Anyone else get really nervous this time of year? If you say no, you’re lying. I’m nervous about everything right now. Grades are due soon, I’m still wrapping up papers and assignments. I’m traveling to South Carolina tomorrow morning (by car, alone).

And honestly, all I want to do is sit down and write. I’m working on a new screenplay and I have had to ignore it for so long because life has gotten in the way.

Just thought I’d share that writing is on my mind. A lot.

Summer goals….sans Facebook

Here’s an excerpt from my final paper for a class called “Digital Media Theory,” in which I talk about how I’m quitting Facebook for the summer to spend time with my family in Charleston, SC. I think it’s relevant to a writing class because what Facebook does is allow us to write to people in a more effective way. I’m calling it a “social experiment.” I’m 2 days in and already pleased with the results.

I have a long, long list of things (it’s at about 25 right now) I want to accomplish this summer. What if I fail after hyping it up on Facebook? What if I spend two hours or more a day on Facebook, and lose that two hours of time to do more important things?

Mostly, though, my concern there is this: what do I talk about when I get back to Ann Arbor in August? If everyone knows what I’ve been doing, I lose that ability to tell stories upon my return. It’s so annoying when I go to tell one of my friends good news about my day, and then they tell me they already knew because I put it on Facebook. My goal is to become the Most Interesting Man In The World (coincidentally, what I tell Siri to call me). I want to come back from my self-imposed exile with a new look, a ton of photos and videos, and many great stories of what will hopefully be a great summer.

My biggest inspiration behind this, however, is to spend time with my family. Quality time. Here’s what I mean: a girl, as I’m writing this, just walked by. We’re friends on Facebook because we had one class together a year ago and I thought she was really cute (and she still is, by the way). But today I wasn’t able to say hello or wave, not knowing if she ACTUALLY knew who I was. I don’t like that. I want to be able to give my family my undivided attention this summer. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to live near them again and I want to make the most of it before I graduate and enter the unknown abyss that is the real world. And I think I’d get much more out of that if I wasn’t on Facebook being distracted all the time.


What’s my most rewarding writing experience of the semester…..?

Well, I would say it was my remediation assignment fro Writing 200, but I consider that more of a film assignment than a writing assignment (and I encourage you all to check it out once I get it to upload to my portfolio).

What my most rewarding writing experience has been is actually 2 things:
1) a letter I wrote to a friend of mine I knew I wouldn’t see for a very long time. It was 8 pages long and said everything I wanted to say, exactly how I wanted to say it. I am considering uploading that to my portfolio, but I would have to change aspects of it to make it safe for public viewing.

2) I actually haven’t started this yet – but it’s very exciting. I mentioned it in a previous blog post, but I’ve been given a chance to write a screenplay I’ve been brainstorming for 3 years now. I’m very excited.

My new screenplay (feedback desired)

Hello all. Because I took a nap today and am not ready to sleep, and because I kinda sorta forgot about the blog for a couple weeks there (which is terrible considering I am on the blog committee), I thought I would share my ideas about something I’m working on and try to get feedback (please, anyone, feel free to respond).

The best way to describe what I’m working on is to give the timeline of how it developed:
-Summer before freshman year my grandpa was given six months to live and I starting writing an outline and character profiles for a story, hoping to one day write a screenplay based on my family.
-Fall of freshman year he passed away, and I did not handle it well.
-Winter of freshman year I watched the Godfather 2 and then wrote a 12-page, beautiful essay about my grandfather’s life, my relationship with him, and how no matter what I do with my career I know that what I want from my life is to live one like his.
-Sometime later, I wrote a three-page, single-spaced treatment (a detailed summary) about the characters I had written before. Much of it is backstory.
-I then put the project on the backburner. I decided that the story was too personal and too important to be taken lightly. I wanted to do it right and knew that I needed to grow as a writer first.
-Fall of junior year I took Screenwriting 1 (I’m a film major), and studied and practiced the art of screenwriting.
-Now, in the winter of my junior year, I have an opportunity to write a screenplay for a very important purpose, and I decided that I need to put my best food forward and have reluctantly retrieved the earlier documents from the vault.

