I’m back…again! I’m starting to think that I’m using these blog posts as an excuse to avoid working on my actual project but it’s fine, everything’s fine. We’ll get there one day…
I actually really need some help right now – as I’m starting to think about (finally) writing the storylines for my own ads, I’m stuck on what to write about, so I need some inspiration. I’m definitely going to include the car mats commercial I told you guys about in class, and I have a few others in the back of my mind, but I’d really love some other suggestions. I know originally I said I was going to pick obscure objects that aren’t typically the center of marketing/advertising materials (i.e. paper bags or paper clips), but I’m willing to broaden my focus.
Zach and Sydni gave me some really great suggestions yesterday like Q-tips or straws — thank you again — but I’d really love some more! Or, if you’ve seen an ad that you really liked (or didn’t like), I’d love to hear / see those too because it’s really useful for my research and inspiration.
Well, the end is nearing my friends, and like Kate Hudson so prophetically states in the movie Almost Famous, “It’s all happening.” Not just “all” is happening, but rather at this point in the semester, for me and many others, it seems like way too much is happening. I know this is supposed to be a reflection on the gateway course and our time this semester, and I promise I’ll get there, but sticking to the movie references and touching on the fact that way too much is happening, I’m starting to feel like Jack from Titanic. My sanity and any sort of free time is Rose, and she was holding on there for a minute, but the girl has officially dropped me into the depths of my insane amount of work, and I am definitely drowning. I AM DROWNING. It’s okay though, because I’m looking at Kate Hudson’s wise words, I’m envisioning myself as her, and since she rocks, and I have convinced myself I am her, I’m going to be a-okay. I hope no one is totally freaked that convincing myself I’m a celebrity is what gets me through hard times, although I’m aware it might be somewhat concerning.
Want to know what rocks, though? The fact that if I had chosen to write about Kate Hudson all semester, or if I wanted to chronicle my weird obsession with pop-culture for the entire term, the gateway course wouldn’t have questioned me, it would have encouraged me. This course, the projects I’ve done within it, and what I’ve learned about myself as a writer have been nothing short of insanely rewarding. This is going to sound so, so bizarre, and my friends make fun of me for it all the time, but I always refer to these feelings I get in my stomach/body during different times of the year. For example, when I think about summer I get this feeling of bliss and relaxation that washes over me. It’s a feeling that mirrors whatever emotional state or sense I was experiencing at the time, and I can’t explain it. I just feel it. This semester, every time I’ve sat down to work on something for the minor, every time I’ve walked into class and any time I’ve discussed my work with my peers in the minor, or even my friends who still can’t fully understand why in the world I’ve been photographing random people around Ann Arbor and asking them questions about humor for the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten this same, great feeling. It’s a feeling of inspiration and comfort, and it’s one that was pretty much established within the first month of this course.
The gateway has allowed me to establish a greater sense of confidence and pride in my work. I’ve been encouraged to pursue writing I love, and the fact that the environment is so comfortable has made it easy for me to push myself. Even though I’m drowning in work right now, just sitting here to type out this blog post for class is giving me a sense of comfort and inspiration. No, I’m not inspired to drop out of school and pursue acting like Kate Hudson, but yes I am inspired to keep writing. I’m really going to miss the “Writing 220 feeling in my stomach” I’ll experience when looking back on the course, and I’ll, inevitably, have a hard time articulating the feeling to anyone, which is ironic being that articulation is usually a writer’s strongest skill.
I’m pretty excited to try this Remediation project, especially since Emily and I will be working together. The two of us have different skills, but combined, we can really create something interesting. The theme of our project is going to be on looking at life in new ways, stopping to take time and see what’s around us, and finding what’s inspirational for each person. There is such a plethora of opinions and perspectives available to us on a daily basis, and unlocking this potential is what our project will be centered around.
Our audience will be people our age and our subjects will be people that you could encounter any day on the street, and maybe not spare them a second glance. This will be about really looking at our environment, uncovering all the learning opportunities that are available in each person that we have the potential to meet, and harnessing it in a form that can be shared with other people.
At this stage in our lives, we are achieving milestones and making decisions like none we’ve made before. It could be called a quarter life crisis. Seeing what other people have done, hearing their recommendations from their own experiences, and applying that and introspectively looking at ourselves, could offer the insight that we need to redefine ourselves and help us make these decisions.
I was describing the minor in writing to a girl I met at a group interview today. After describing the freedom the minor gives students to choose topics that interest them most, she said the minor sounds interesting but, “I am not very good at writing.” I proceeded to explain to her the unique approach the gateway course for the minor has facilitated my writing development.
