Hola Capstone compadres, my name is Logan Hansen and I have a writing addiction. The only issue is that I find it hard to focus and zone in on one project at a time. It seems inspiration comes at me from various places and my enthusiasm for different pieces flares up and fizzles out sporadically. That is why I am excited to be wrapping up the Minor in Writing this semester: I’ll be forced to undertake a lengthy project and stick with it, come hell or high water.
A few ditties about me before we jump into the next part:
—I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
—Despite that first bullet, I am not a fan of Taylor Swift
—I am, however, a fan of Blink-182, and late ’90s to early ’00s rock and alternative
—I played football for the smallest high school to field an eleven-man team in the state of Michigan (from 2008-’11, that is)
—I started writing (poorly written) short stories when I was seven years old, including my own episode of “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”
I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a handful of writing communities in the past few years. The two I’d like to mention are my time in Elizabeth Hutton’s English 223: Creative Writing course and my editorial internship with the Manistee News Advocate. Both took place during 2015, separated only by a three-week jaunt over to China for study abroad in May.
I took Lizzie’s Creative Writing class, which focused around poetry and short fiction, during the Winter 2015 semester. Fiction is the kind of writing I enjoy most, so I went into the class with high hopes — and I was not disappointed. The final portfolio project I ended up putting together with the help of Lizzie and my peer revisers is something I am particularly proud of; though the pieces contained therein — two poems and two short stories — are ones I plan to continue reworking and revising.
English 223 was a chance for me to work on character development and other areas of my fiction writing that I did not realize were weaknesses, such as my reliance on vague language and inconsistency in voice. When writing poems and stories, you have to think about all those classic elements — plot, characterization, setting, voice, rising action, climax, falling action, etc. Of course, examining my classmates’ writing was another component of the course that augmented my own learning about the craft.
In an altogether different arena, my time at the Manistee News Advocate saw me writing within the confines of reality. I wrote mainly news articles, but did contribute a handful of opinion columns, as well. With that position, there were interviews to be conducted and transcribed, fact-finding missions, grammar in as proper a form as was possible, and length restrictions (though I did get away with an extra long article when my regular editor was on vacation). Like the Creative Writing class, it was fun, but in a different way. There was certainly more of a professional sense about it, inasmuch as a high degree of accuracy and candidness was required.
If we’re getting down to brass tacks here, one major similarity between these two writing communities was that a certain amount of backstory was necessary for the pieces to make sense. For the poems and short fiction, these backstories were no doubt fabricated, but nonetheless present; for the newspaper, the backstory (or background information) was necessary scaffolding to set up or realize the point of the article.
And if that doesn’t seem deep enough, perhaps another similarity is in order. So here goes: though the two communities had very different audiences (college students and a writing professor for the Creative Writing course; mostly individuals over the age of 50 for the newspaper), I was still able to infuse bits of personality and voice in each. In the former, this voice appeared in various versions through different characters — but if we are to believe that every character a writer creates carries some small piece of him or her (and I do believe that), then my voice was certainly coming through. In the latter, my voice appeared in discreet ways, as well, such as a quirky headline or the infusion of uncommon vocabulary (e.g. an article previewing a festival known as “Arcadia Daze” was titled “Dazed and fun-infused” (so witty, I know)).
As for a major difference, I have basically mentioned a couple already in talking about similarities (funny how things are entangled like that). One of those was the different audiences I was writing for: a group made up mostly of my contemporaries and the other made up mostly of people of an older generation. With the former, I was allowed to be a little more “out there,” as one might say, whereas with the latter, I could not necessarily get too crazy. Of course, that had to do with the modes of writing, as well. Another large difference was the “narration” of the different kinds of writing. In Lizzie’s class, I had free reign to decide about first-, second-, or third-person; with the newspaper, everything (except my first-person columns) had to be written in a third-person, objective point of view.
Both communities improved my writing abilities, but in different domains. And now I shall cease to continue this blog entry, because you’ve probably given up on reading all of it by now anyway.