Here’s the story, as I envision it:

A college student comes home from his sophomore year and learns that his grandfather has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He spends the summer living with and learning from his grandpa. He learns many life lessons, mostly that your life is defined by the relationships with you have, and specifically by your family, as he witnesses how his grandpa has been such a key figure in the lives of himself and his relatives.

Meanwhile, the young man’s family is very dysfunctional and in the midst of many ongoing feuds. The film will alternate between two stories: the present day, when the young man lives with his grandfather, and a past narrative where the grandpa grows up in Italy, falls in love, marries, moves to the US, and starts his new life. I’ll show how the grandpa was there for his family in their various times of need, and juxtapose that with his grandson struggling to find his way in the world.

In the end, what I want is two things. First, a family drama. Second, a story about a young man who learns from his grandfather that being a good husband, father, son, and friend will lead to a successful life.

What I’m struggling with, and what I want some help with, is how to take care of that second part, about the young man. In screenwriting theory, they preach this concept of “a hero’s journey.” The protagonist needs: 1) a clear goal (SAVE THE UNIVERSE), 2) strong opposition to the goal (DARTH VADER), 3) resolution (DESTROY DEATH STAR). I’m struggling to find exactly what my hero’s goal and struggle is.

Here are some ideas I’ve floated around:
-His goal is to make the most of what’s left of his grandpa. The opposition is cancer.
-His goal is to find out what he is supposed to do with his life. He is going to a great school with great expectations but cannot decide what his purpose is. His opposition is that he needs to take time off to be with his grandpa, but while he is trying to declare a major and find internships and enroll in classes. The resolution is that he learns from his grandpa that there are more important things.
-His goal is to bring peace to his otherwise shattered family. The opposition is that they just can’t get along.

I know I’m being vague, and there is a reason for that. Anyone feel free to chime in. Ask questions. Propose things. Tell me I don’t know what I’m doing. Tell me I’m brilliant and a visionary (although I won’t respond to those).


We talkin’ ’bout practice?

Ignore the title.  I just thought of Allen Iverson when thinking about how I was supposed to read an essay about reading for a writing class.

Anyone unfamiliar with what I’m referencing, here you go:

Anyway, the way Iverson feels about practice is the way I feel about reading.  It sucks, it’s boring, it has no point, and it should be eliminated from all curriculum anywhere and everywhere forever.

Hopefully my sarcasm is obvious enough.  Nevertheless, I usually point it out anyway.  I was cursed with a mean stare and a deep voice, which is unfortunate because then people often misunderstand my lame sense of humor.  But the point is, while I do love reading and of course see its value, I do struggle with it, both in terms of finding time to read and in understanding what I read.  On those standardized tests in grade school, I always killed the writing part then did very poorly on the “reading comprehension” section (I put that in quotes because the phrase became something of a taboo for me in my rise to academic prosperity).

That is why (yes there’s a point to this blog post) I enjoyed the Tierney/Pearson essay on the composing model of reading, in which one composes their own interpretation (or dare I say it, comprehension) of what it is they are reading.  The reason I liked it is that the model they describe is eerily similar to the common writing process (how ironic!!!).  <—again, sarcasm

They make it sound so simple.  The steps are clear, and ones I’ve followed many times before in writing: planning, drafting, aligning (I wasn’t sure what that meant until reading about it), revising, and monitoring.  My favorite step is monitoring, in which you take time to reflect on what you’ve read or written.

This process works so well in writing, and  following it can make for very effective results.  I feel I cannot be a great writer until I can overcome my reading demons.  And, I would love to be a better reader, just so I can enjoy reading again and not worry so much about it.  So, perhaps I should try implementing this model into my reading, and maybe I will have more success in “reading comprehension.”