The gateway course provided me with resources such as readings, video documentaries, peer evaluations and perspectives, and speaker series with professional writers. Each resource has given me a different point of view on what makes “good” writing. We read “Shitty First Drafts” by Lamont where I discovered that professional writers face the same struggles that I do in writing. We also read “Why I Write” by Orwell and “Why I Blog” by Sullivan. It was great to see what inspires them to write and it challenged me to explore the same question for myself, with a new perspective.
The class was an advocate towards feedback and group discussion. My classmates helped shape my writing into my best work. Not only peer corrections but group discussion aided in my writing development. My classmates have exposed me to new perspectives on writing.
What I enjoyed most about this class was the flexibility to engage in topics that interest me most. Through our semester long project I was able to work with an argumentative essay I had written on Cape Cod, ““Save Our Sound”. Cape Cod is my favorite place on earth and I was able to address multiple audiences on the subject of preserving its beauty. My passion for the topic allowed my final work to be some of my best.
What really hooked the girl I was describing the minor to was my explanation of writing in new media. I told her that you didn’t have to be “great” at writing. In fact, in exploring new media writing I took an essay I had written and re-mediated it into an imovie! She was fascinated by this assignment.
Sweetland’s Minor in Writing does an excellent job of accepting you as writer, wherever you are in your development, and facilitating growth and improvement.
I attended the Screen Arts and Culture event where there was a viewing and Q & A with Will Reiser, writer and producer of 50/50 and… Seth Rogan’s best friend, which I was particularly impressed with. 50/50, for those not familiar to the film, is presented as a “humorous cancer story”. Reiser himself had cancer and thought that all the films about cancer previously made were sappy and unrealistic, an alienated middle aged person who gets cancer and reconnects with their family and goes on a soul searching journey to Africa. As Reiser pointed out, his immune system was so weak, “…there’s no fucking way I could have gone to Africa”. So he made a “cancer comedy,” if there is such a thing, and 50/50, I thought, turned out to be a great movie and balanced the humor and the tragedy very well.The parts of the event applicable to this class in particular was his discussion on developing the script. On script development:
It took a year and a half to write an outline (his outlining is extensive because he enjoys writing much more)
He did a revision of the outline and then sent it to Seth Rogan
It then took him a year to write the first draft
He submitted it to a director, got back notes
Wrote another three drafts over a series of two years
He then submitted it to Jonathan Levine (the director) and it was then still constantly being revised as they shot the movie.
My initial reaction was “holy cow that is forever”. But then he talked about how his characters had to develop, he was describing how he “talked to them” and “they talked to each other”. He talked about how he had to discover their childhoods, the relationships between them and their parents, and if they had any siblings or romantic interests. All this for major and minor characters, some of which appeared in only a couple of scenes. This commitment to the story must have taken for ever because he is basically creating a collection of people’s lives. It made me realize how difficult good writing can be, and why this movie was so good; he worked really, really hard and as a result the characters were multi-dimensional and very realistic. Also, the collaborative aspect was really important in writing the script, which is something that is especially present in this class.
I really enjoyed the film and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it!
That was me a few minutes ago. I admit – I’ve been sitting at this desk simply dallying for way too long now. I wrote three paragraphs that sounded pretty decent at first, but, when reread, sounded downright boring. So here I am, waving my white flag and surrendering to my lack of inspiration.
The beginning of my writing process used to start out this way. I sat down somewhere quiet, let my cup of coffee slowly turn cold, stared off into space for long periods of time, and hoped that somehow, anyhow, I would feel a sudden, thrilling spark of inspiration. That last bit almost never happened. Even when it did, I still doubted that the inspiration was really good enough. What if my idea wasn’t actually a smart one? What if it was just an idea I’d pick up somewhere and thought I was good enough to think of? Whose voice am I writing in then? The obsessing normally came to a halt only when I glanced at the clock and realized how much time I’d wasted mostly spacing out and entertaining an immature hope. Read More
When I was in high school, my mom kept asking me why I wouldn’t compile all my essays together to make a neat collection. She gave me all sorts of reasons: that my teacher asked for it (“Fine, I’ll give her copies of some of them” – I never did), that she wanted to read them (“Okay, I’ll let you read a few” – never quite got around to this), that it would be good for me to keep track of my progress. Every time, I would mumble an unrelated excuse and hope that she’d stop asking me to do it. I just didn’t want to do it. Most of my writing never ventured out of my paper and virtual folders. The ones that did make it out were turned in for evaluation.
I was happy with the mess of papers in my folders and the assortment of oddly-titled documents on my computer. Most importantly, I liked that my haphazardly thrown together collection was for my own eyes only. I did want to let my mom read what I’d written, but often times I ended up thinking, “Maybe not this one. Maybe the next one.” For some reason, I felt so attached to the things I’d written that letting someone else read them, especially someone as close as my own mother, was daunting. I simply didn’t want to be judged on my writing. That territory was a no-no for me.
