A Semester in a Website

Hello Writing Community!

It has been an interesting semester to say the least. The Gateway grants its students a great deal of autonomy and flexibility; I believe I have utilized both of these to my advantage, developing relationships with classmates as academic peers and friends alike. People can use this class as a platform to express themselves, as a means of getting a certain grade or credit for school, or a tool to learn about a given subject they are interested in. As a sophomore in college, it is an important time to start reflecting on what I want to pursue as a career. While I may or may not want to go into real estate/urban development, a strong theme in my work for the semester, I do acknowledge that whatever I do will require writing. I can confidently say I am a more versatile and tactful writer than I was January 8th.

To those reading this… please write anything. A thought, a song, a movie, a book, a short story, an inquiry. While time can be escaped through listening to music, and time can be released through breathing, time can truly be felt through writing. With that, I leave you with my ePortfolio for the semester (And final project) ! I hope you enjoy

Also, in general, remember that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

https://amaxg1.wixsite.com/andreweportfolio 

https://andrewgreen55.exposure.co/the-corner-of-woodward-and-grand-river?source=share-andrewgreen55

Here is a little preview…

Make-One-Get-Three

Though I’ve been crafting several novels in my head for years and years, I’ve rarely worked to create something novel-related other than the stories themselves. That’s why, when T first introduced these “experiments” we would be making, one of my first thoughts was to use one of my novels as my origin document. Eventually, I decided I was going to use a novel for middle-grade readers (titled “It’s Pronounced ‘Pegasus’”) that I had started writing very late last year/early this year. 

Once I had the origin piece set, my experiment genres were soon to follow. I decided that my first experiment would be a sound essay capturing a “morning-in-the-life” of my protagonist – a medium I had never heard of before but was willing to try. My second experiment would be a book trailer (something I had always dreamed of making, anyway), and my third experiment would be a book website/author website.

The top of the landing page I’ve started making for my website

While each experiment was enjoyable to make and left me wanting to create more and more of it, I had to pick only one for my final, realized experiment (FRE), and that pained me. Luckily, I found a bit of a loophole. As such, for my FRE, I will be combining all three of my experiments into one by finishing my website (experiment 3), which will include the sound essay and book trailer as “Extras” on one of the clickable tabs.

Though I portray this little bit of ingenuity as a sudden revelation, it was actually my plan from the beginning. I always wanted to create the best website possible, and I thought that would mean including the other two realized experiments, too – which would require that each of them be finished in order for the website to be fully realized. But my plans changed slightly toward the middle of this journey.

Once I realized how time-consuming these experiments were – and how I was drawn to finish the other two experiments, anyway – I decided that I would make my book trailer my final experiment. I had gone above-and-beyond with the Sample, basically finishing it instead of just giving it a taste, and so the only still-needed piece to call the book trailer fully “complete” was an image of the book cover – which I would need to spend some time designing. In the course of making the Sample of my website, however, I also needed to make an image of the cover for the landing page (“Home” page), and so adding the already-made book cover to my book trailer was an easy few clicks from there, and my Experiment 2 was complete.

The book cover I designed for “It’s Pronounced ‘Pegasus'”

As such, I feel like I have no choice but to fully realize my Experiment 3, as it is the only one that still feels a bit “incomplete,” and – as my initial ideas indicated – the trajectory of my experiment journey seems to have been building toward a fully-realized website from the start.

One of my chief concerns is always time, but I think I’ve put in enough effort already to make it work. I’m also a bit worried about the logistics of it all, but I know I have resources in T and in my classmates, should I need them in the next few weeks. Other than that, I don’t think I have many concerns about this project. Now that I’ve accepted my fate, this feels completely doable.

My next steps will simply be to finish what I’ve started. This will mean tweaking the “Home” page, adding author bios (one short, one long) to the “About” page, finishing out what I’ve started on the “Book” page, and creating an “Author Q&A” for the “Extras” page. Even though this might sound like a lot of work on paper/screen, I think it will be manageable over the next two weeks. But, even so, wish me luck!

