that someday, my lyrics will inspire others like David Whyte’s words inspire me. His utilization of the pronoun “You” makes me think he’s speaking directly to me and that he believes in me, even though we’ve never met. His word choice is impeccable. I’ve never thought that hard about my mornings, but he paints a picture of the beautiful tenderness that comes when we wake up every morning. I long to paint pictures with my words.

Multimodal Texts are Following Me (Please Send Help)

I read the first chapter of Writer/Designer on Wednesday, and I swear I have been scrutinizing everything I see and hear as a multimodal text since–Powerpoint slides during lectures, social media feeds, music videos, episodes of Scandal…the list goes on. I guess I had never thought much of the all the different ways my senses were being stimulated through linguistic, aural, visual, spatial, and gestural cues before now.

In particular, two multimodal texts have stuck in my mind throughout the weekend. Both were powerful, but in two completely devastating ways.

On Thursday, the grass on the Diag was taken over by 1,1o0 backpacks representing the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year. In my rush to class, I was unable to stop and read any of the personal stories detailing some of these students’ stories. Impacted none the less, I spent a good amount of time in my Linguistics 111 lecture researching the display. This is what I found:

SSP Web Flyer
This flyer reads, “1,100 STUDENTS DIE BY SUICIDE EACH YEAR: WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT IT?” It gives details about the Active Minds Program that took place Thursday, September 17th from 9:00Am-5:00PM on the Central Campus Diag.


This flyer literally took my breath away. It directly forced me to  face the fact that 1,100 college students die by suicide each year. The physical arrangement of the backpacks lined up on the grass was an ingenious use of the visual mode. I think it is sometimes easier to avoid thinking about horrifying things like people you know and love wrestling with thoughts or actions of suicide. This flyer made it real for me. It brought back terrible memories of experiencing one of my best friends in high school’s battle with depression. It made me thankful for his continued presence on this planet, thankful that he is not one of the 1,100.

All of this from a simple flyer. These Active Minds people really know what they’re doing.

Okay, on to the uplifting bit.

On Friday, my friend sent me a music video of Amanda Cook’s new song, “Pieces,” via Youtube link:


Amanda is a Christian artist and this song details the truth about God’s powerful love. Being a music video, it clearly utilized the visual mode, but the linguistic and aural modes were also very important to the impact it had on me. The scene pictured before the video starts doesn’t change much. The fog moves a little bit, but otherwise there is no change except for lyrics showing up in the image as Amanda sings them. It is a powerful scene. A little Twilight-esque, the forrest is the perfect picture of how God displays His power through His creation. It is big and wild, just like how Amanda describes His love through her lyrics.

The linguistic and aural mode came into play through the combination of Amanda’s singing and the inclusion of realtime lyrics. A lot of recent music videos are more movie-like with their plots and character development (think Taylor Swift) than this one is. The textbook, Writer/Designer, lists the delivery of spoken or written text as one way the linguistic mode is used to make us understand meaning. It is one thing to hear the words the musician is singing (aural mode), but actually seeing the words allowed me to comprehend her message more clearly.

The two multimodal texts I found most impactful were both visual mode-oriented, which makes sense since I am a visual learner. However, I have noticed that it is difficult to find a text that does not draw on the visual mode heavily. I think this theme will continue to be prevalent in this New Media age as people are constantly sucked to their screens, whether on a laptop, tablet, or smart phone. After all, the two examples I included here were accessed on my laptop. Being a Communications Studies major, I am extremely interested in continuing to study this visually generous culture.


Also, speaking of Twilight, if you haven’t experienced this yet, enjoy.