Jonathan Franzen, Masks, Remediation, and Family

The interview that I chose to read was with Jonathan Franzen. I selected this interview mostly because although I had not read any of his work I had actually heard of him before unlike most of the people. I thought the little snippet that was posted on the main page was interesting as well:

“When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a ‘good writer.’ Now I more or less take my writing abilities for granted, although this doesn’t mean I always write well.”

This appealed to me because I know that I am personally still struggling with this first aspect. I am still struggling with, worrying about, and hoping that I am a ‘good writer’ at this point in my life. I guess it was interesting (and maybe comforting) to see that at least for him this had lessened over time.

A couple of different themes and topics from his discussion stood out to me and these include most significantly the three themes listed below.

In the interview one of the things that he discusses is the aspect of ‘masks’ in relation to writing and life in general. He talks about how writers are so preoccupied with the idea of using their own life experiences and emotions in their writing but doing so in a concealed way. Most of his progress as a writer he believes is due to him progressing on to wearing different masks as an author. As a young writer he thought that he could only wear certain masks to deal with his experiences through writing but as he has progressed he has been able to don different masks and deal with these experiences in different ways.

Also prevalent in his interview is the idea of remediation. He discusses how he is still dealing with similar themes as some of his earlier work but is just doing it in different (and according to him better) ways than he did before. His progression as an author doesn’t mean that he has moved on from discussing the same things that interested him early on just that he approaches them in a different way.

Finally one more thing that interested me about his interview was his discussion of how growing up in a house where art wasn’t appreciated very much influenced his growth as a writer. His parents were not very supportive of his wish to go into the arts and pushed both him and his brother towards the sciences as opposed to the arts. I kind of connected to this as my parents have always been very outspoken about focusing on getting a degree in something which offers concrete job opportunities. To them this doesn’t include careers in the arts and I think if they hadn’t been as outspoken with me I may not be majoring in the same things as I am now.


It Must Be True… I Read It On The Internet

I responded to my two selected posts for different reasons.

The reason I responded to the first post “Roll the Windows Down, And Enjoy the Ride” by Abigail Wilkins was that I really liked how Abigail talked about feeling insecure and unsure about the minor and the course. The story that she used I related to and she drew me in to read the rest of the post. I am a natural worrier and one of the things that I will worry about most is fitting. I have been worried about not knowing enough about reading, not being a good enough, not fitting in with the other people in the minor, and a variety of other things since finding out I was accepted into the minor and enrolling in the course. Abigail helped to remind me that the minor, this course, and everything else that goes along with it was going to happen anyways and that I might as well go along with it and try to enjoy it.

The reason that I responded to the second post “Advice to future writing minors” by Anisha Nandi was that I thought that it gave some great advice for getting the most out of the course. What drew me stylistically to her post was that she offered them in a list style that allowed me to see the advice that she was going to give at a quick glance. Thus I could see what she was going to talk about and whether I was interested in hearing about that. Specifically the first and last pieces of advice stuck with me. First that I should commit myself fully into the work for the minor. This at first seems like common sense but I also feel like this is something of which we need a constant reminder. Then the other point was that we shouldn’t compartmentalize this experience and knowledge into just this class. This also is something that causes us to say “Duh” or “Of course” once we hear it but is something that we always need to try and remember.

“Interesting” Things About Me and How I “Write”

Hello, my name is Tyler Fink and I assume that you can deduce by this point that I am minoring in writing.  Beyond that my current plan is to double major in Statistics and Psychology while also minoring in Mathematics. I know, I am insane. I am currently in my third year here at Michigan and am becoming more and more aware with each passing day that I will be done in a little over a year. My plans for the future are nearly nonexistent and when that day comes in around a year and a couple months I don’t really know yet what I want to do with my life. But let’s steer clear of that fact for now.

What do I know and what do I like? I read quite a bit during the summer when I actually have the time to really get into a book. I would read during the school year but don’t really have the time. I enjoy watching TV as well and some of my current favorites include Game of Thrones, Modern Family and Survivor. I also spend a lot of my spare (and not so spare) time on the internet doing absolutely nothing and wasting my time.

I am not the most active person and I definitely don’t exercise all that much. However I do play “walleyball” (volleyball in a racquetball court) fairly often with some of my friends. I was an All-State tennis player in high school but could probably count on one hand the number of times that I have played since starting school here. I also sporadically decide that I should start running and have ran two 5Ks while in college (this habit never really lasts long though).

I am originally from Comstock Park, Michigan which is on the west side of the state just a little bit north of Grand Rapids. It is a small town that exists right on the border between the suburbia of the greater Grand Rapids area and the rural farmlands that exist outside of it. The public high school that I went to was only around 600 people in total and with a few exceptions I knew the names of all my classmates when I graduated.

I am overall a quiet person, especially with people that I don’t know very well. My sense of humor consists mostly of terrible puns and sarcasm. I am a horrific mix of being organized and a mess. I have a terrible habit of ignoring things that I don’t want to think about which causes half of my problems. I also procrastinate a lot but can do so very strangely by baking (which my roommates love), cleaning, or organizing.

My process for writing reflects my personality this a lot. Basically, once I actually focus enough to start writing it comes out of me in chunks of sentences or paragraphs at a time. I write for a bit and then once I have lost the thread I will look back at what I have just written and realize that nothing actually makes any sense. In one sentence, I have written the same word twice without realizing it as I changed the tense or phrasing as I wrote. Another sentence will be three lines long and completely devoid of any punctuation. Yet another will just sound awkward and wrong. I fix all of these errors in what I have just written and try to make it flow well together in at least some semblance of order. Then, after achieving this, I will look at how much I have written and how long it has taken and either panic or feel relieved. I will repeat this process of writing and revising smaller sections slowly until I have completed the entire paper. Depending on length and my current state of fear, I will have stopped a varying number of times for at least 30 minutes to an hour to take a “five minute break” while writing.


Me and my twin brother Dylan. (I am on the left)
Me and my twin brother Dylan at the Ohio State  game. (I am on the left)