Metamorphasis of a City Block

I will be advancing my third experiment into a final project submission format. The experiment was a sample of a photo essay of my trip to Detroit in which I highlighted the new Shinola Hotel as well as its revolutionary impact on the surrounding area. This experiment was the most desirable to continue working on because of its limitless communicative potential- alongside pictures, I intend on implementing opinions, overheard conversations, and thoughts that I/nearby people had at that moment and place.

I am slightly concerned about effectively narrowing down my camera roll from the trip to Detroit; I took over 150 pictures of that block including the interior and exterior of the hotel as well as adjacent businesses. While I used Powerpoint and Word for the experiment for this photo essay, I will use an official web platform to creatively relay my story and perspective on the day.

I would ideally like my ePortfolio to represent the recurring theme between my experiments and origin piece – the gentrification/revitalization/renovation of urban landscapes. On this note, blurred background images of modern buildings and construction projects would be fitting for each page of the website. While I have been passionate about each experiment that I’ve done, I want to include a blurb about each experiment and what I learned from them. More generally, I would like to have an about the author segment to give the reader some background on my personal interests so they can better relate to and connect with my final project.

Folding Up My Final Project

For my final project in the Minor in Writing Gateway course, I’ll be finishing my experiment 3: a pamphlet encouraging readers to start a journal.

Actually, I’ll be writing two pamphlets. I realized part-way through my experiment that I was really trying to address two audiences that were very different: adolescents and college students. I’ll be writing two different versions of my project using language and resources that are best correlated with the audience in mind.

I targeted these two age groups because these time periods are highly stressful and are when many mental health problems first show up. Since journaling has many emotional and mental health benefits, I thought it could be especially useful to these groups.

My sample from Experiment 3, aimed towards the college demographic.

This project is really meaningful to me because songwriting, which was my form of journaling, helped me through some really tough times in middle and high school. I was able to rant, tell my side of the story, ask questions, or create a happy ending all through my songs. I would love to help others find this release and explore their writing in a new form through this project.

I plan to finish designing the pamphlets and then print some out to distribute. I might stash some on campus to see what happens, or T suggested reaching out to a local high school to see if they might be interested in having some available to their students. This way they can actually get in people’s hands and, hopefully, impact them in a positive way. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this project!

Risk (vs Practicality)

For experiment 1, I was admittedly slightly too ambitious. My ideas were a bit too grand for what I could actually do, and I had to change the direction of my sample in order to realize it.

For experiment 2, though, I’ve been feeling bored. Sure, everything has been fairly straightforward, actionable, and the familiarity of the genre carries an odd comfort.

Perhaps I did them in the wrong order. While I was working on experiment 1, I felt partially blindfolded, which wasn’t too great considering the ambition I envisioned.

There’s no need to dwell on the past though. These experiences have made me excited for my third experiment, which is I consider to be a nice balance of risk and practicality.

Maybe this is just one of those “third time’s a charm” situations. It’s my opportunity to return to the center field after the first two experiments pushed me up, down, left, and right.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to it.

Experimentation in How to Express

I’ve found that I am in love with my origin material.

I love the idea of gratitude and showing some kind of appreciation for what the important people and things in your life do for you. I want my experiments to be the most effective and powerful way of doing this.

I liked the idea of my first experiment, the Humans of New York-like blog that asked people to ponder what they are grateful for. On paper, it had everything I wanted: involved other people, incorporated photography, clearly expressed gratitude. But I felt as though I didn’t have much of a voice through this experiment. I was just a curator, a mode through which other people could express their thoughts.

Experiment 2 feels a lot more promising, like something I would enjoy in the long run. It is a poster campaign where I have designed little images telling people to “be grateful,” or “say thank you.” I have also created an email address (thegratitudeprojectAA@gmail.com) to which participants can submit someone or something that they are grateful for to then have it posted on a social media page or website somewhere. This experiment allows me to express my own creativity, while still being interactive with others.

