My eportfolio is in its final stages! I am happy how it turned out. I have made a site like this before that I would describe as bare. It did not really express my interests or who I was. I feel like I had a bit more freedom with this site and I was able to express what I really wanted people to know about me. Aesthetically, I like the idea of large images taking up the screen versus text overload. Kind of like a gallery, very visual to convey the message and image I wanted. I am also pleased with my minimalist approach. I like clean lines and simple font that is consistent, so I think that I executed that rather well, when I could have gotten carried away with all of the fun colors and layouts!
Something that I am still trying to work on is the reflective comments. I am trying to find the happy medium between enough explanation and not giving too much away about the project. I think that I need to be less vague and go into a little more detail as to why I made the decisions I did and what challenges I faced when making changes.
Throughout the process I was very contentious of the fact that I was creating a platform for people to judge me. I know that the portfolio’s point is to showcase who I am as a person and writer, but I was very aware of the idea that other people would really be able to see me. With that being said, I think I was able to accentuate the aspects of my life that I really wanted people to know about. Three of the things I really love are sports, traveling, and writing. I think I was able to convey those aspects of my life well in this portfolio. I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!
Click here to check it out!

The Final Countdown

I cannot believe we have reached the final countdown in writing 220. This past week has been all about the remediation project. It has definitely been a longer process than I anticipated. It was nice to take a break and get my toes wet with the “Why I Write” piece, but I am still invested in the long journey that is the remediation project. After the peer review process, I have learned a lot about what is working and what can be improved upon. I am still in the process of meeting with a professional to advise me on fiction writing however, I think I have done a good job with cracking the surface.

I am enjoying fiction writing. I usually undergo extreme writers block when I write academic papers. Whether it be not knowing what information is important or how to eloquently word certain points, I get through it, but I struggle. I find that in my remediation project my writing is flowing rather smoothly and coming naturally. There are still some aspects I want to improve through the revision process, but as for the content I think I was able to capture what I wanted in each character.

What I am struggling with the most is the design aspect of the project. I am creating an iBook, which I have come to realize is somewhat limiting in it’s options of layout. I think it is a great program to work with, but I am challenged to make it work for the project. I am constantly changing the way I place photos and text. I am also attempting to find the perfect images to portray the characters I am emulating. I want them to be of good quality and authentic. This is the biggest challenge I am setting for myself in trying to select photos that I would have taken myself. Places I would have actually observed the people I am writing about in their environment. I hope I am able to emulate a type of “Humans of New York: Stories” for London and I am excited to continue working on it!

Academic Writing…I Forgot About You

Lisa Simpson is conveying what I fear will be my feelings after the Gateway course is over. I agree with these statements completely. What is academic writing again? I have been having so much fun exploring different genres that I have forgotten what it is like to write something like an argumentative essay or a critical analysis. I first got this feeling when I was writing an essay for another class. It was a product analysis and I found it difficult to keep my tone and voice professional versus what I have been doing for the repurposing and remediation projects.

With that being said, I enjoy that our assignments are not as conventional as an academic essay. I feel as though throughout the rest of the minor I will be able to engage with more work on academic writing, but I think that starting off with the Gateway course opens a lot of doors in my development as a writer. I did not expect this much freedom going into the course, so all of my ambitions of exploring creative/ free writing have been explored.

What I hope I am improving on most is my understanding of finding my own voice and tone and learning new genres of writing. This course has forced me to think outside of the box and I think that is exactly what I needed in order to develop as a versatile writer. I have also learned how to use certain technology that I never thought I would use. Who would have known that “alt-tag” would become a part of my everyday vocabulary! At this point in the minor I think that my writing has improved in the area of creativity. I have never been one to journal or write for fun, so the fact that things like writing this blog post come a little easier to me signifies that I am learning and becoming more comfortable with writing.

Writing Expanded

I remember when I first started this course I imagined I’d be up late writing lots of long essays and analyzing academic articles. Well this wasn’t true at at all. So far in this course I’ve just been analyzing myself. I could have chosen long essays to write, just like for every other class, but sticking to the familiar wouldn’t help me get everything I could out of this course.