I’ve decided to post my blog a lot earlier than I thought I would because of the surprising progress I had last night while starting on a little homework. I like to multi-task, especially while working out, so while I was running I tried to think about what I wanted to write for this upcoming paper. Maybe it was the endorphins, but for one of the few times in my life it was like I had an epiphany! Okay, I probably wouldn’t classify it as an epiphany, but it was exciting to actually be so productive while I was focusing on how many miles I had left before I was done.
I really figured out what I wanted to do when I thought about my history with writing – how it has developed through my education and what roles it has played. As soon as I got back to my apartment after running I started jotting down my ideas, almost in a map-like form (something I really never do, but ended up being really helpful!). In the center I wrote “how writing chose me” and all around I started brainstorming all the events that have come together that brought me to realizing the role of writing in my life. In one corner I wrote teachers names and in another corner I wrote about my childhood. In other places I wrote things like “career” or “future” with lines going to other places. I wrote a sentence about my faith and the role that plays in everything. There were circles and arrows all over, but I was excited to sit down and decipher it all into a coherent paper now that I knew what I was doing.
Now that I am beginning working on the paper again, I’m becoming a little more frustrated with it. The initial excitement of discovering what I want to write about is going away. Fitting together all the stories and ideas is becoming more difficult to do with words than it was with arrows and lines. I’m second guessing how certain events actually play a role in why I write. I keep thinking things like, “Maybe my eighth grade teacher telling me I was a good writer doesn’t really matter,” or “Maybe the creativity I used while drawing didn’t actually translate to anything about writing.” It all seemed to look a lot better in picture form than on the Word document opened on my laptop screen.
After publishing this blog, I’m going to have to find some new clarity on the topic. Writing is a process for me. I can’t just sit down and write an essay all in one night, so I guess I knew this was coming. My running inspiration didn’t last long, but hey, maybe I just found a new process that works for me.
So, I’m an insane person. It’s currently 5:07 AM on the Saturday of Halloweekend. I did not go out. I stayed in and watched Mean Girls with my roommate, drank coffee, and baked a few loaves of pumpkin bread. Clearly, I have a phenomenal social life. And it’s only going to get better once November 1st comes around. Why, you ask?
Because in November, as part of NaNoWriMo (or less awesomely, National Novel Writing Month), I will be attempting (keyword) to write my first novel. This decision seems ill advised, as it would appear I’m behind in all aspects of my life, academic or otherwise right now. The goal of NaNoWriMo is literally to write a rough draft of an entire novel over the thirty days of November. I kind of signed up expecting myself to crap out around day three or so, and to be honest, that’s still a very possible ending to this story. I didn’t even have an idea for a novel until about two hours ago. But now that I’ve got one, I’m pumped and won’t allow myself to sleep until I have at least three pages of story and ideas written in (digital) ink. I’ve got an idea I’m excited about in my mind, and if I’ve learned one thing about writing in the last few months, is that when I’m inspired, I have to write IMMEDIATELY after conceiving an idea. That’s kind of how this blog post came about. I was writing and brainstorming for the novel when I thought that this might work for my blog entry this week. And now, here I am, writing a blog post about how I thought to write a blog post about how I thought to write a novel.
Ideally, a NaNoWriMo participant aims to write 175 pages (50,000 words) before the month is over. I’ve never written any piece of fiction longer than sixteen pages, so I’m a little worried about how this could end up. Realistically, I don’t see myself meeting the goal set by whoever makes standards for NaNoWriMo, but I figure if I can contribute about three pages a day or so, I’ll end up with a good start that I can keep working on. After all, I am still a student, who has to do other things like homework and laundry to do. The realist in me says this could be totally detrimental to my school work, which is a valid concern, but the optimist in me likes to think writing regularly like this will actually help me preserve momentum in other projects. We’ll see which wins out.
Have you ever woken up on a Saturday morning and, after drinking eight cups of coffee, felt totally inspired to accomplish a project that has up until now been kind of awful and oppressive to your sanity (I might be hyperbolizing a bit)?
Totally just did that. And it feels awesome.
I have struggled and wrestled with how to make all the ideas I have for this paper work together to form a coherent, unified piece…and after weeks of failing, I think I’ve finally come up with a solution. For the first time in awhile, I’m excited to write this paper and, I might even venture to say I’m a little bit hopeful about how the whole thing will turn out. This is so much easier now that I actually know what I’m doing. I’m just hoping this isn’t some sort of fluke, because right now, I feel great.
Make no mistake, this paper is still going to be hard to get just right…but the hardest part seems like it’s out of the way. I’ve always had an idea of where I wanted to take this piece, but now the path to the end product is clear.