Looking forward to experiment 3, I know that I have a lot of research in my future. Hard, scientific, empirical research. I am essentially writing a lecture about the correlation between gratitude and happiness in humans. Research is not necessarily my favorite thing to do, but since I am passionate about the subject matter, I think it should be ok. I am looking forward to being able to deliver the final product, once all the hard work and organization is out of the way, and just talk about something that I am really interested in and want to share with other people.

That is what the experience of doing these experiments has been about for me: how am I best going to share the importance and fulfillment that recognition of this special quality of gratitude could add to any individual’s life?

Disaster

I originally wrote a boring introduction of myself last week but never ended up publishing it. I’m Maya. I’m a sophomore in the Music School. I play orchestrally and in an indie band. I do other things but I don’t think anyone would care. I have a hard time writing about myself in a public setting. That’s about it.

I like to write (or attempt to, at least) because I believe it’s another form of art similar to what I do in music. I want to be able to perform on paper as well as I do on stage. That being said, I tend to have dry humor or moody shit in my writing. I think I get my creative or free writing confused with my songwriting because I tend to steal ideas or phrases from both to use on either side.

For my Gateway project, I think I am going to focus on my life growing up in shooting sports. My origin piece is an instructional video I made in high school about gun safety and the art of skeet shooting. I still have to decide what I am going to do for the experiments. It’s a bit of a disaster at the moment.

Who I Am

Hello! I am Sydney.

I am from Lake Isabella, MI. I am a friend, daughter, student, and leader. I am an eternal busy bee, social butterfly, and breakfast fanatic. I am passionate about creativity, standing up for people, and having FUN! I am a huge fan of naps. I am a believer, dreamer, reader, and writer. I am at my best when I am surrounded by other people.

I am writing to connect with others. I am writing to release my wild emotions and thoughts to roam the world. I am writing to improve myself. I am hoping to leave a legacy behind me.

I am choosing a blog post that I wrote about a year ago titled Twenty as my origin piece. It is a post that describes how I felt about being at that age and what it meant to me to be at the crossroads between adulthood and childhood. It was also a very vulnerable piece for me to write and it took even more vulnerability for me to share it with the world. I am planning on creating a photo essay, video essay, and timeline of my life that are all inspired by what age means and who I am.

I am really excited to tap into my creative side this semester. Creativity has for most of my life been very daunting to me. I think most of that comes from the fear of failing. I am now trying to make up for lost time. This class has created an environment where I feel comfortable trying things out. I feel encouraged and I am not going to let fear hold me back. I am ready to try different mediums. I am nervous but very excited to explore and see where I end up.

I am wondering what I am going to enjoy and what is going to challenge me but most importantly wondering at the end of the semester, who will I be?

Hello…

…my name is Bailey and I’m a junior, just getting started in the Minor in Writing. I’ve heard our cohort has a pretty diverse set of majors, but I’ve yet to encounter another Computer Science major (I’m sure I will.. eventually). You might be thinking “Hmm, why would a CS major spend time to get a minor in writing?” At least, that’s what I think you’re thinking.

Quite frankly: there’s only so many CS courses I can take simultaneously. When I was taking a notoriously difficult intermediate-level course, EECS 281, I went to a discussion section where the senior undergrad IA/TA was late, apologized, and said, “Kids, never take more than two EECS courses.”

That comment stuck with me, even though I’m taking three EECS courses now (thankfully, it’s not too overwhelming). So, the minor in writing is how I plan on padding my schedule. And, of course, the gateway course is the beginning to that.

I’ve decided to revisit Coins, an essay I wrote during my first semester at the University of Michigan for my LHSP 125 course, which focused on writing about film. I’m really happy with how I integrated the philosophical debate of free will vs. determinism into the essay, and I’d like to focus on that particularly as I work on my experiments.