Instead of essays I chose alternate forms of rhetoric, digital rhetoric, such as informative videos and web pages. I learned how to expand my ideas past pen on paper and transition toward more contemporary platforms. The world of writing is expanding fast and its so important that this course teaches writers how to capitalize on that. Just like Joan Didion, I write to peddle my message, to have the ideas in my head be served to a wider audience, whatever the medium. It is important to me that my writing reflects how I think and feel about the world around me. After all, writing is conveying one’s world to another.

By this point in the semester, after finishing my repurposing project and beginning on another, I’ve found my writing becoming more and more fearless. I feel like in the past I’ve been hesitant to express what I really wanted to say, afraid of displeasing some invisible writing overlord. But now for whatever reasons, probably personal growth, I care less about comments and more about being true to the message I want to express. I’m really proud of myself for becoming more bold, since it can’t be my best writing if the vision isn’t authentic.

Writing to Build Connections

I love the “Sticky note” function of my laptop. I use stickies for everything: to-do lists, class notes, thoughts that I am trying to get organized, passages from books or articles that really strike me, etc. I love that I can pull them up and put them away whenever I want—they are easily accessible and automatically save themselves.

Anyways. Getting to my point. When I was reading Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” there was a passage that really resonated with me, to the point where I felt the need to copy and paste it onto a sticky note, so that it would be a source of inspiration and trigger of reflection whenever I pulled up my notes on my laptop.

my disastrous sticky note screen

Here is the passage: “Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human–whatever authority a blogger has derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys….It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term, that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends.”

Ugh I love these lines so much. They have been guiding my work in Writing 220 as well as my reflections on the side. And they have helped me start to articulate my thoughts on the question Why do I write?

The human connection. That’s the crux of it. As Sullivan says, “a writer and a reader” are “linked in a visceral, personal way.” And he describes this connection as friendship.

In my re-purposing project, I am striving to forge a connection with my readers. A connection that is nothing less than friendship. We are all people, with hearts and minds, anxieties and pains… why not built connections through language?

As I am working to finalize my re-purposing and re-mediation projects, and beginning to construct my e-portfolio, my desire for human connection through writing is guiding my work. I hope that my final drafts of these projects succeed at fostering conversations and personal connections with others.

Orwell and Didion articulate slightly different motivations for writing than Sullivan, but I relate to their shared use of writing as a way to derive meaning from tangible elements of the outside world. Orwell declares, “so long as I remain alive I shall continue to feel strongly about the prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.” He continues, “the job is to reconcile my engrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.”

Orwell’s fixation on tangible, solid objects mirrors Didion’s fascination with “images that shimmer.” She says, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” She writes to answer, “What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

writing to bridge gaps
writing to bridge gaps

Both Didion and Orwell say that they write to build a bridge—to connect what is tangibly out there to what is meaningful. Orwell emphasizes the role of aesthetics in conveying a political agenda. Didion emphasizes the use of writing to answer questions about people’s behavior, and about her own self. They both write to build connections, between the concrete details that make up the material world and a deeper, meaningful, purposeful message.

Though the ideas of Orwell and Didion are slightly different from those of Sullivan, who focuses on the relationship between readers and writers, all three emphasize the capacity of writing to connect and bridge gaps. Between people, experiences, ideas. Between everything. I hope to do this as much as possible through my own writing.

Venturing into New Territories

Here we go! Into new territories, onto new modes of writing. I have never made an audio project before, be that a video, or a podcast of any kind—have always stuck to the written and visual mediums. So I am a little bit apprehensive as I enter into the re-mediation project process, taking on the work of creating a high-quality podcast to incorporate into my website.

Entering into this work makes me wonder why I have never created anything using the auditory medium. I guess it is not really encouraged in my classes—for the most part, students are assigned papers and/or visual projects. But if I were to have the option to use a different medium, would I?

