Too Many Turtles

After finishing up my project proposal, I was happy to have a clear image in my mind of the characters, setting and plot for Mia the Marsh Mogul and so I began drawing the three main characters (Mia the turtle, Tommy the Beaver and Heather the Heron) to practice for the final product.

As I sketched Mia over and over again, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the difficulty of creating each drawing. But, when I stepped back, I noticed the enormous number of turtles on the page and thought about how the audience will see about 20 sketches of this turtle throughout the book.

Staring at the page, I realized how important it is that Mia is complex, slightly different in each of the drawings based upon her quirks, thoughts and emotions. And making Tommy and Heather dynamic is just as important since they will be seen several times throughout the plot.

But on the other side of the coin, the investors must have flat but intense personalities – they will only be seen once or twice, so creating a quick impression is vital to kids remembering them. I have a few of the characters listed below with some of the ideas for animals / personalities. Please let me know if you have any thoughts / ideas!

Private Equity Investor – a group of investors who gather money from institutions and wealthy individuals to buy whole businesses with loads of debt and then sell them at a profit years later.

Potential character profiles: 

1. A very fluffy sheep with a monocle that says “BaahahaBahaha” when he laughs (which is quite often because he is arrogant and makes fun of others). He tries to fool Mia into taking an extraordinarily low offer for her company while Heather is out of the room.

2. A friendly, fat bunny who drinks tea with her pinky up and has whiskers far too long for her face. She kindly explains the private equity business to Mia, but she declines upon realizing she would no longer have control of the business.

Venture Capitalist – an investor or group of investors who invest directly in a business, usually taking less than 50% of control of the business. They tend to work alongside existing management to grow the business.

Potential character profiles: 

1. A chubby cat with short, sharp whiskers who wears a golf cap almost covering his eyes and uses a walking stick. He speaks in short, blunt sentences in a scratchy voice. Overall, he has good intentions for helping Mia’s business, but he does believe he would eventually drive it to an IPO.

2. Two llamas – one is shorter than the other, and continuously smiles. She has one eye covered with her slightly unkempt mane, and wears a flower behind her ear. The other is taller and colder, with thin, square glasses and her mane slicked back.






So, I lied

So, I guess I lied today. My podcast isn’t 25 minutes…um its 53 minutes and 8 seconds. Yikes! Looks like I’m making 3 one hour episodes for this project? I’m feeling a little concerned. Should the episodes be divided into smaller pieces? How did this podcast end up being so long and why don’t the beats in garage band mean the same thing as seconds! Why does one bar equal 4 beats which equals 2 seconds?! WHO decided that!

Basically, I’m thinking I can divide my episode 1 in half. Around the middle Hanna and I switch to talking about being stuck and finding ways to move forward in a piece of art you’re having trouble with, but I also think that longer podcasts that are around an hour tend to be more the convention for the conversational style. What do you all think? What does your podcast experience tell you?

On the good news side of things I’m listening to the rough cut now and its better than I remember and kinda adorable if you ask me. I’m also perusing the music on Soundcloud and feel like I really have an advantage considering that this isn’t my first rodeo. I already have a couple artists in mind who offer free downloads as long as you credit their work who I discovered when I made my first podcast for the gateway course. It’s such a relief to have familiarity with working in the genre. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to sharing a bit of the rough cut with you all on Wednesday!

1: The Journey Begins

Both for me and Amir, the main character of my novella/novel: Dying Man’s Wish.


The Orontes, or “The Green River.” This is a scene-to-be in Dying Man’s Wish. I took this picture of the Asi (Orontes) River near the Beqqa Valley, in Lebanon. (Excuse the poor quality of this image; this is just a screenshot of the actual image).


The coming-of-age plot centers around the son of a grave robber, Amir, as he begins to gain perspective on life and death in an ancient Middle Eastern society. The setting will bring to life some of the monuments and stories native to the Middle East. In this way, I aspire to both comment on and alter history through a creative lens, the way I imagine my ancestors interacted with the monuments, or lived the stories we now tell. It’s almost like re-writing history, the way I imagine it, to create a piece of historical fiction.

The plot is narrated by Death, an opinionated, all-knowing entity whose form is left up to the imagination of the reader. Ironically, Death offers comedic relief at times, and bits of experiential wisdom at others. Mostly, though, Death is the primary raconteur of the story.

Other elements I want to incorporate into the novel/novella include social and political commentary on issues that still impact the Middle East today. In this way, I hope to discuss modern issues that are really just continuations of ancient issues, such as women’s rights and political corruption. Doing this grants me a way to discreetly, but not innocuously, “show the world its own shame,” in the words of Oscar Wilde.