If only I could get a guaransheed that it’d work:

In case anyone is interested…

I thought I’d re-share the link to my personal blog in case anyone wants to look at it.  I’ve been playing around with it, not only for my own purposes but also to start getting an idea of how to design on Blogger (which I use), in case I want to use it for my writing portfolio at the end of the semester.  It’s pretty cool in that it lets you customize quite a bit without giving you complete design freedom (which can be confusing).  Anyway, just thought I’d share.

Why I Write Progress

I’m in the process now of writing my first paper in the writing minor, the “Why I Write” essay.  It’s very difficult to do, because I’ve never really put much thought into why I write.  Writing has always just been something I enjoy and something I’ve had some success with.  But is it enough to say that I write because I enjoy it?  Of course not.  What I need to do, obviously, is find out why I enjoy writing so much.  What does writing do for me that  other things don’t do?  What other “things” am I comparing writing to?  Do I use it for communication, for expression, academically, etc?  Is the reason I love to write because of its flexibility?

All of these are questions I suppose I must answer as I write this paper.  But, as difficult as writing a good paper is, knowing why I write might be more of a challenge.

Also, there was a request on my last post to add a link to my brother’s YouTube channel, so here it is:

Here’s a more serious channel my brother owns, where he puts up music he writes and records himself (and a really funny/awesome video and song I helped him with you should all check out)

And, while we’re at it, since my three best friends are all studying abroad this semester, I decided I’d start back up on my personal blog, so here’s the link for that, too, in case anyone is interested (and I assume nobody is):



Technical Difficulties

…The title has nothing to do with the post itself, but rather an explanation as to why my first contribution is coming just now.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading the Andrew Sullivan essay about blogging.  I like how he broke down the word “blog” into its base: web log, and used this to begin an explanation of blogging and why he blogs.

One point that really resonated with me is how, while blogging is a way of commenting on the world, events, society, and time, the author usually ends up writing about his or herself, because, as Sullivan writes, “you are a relatively fixed point in this constant interaction with the ideas and facts of the exterior world.”

Sullivan talks a lot about writing in relation to a blog, and how a blog is a form of expression and creativity, a way of “self-publishing” as he says.  I think a blog can also be a form of communication, much like the other social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.  My favorite piece of writing is by a journalist, Mitch Albom, called, “The Courage of Detroit” – and please read it if you haven’t already – and in it, Albom talks about the perception of the city of Detroit and how the perception doesn’t line up with the reality.  I think blogging can, in many ways, help with issues of miscommunication.

I have another blog, a personal blog, that I haven’t written on in months.  It’s difficult to keep up with.  But my very first post was on this topic (why I blog), and I’ll include a few excerpts here:


My friends like to make fun of me for having a Twitter account (or, as I call it: THE twitter). Either they like making fun of me (which I’m sure is true), or they just don’t see the value in such a tool (which, again, is likely true). So in deciding to write this blog (and I thank my brother Austin’s new video series for the inspiration – check him out!), I had to ask myself if it was worth my while to invest a few minutes each day in yet ANOTHER form of online social interaction. And I came up with this justification:
One of the titles I’ve considered early on for my future novel is “Communication Breakdown.” It’s apparent to me – and I may be way off on this – that many of the world’s problems could be solved simply by communicating better with the people around you. With that in mind, I find it a good idea to embrace to social media as a means of moving toward effective communication.

Communication is something so fundamental, so important to they way we live our lives, that I suppose it gets neglected, or even abused, perhaps. Many of the stories that will form my novel center around a lack of – or just ineffective – communication.

In the age of text messaging and 140-characters-or-less, it’s hard to see the full picture sometimes. Words get twisted, stories get fabricated, opinions are formed, and lives are ultimately impacted, for better or for worse. So there are two choices: ignore it all or embrace it all. I chose the latter. Face-to-face communication is still the best, don’t get me wrong. If I have something important to tell someone I want to do it in person, and I hope that they grant me the same courtesy. But you can’t always be in the same room as someone.