Actually, now that I think about it, back in sixth grade I wrote and recorded a song for my music class with my friend. We used garageband to put it to some mellow background music. I remember being

Remember garageband? Is it still a thing?
Remember garageband? Is it still a thing?

embarrassed when I had to share it with other people. I was embarrassed because all of it was my own—the lyrics, the melody, and the voice.

I guess what scares me about making a video or podcast is that it is renders me even more vulnerable, even more exposed to my audience. When I am just sharing words, or visual work, they can’t actually see my face or hear my voice. I am hiding behind the text or the pictures that I am sharing. Sure, I am exposing pieces of myself through these other mediums, but I would argue that there is even more exposure when my voice and/or face is revealed as well.

Hiding Behind My Words
Hiding Behind My Words

One thing that worries me is my voice. Personally, I think it’s a really annoying one. My sister agrees—she shares my voice, and we regularly discuss how annoying it is. I am sure many people think the same thing about their voices—whenever we listen to ourselves recorded we have that visceral ugh, do I really sound like that? reaction. I am worried that I will sound bad in my podcast. Unprofessional, unnatural. Awkward.

Moving on to another matter, I want to talk a bit about the drafting process ahead of me. Chapter 6 of Writer/Designer discusses the use of storyboards and mock-ups during the drafting process for multi-modal projects. For my project the storyboard approach would be more fitting, as I am planning on making something that is not static, but rather moves through time. This makes sense to me, but I have a hard time visualizing what my storyboard would look like. Writer/Designer emphasizes the visual aspects of the drafting process, such as the use of video clips or loose, stick-figure drawings. Since I am only working through the audio mode, and not planning on having a visual component to my re-mediation project, the process described in the book does not seem very relevant.
I guess I have to use the essence behind the storyboard idea and adapt it to the medium I am working in. I will free-write a bit now to brainstorm on how to go about this:

Drafting. What is drafting. I always think of it as a visual thing, i.e. words on a page or sketches and doodles. It is hard for me to conceive of it as something oral. But why is this? Plenty of the drafting process is oral. I have conversations with friends, or in the peer writing center, about papers and those conversations are oral methods of going about the drafting process. Heck, doesn’t every paper, every idea, start with language, and communication? Perhaps. Though that’s taking me back to the question I explored in my philosophy class last year—whether language comes before or after ideas. That question causes me to go in mental circles. 

Anyways. So conversation, and spoken word, is a form of drafting, a form of idea-refinement. But how do I document this process taking place? Maybe I can record myself talking through some of the ideas I want to discuss in my podcast. I can then listen to how these little segments sound next to each other, and assess how I can make it flow better….

I think this is a super cool visual representation about how conversation can lead to new ideas...
I think this is a super cool visual representation about how conversation can lead to new ideas…

Of course, I can always write out drafts of my podcast in transcript form, but that process doesn’t seem like storyboarding…

So I guess I will try to approach my re-mediation project in the same way I approach the traditional essay assignment. I will loosely brainstorm and organize my ideas by using ugly language and a sort of cut-and-cut-and-cut-and-paste method. The only thing that will change is the medium.

How to target audiences

Today’s class was very interesting due to the questions asked. I always find it really interesting all of the different topics that we discuss. The question that sparked our discussion today was, “when you don’t agree and told to believe it, how do you respond?” This reflects our approach on how do we target to different audiences who aren’t interested in our topic. Through my discussion with Ray, I was able to understand how to maximize the utility/practical use to make different audiences to understand how my topic relates to what people are passionate for.

Thus, it is important to consider the different audience types to try and appeal to. My main audience include passionate sports fans who engage with sports in some aspect of life. My outreach audience would include people who are not die-hard fans, but enjoy to cheer on regional/local sports who cares at a broader scale. Finally, I would consider the excluded group of people who do not identify with a community. Their interest opts out of community identification. This was hard to identify because of my topic choice that includes sports and social media. However, after the discussion in class I was able to understand the importance of community identification that I will definitely include within my project.