Speaking of which… I plan on doing: a video essay, an op-ed, and a web app. I’d like to maintain some flexibility as I approach these genres, but I have some general ideas for each. For the video essay, I’d like to take some inspiration from some of The Nerdwritter’s YouTube videos and present some of the ideas from my essay with some nice visuals and (of course) a voice over.

The op-ed will be most similar to the essay in terms of medium, but I’d like to take the opportunity to make something with more opinion. For the original essay, I tried to take a neutral, diplomatic stance. But–for the op-ed, I’d like to shorten things up, make bolder claims, and focus on a personal argument rather than a broad view.

Finally, I’d like to use the web app as a way to tell a story, but with the added implication of interactivity for the user. Since the philosophical debate I talk about in the essay centers around whether or not we have free will, I think it’d be fitting to have something where users make choices.. but maybe end up with the same conclusion.

My Pegasus and Me

Summing up an entire person in a handful of words is an impossible task, but I’ll try to provide you a peek. My name is Alexis Aulepp, and I’m a junior, a COMM major, a book-lover, a night owl, a people pleaser, a “mom friend,” and a writer. Some of my interests include poetry, photography, dad jokes, my faith, good food, cute dogs, and random acts of kindness. My favorite place to be is inside my own head, and my least favorite place to be is inside my own head (or the gym – that place is a nightmare). I write (in part) because I like to spend a lot of time in my favorite place. I keep writing (in part) because my least favorite place gets dark sometimes, and written words often provide the illumination I need.

While I’ve been writing in a variety of forms and genres my whole life, it wasn’t until middle school that I started taking “book writing” more seriously. I had written several “books” before then, but Eighth Grade was the first time I fully fleshed out what I hoped would be my first novel (eventually, trilogy). While pieces of this story have been written, I always found myself spinning my wheels, knowing too much of the characters and the world and the potential plot to dare put the wrong thing down on paper. This hesitation to tell the story incorrectly was, I think, why my Origin Piece became exactly what I needed: a shot in the dark with no expectations (other than to have fun writing it).

My Origin Piece, then, is the first three chapters of a novel for middle-schoolers that I’ve started writing – this time on impulse, with only a vague and malleable sense of plot and almost no sense of characters (save for the protagonist). This novel, titled “It’s Pronounced Pegasus” (or I.P.P. for short), is a gossip magazine, Disney Channel Original Movie, and stereotypical coming-of-age tale all packed into one. It’s narrator and protagonist, Logan Ceallaigh, is the self-proclaimed “Pegasus” of her high school, and she’s just as quirky and hilarious as her chosen moniker implies. Unfortunately, Logan is given another moniker after her first day of high school goes laughably wrong, and this launches a bullying scandal that will be played out over the remainder of the novel. Shortly after the bullying scandal reaches its peak, however, there’s a twist: Wes Cameron, the golden boy of Logan’s grade, asks her out. The resulting plot they hatch catapults Logan into the ranks of the popular, leaving her to grapple with the meaning and value of “popularity,” as well as how this newfound status is changing her.

Since I don’t know much about Logan or her story yet (other than what I’ve listed above), I’m really excited about how these experiments are going to push me to understand the novel in new ways. I’m hoping to explore more of who Logan is and why the events happen the way they do, as well as get back in the “freshman year of high school” mindset. To do this, my current plan is to make a website, a book trailer, and an audio essay as each of my experiments, with the eventual goal of making the website the completed project. Upon completion, the website will house both the book trailer and the audio essay, as well as other cool extras like character bios, cover art, and interviews with the author.

It may be a bit preemptive to make an entire book website before the book is even written, but what can I say? I’m a writer! And, as with any writer, my overactive imagination is both a blessing and a curse, a reason to love my mind and a reason to fear it. Hopefully, this class and these experiments will bring out the best in me, but there’s a big chance that this plan is too ambitious for my perfectionism and grand, creative dreams. But, I suppose there’s only one way to find out. As with any writing, I’ve just got to get started.

Here’s a draft of the “back of the book” blurb for It’s Pronounced Pegasus