But I also want to show the world its own beauty. In part, that is where the image above, along with others, come in. I will incorporate a series of images I have taken in my travels abroad to serve as various settings. More on this later 😉

Thank you for reading!

This Class Sucks!

Just kidding. 

But really.  Just between you and me?  I’m in quite the pickle!

  • Scenario one:  I opt for the microbiome website.
  • Scenario two:  I opt for the I Realized I Was Old When… website.
  • Scenario three:  I do both and somehow survive through the process.

While Scenario One is the most obvious and practical, it’s also the least accessible.  It’s hard to describe the problem this site would address because of all the jargon and science that needs to be prefaced.  On one hand, building this site would literally make my job easier for as long as I study bioinformatics at the University of Michigan.  On the other hand, it’s kind of boring.  Not to me, but I assume to other people.  The microbiome is cool, yeah, but is it cool enough to engage people at the showcase?  Yes, it’s shallow to care mainly about how this will be received at a one-time event, but that’s partly what drives my creativity; the connection that follows.

While Scenario Two is the most accessible and creative, it’s also not practical after this class.  While everyone in class seems to really enjoy the idea, to the point of wanting first dibs on merch, this website would only help me in a practical sense if I jump ship and switch to writing as my career choice, or at least incorporate it somehow into research.

This is possible, of course. There are dozens of opinion articles published in major journals every month, but I doubt they’d be open to how feisty I get.

Yes, I truly love both project ideas.  One focuses on the science side of my life while the other focuses on creative writing.  Yes, I could incorporate creative writing into the microbiome; I could synthesize the two, but it’d still be muted by the boring topic of microbiota.

My entire life I’ve contemplated this question:  scientist or writer?  At this very moment, I’m applying for a Ph.D. in bioinformatics while at the same time feeling the tug towards writing.  Feeling the tug I’ve felt my entire life towards just writing.  Of course this class has manifested itself perfectly into the very question I’ve hoped to avoid!

This is why I’ve clung to the idea of the oh, so beautiful Scenario Three.  It allows me to exist in the in-between. I can satisfy my scientific urges by creating the microbiome website, while simultaneously being the daring, creative type I always find an excuse to be.  I tried this, you have to give me that.  I enthusiastically wrote my five-page proposal for the Microbiome website, fully fleshing out each bullet point.  But once I turned my attention to the second website, I realized something:  I’m exhausted.   If I’m this exhausted just drafting up a second proposal, imagine the exhaustion after building two whole projectsI have to face the truth that each day I spend engaging with both ideas, I lose a day where I could have truly focused on one.  

But is that such a bad thing?

During the Gateway, my first assignment grew from 8 pages to 24.  I enjoyed throwing myself into that class.  My semester is light enough that I could theoretically entertain the idea of doing both, but should I?  Hey, even this blog post is already four times the minimum length required.  Is that a sign I have what it takes to tackle both?  

Honestly?  I have no idea.

I need to get this under control.

Hopefully by next time.

Until then.



P.S. if you read all of this, here is a gift:  some inevitable Netflix recommendations!

  1. Maniac A new Netflix original limited series starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.  It’s a truly gripping sci-fi story about two people with little left to live for.  Enter Neberdine Pharmaceutical & Biotech.  They have a three step drug process (named A, B, C) which promises to lead you through your deepest, darkest traumas, have you confront them, and come out, well, normal. Jonah and Emma don’t care.  Jonah needs money and Emma Stone needs more of the “A” drug, which she is addicted to.  Little do you know, they have their own inner demons that find their way to the surface.  They enter the company’s trio A-B-C drug trial and their story is told through an anthology of different genres and characters all while they sleep, all played by them.  It is unlike anything released this year.  (One season available for streaming, roughly 1 hour.)
  2. The Good Place.  At first, The Good Place, is a happy-go-lucky comedy where Kirsten Bell plays a woman who just went to heaven.  Unfortunately, she isn’t supposed to be there.  The software which decides who goes to the Good Place or The Bad Place messed up.  Kirsten Bell, who was a terrible person on Earth, finds herself accidentally in Heaven.  The one thing is, they (i.e. the Architects who built Heaven) don’t know they made a mistake.  The other thing?  The Good Place isn’t what it seems… the entire show is flipped on its head at the season one finale. (Two seasons available for streaming now, 30 minutes.)
  3. High Maintenance. (This one’s on HBO, but who cares?)  This is an anthology series about a weed dealer meeting the entire spectrum of humanity in New York, nearly every archetype of person.  While at first the show might feel shallow and episodic, though still hilarious, the show has a way of revealing surprising connections about characters, when at first, they seem to just be a filler character for the episode.  It has a way of showing you information about the dealer’s past, his family and love life without telling you they’re doing so.  It’s incredibly frustrating, because they explain nothing.  But the added mystery, makes the show that much more addicting.   As a bonus, each episode has these incredible slo-mo shots that they play during the credits.  It is a show like no other.  (Two seasons available for streaming; 30 minutes.)