What Is This, Physics Class?

You walk in to Physics class and you sit down to take an exam.  The test is passed out and, what a shock, you draw a blank.  It seems as if all that you can remember is what the problems actually look like and not how to do them.  You know that you’ve spent many hours studying and that something should look familiar eventually, but while you flip through the pages of the test, you begin to panic.  The panic makes things worse, and then all you want to do is leave the room for a water break but you don’t have any time to waste, and the list of struggles goes on from there.

Writing this memoir is a lot like taking a physics test.  Remembering all of the facets of the given test material is synonymous to trying to remember all of the different facets of my last 20 years of life.   It is tedious, thought provoking, and emotionally exhausting.  A lot of the time I spend “working” on the piece, itself, is filled with extended time lapses of blank stares and Facetime calls to my family members and friends.  Usually I call them with the intent of getting my memory jogged about something from my childhood, but typically the extent of the conversation ends up being not at all productive to the purpose of my essay.  It’s been a nice chance to catch up with people, though.

There are other times, however, when I am working and memories just keep coming to me.  As I unravel one idea, I am reminded of another idea, and then another idea, and another after that and the tangents become effortless.  At these times of writing, everything seems perfect.  I have found that forcing yourself to write is stressful, but rather allowing yourself to simply have a conversation with the piece of paper can be more therapeutic.  This is when writing becomes fun.

Because I have spent so much time outputting memories for this project, I have found myself spending very little time worrying about how I am portraying these memories on paper.  I need to rework every paragraph and every story in terms of structure.  I know what parts of my life pertain to what parts of the White Alma Mater that I am incorporating into the essay, but I have yet to imbed these lines in an appropriate way.  Once I achieve this, the essay will finally have flow.  I hope to be able to use the lines from the White Team Alma Mater as a literary devise in my writing so my readers can understand more about the song in context to something.  The song makes complete sense when it is sung at camp because it was made at and for camp.  But when you take this song out of context, it seems cliche.  Thus, I plan to add my own context to the song in hopes that my audience will fall in love with the lyrics as much as my fellow authors and I have.

Just as I have disregarded structural devises in my first draft, I have spent equally as little time working on diction.  My goal is to first get all of my thoughts out of me.  After I do that, I can identify what memories I want to keep in my story and what memories I want to trash.  After I do that, I can focus on the structural elements of my essay and then later, I can scale down to give my diction the attention that it needs.

This isn’t the way I would typically work through an essay but I find this system particularly appropriate to use as I tackle this type of media and writing style for the first time.

Bitter-Sweet’s Taste, and What You Eat After

Congratulations to us – we have finished the coursework of Writing 220. Sometimes it was excellent, sometimes it was merely acceptable. “The Maestro,” has sent the email regarding the completion of his portfolio assessments, so our stories (grades) are written.   For all intensive purposes, we are no longer a class.  Admittedly, I am STILL finishing some assignments for participation points.

But we are the winter 2015 cohort, and that’s why I decided to post something today.

The sadness I felt, combined with the inexorable wave of relief associated with all last-day-of-classes, says a lot about this particular class.  The latter is common, the former is not.  I thank you all and Professor McDaniel for eliciting that response in me.  It’s amazing to see the importance of a class manifest in an emotional form.

That feeling associated with us leaving is the longing to have the community, the support and the progress that we had during this class. Very few classes build that type of community and they should be cherished when they do.

This may seem a lot more sappy than I mean it to be.  I promise I’m not too bothered by eschewing homework for a while.  All I’m really trying to say is that this class was pretty cool.  And in whatever way this occurs, encourage and support one another.  Say hey when you see each other around (except for you, Joseph – I get you and your twin mixed up every time).  Like and support each other’s work on Facebook.  Run into each other at parties.  There were too many interesting and important moments in this class to not.

So cheers to the winter 2015 cohort.. I’ll see y’all around.

p.s. Professor McDaniel’s twitter is straight fire.

p.p.s. Don’t let him catch you smoking cigarettes.