(Don’t worry, I won’t do this again, I’m exhausted.)

It’s Not Painted Yet–Episode 1 reflection

Today I recorded episode 1 of my podcast with Hanna. I also named it It’s Not Painted Yet! It was whimsical and wandering and even though I haven’t listened to it yet I have a good feeling about it. One thing I’m noticing is that the boundaries between episode topics is loosening compared to my plan on the proposal. It’s become a living conversation that develops and meanders and rebels against structure. It also ended up being a little longer than expected (~26 min instead of ~20). It might shrink a bit in editing, but I might just keep every episode a little over 20 minutes. I’m planning to snag some music off of soundcloud soon to get the intro and the outro figured out. Hopefully what we recorded is actually good and cohesive so we won’t have to rerecord too much (we did take a few breaks because the air in the recording booth was VERY thin and stale). Anyway, I’m looking forward to recording episode 2 next Sunday!

So What Now?

Since my meeting with T, I’ve been considering completely revamping my project. Originally, my pitch to pursue making a poetry book was more of a “filler” in my mind; although I would’ve considered doing it, there were other ideas I was considering more seriously. After T’s encouragement though, I began thinking about what it would be like to actually write a short poetry book, and now I can’t get it out of my mind. Although I still like the commercial idea I was originally going off of, someone made a point in our small group discussion today that this may be one of the last times in my life where I’m given the opportunity to pursue this long-ignored dream. T also brought me book today, Premonitions, which is a poetry book by Elizabeth Schmuhl; this really inspired me and got me thinking about what it would be like to write my own poetry book. My biggest issue, however, is that I’m not sure which type of poetry I would want to pursue. On one hand, I’m considering working off of my small collection of poems, “1997,” which I submitted to the Hopwood Writing Contest sophomore year, but there isn’t really a focus to these poems, so I’m not sure what the purpose or audience would be. Additionally, I’ve considered writing a poetry book about my relationship with my mom, but I’m not sure I would be ready to share that kind of private work. Basically, I’m really stuck right now and confused as to which idea I should pursue, so if anyone has any suggestions — mainly whether I should stick with my old idea or go with a new one — I’d love your feedback.

Project Pitch: Advertising Storylines

Retrieved from:

Today’s pitching session was definitely more challenging that I expected; it was one thing to write all my ideas down on paper, but it was an entirely new experience trying to verbalize them to my peers. Part of the problem, I think, was because I wasn’t fully sold on any of my ideas myself. Of course, at the time they were conceived, I thought they were interesting, but the more I tried to plan their actual execution, the more I began to second guess myself. This isn’t a new feeling, however; I think any writer can sympathize with me when I say that the more you try to write, the harder it gets.

Beyond questioning my production plan, I was primarily concerned that other people wouldn’t find my ideas interesting enough. For this reason, I was shocked by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support I received after sharing, specifically towards my commercial-based idea. To be honest, I was completely winging it on that idea; writing storylines for commercials and advertisements has always been a hobby of mine, but I never thought anyone would actually hear my ideas unless I was asked to pitch them in an interview.

Moreover, hearing everyone’s feedback reinvigorated my excitement about this project, and made me feel significantly more confident in my work. It’s funny because my second idea was to write a personal narrative — which in theory should be much more difficult because it requires a great deal of honesty and vulnerability — but it was actually more nerve-racking to present my commercial pitch instead. Maybe after years of writing personal narratives (even when they were never read by others) I’ve subconsciously become more comfortable and confident in that style of writing, even when I’ve written about things that are not so comfortable. It’s a weird paradigm to process.

Anyway, I’m really excited about pursuing my commercial idea further and to continue receiving feedback from the class; it’s amazing how just a few moments of conversation can spark so many new ideas. It’s hard to explain, but usually when I’m creating these storylines in the car I get tunnel vision almost — the adrenaline induced by my sudden influx of creativity blocks out everything else and I’m completely zoned in on creating the perfect pitch. By the end, I feel almost high with excitement, imagining it playing out on a big screen, and that same rush is exactly what I felt leaving class. I’m shocked because my parents and siblings have heard so many of these they’re almost numb to them, but to be encouraged by people who aren’t required to support me / tell me my ideas are good is an incredibly exciting feeling, so I can’t wait to see how this project turns out.