Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Here I am, knee-deep into the semester and there’s really no turning back now. If you told me freshman year that I’d be making a podcast before I graduated, I’d probably laugh in your face, with an eye roll and a, “yeah, right.” I’ve never been the type to fully push myself out of my comfort zone (and audio is nowhere near that realm).

But this is where we are.

My podcast will be an exploration of traveler’s guilt, inspired by my semester studying and living abroad in Barcelona. I’ll be having conversations with other students who had the privilege to study abroad to delve into issues like gentrification, overcrowding, overdependence on the tourism industry, the depletion of natural resources, and more.

But what better way for me to introduce you to my podcast than by sharing the trailer with you all! This is Not Your Mom’s Travel Guide.

Over the next month and a half, you’ll all be with me on this journey to see this idea through. I’ll be speaking with four guests about their time living in four drastically different countries: Australia, Italy, South Africa, and Spain.

Can’t wait for you to see where we’re going.

Blank Pages Are the Worst (And Yet, Pretty Exciting!)

Sitting down to write this blog post felt a lot like sitting down to work on my project: overwhelming confusion and frustration about where to start or how to phrase something or what even to write about at all, followed by a stream of words flowing almost mindlessly from my veins to the keyboard.

Followed, once again, by an overwhelming sense of writer’s block. đź™‚

But that’s ok. The good stuff comes from being patient. I definitely can’t call this blog post “the good stuff” (more like force-feeding the screen in front of me from what feels like an empty pantry), but I do believe that my project, at least, is getting some of that odd, trance-like magic.

When writing my last blog post, my project was still in the very early stages – having barely even been conceived of, much less fleshed-out. To use a metaphor, it was still that unformed ball of cells growing in the mother’s womb. But now it’s been a few weeks, and I actually think it’s got some limbs and a heartbeat! Exciting stuff!

So, like the technician doing the ultrasound, let me explain what you’re looking at:

I’m planning to write about five “memoir essays,” which can be thought of as a hybrid of memoirs and personal essays. In my five memoir essays, I will use creative nonfiction to tell stories from my own life (memoir), then give them a little spin toward the end so that the audience can walk away with something more than just a random story from some random person’s life (kind of personal-essay-ish).

While my goal is to write five stories, my workshop members advised me to write what feels right, without worrying about achieving an exact number of stories, so my plan may yet change and grow into something slightly different than the plan I am laying out now.

For instance, while I have already created outlines for five stories I might want to tell, I am significantly more passionate about three of them compared to the other two. As such, unless I come up with ideas for different stories to tell, I may need to adjust this aspect of my project.

For the three stories that I am passionate about, however, things are going pretty well! I have already drafted the first third of a story that explores grief and loss, and I’ve made attempts at starting two other stories – one that explores relationships/singleness and another that explores health/mortality/the unexpected.

I foresee a couple concerns with being as vulnerable as I want to be in my stories and with discerning if the story I am writing will have the same impact to someone who didn’t live it as I did, but that’s why I have mentors and classmates!

So, what’s next?

In the coming weeks, I plan to continue my research, meet with my mentor(s), and undergo a workshop to get feedback. I will also be writing a lot more (hopefully creating complete rough drafts of each of the stories I plan to tell) and thinking a lot more about what I want to write and how I want to communicate my ideas. Furthermore, I will need to explore and challenge my own sense of self to hopefully push beyond any hesitancies in vulnerability to create a collection of writings that are as honest and powerful as possible.

If all goes well, I won’t have many blank pages for long, and that provides at least some relief.

Wish me luck, and stay tuned for my next post!

It’s Been A Long (But Rewarding) Journey

When it comes to the genre and style I’ve adopted for my repurposing project, I’ve found myself creating several elongated thoughts, which could really use another look or two. Since I was in middle school, the comma has been at times both my best friend in writing, and my worst enemy in writing. As I look to mature my writing, and adapt new styles of writing while revising my repurposing project, I have strong hopes that I can work to strengthen my sentence structure and diction in the process.

Syntax has never come to mind for me while writing, I feel that this is the case because my previous teachers had not heavily covered the intricacies of grammar. My personal sentence organization has been either loved or unloved by my previous instructors as well, it comes down to whether the ideas I’m conveying make sense on their own, en route to also getting those thoughts down on paper. That being said, I work to place heavy personal emphasis on using a wide array of vocabulary within my essays. Although certain words in my works of writing feel as if they were lifted directly from the thesaurus, the truth is often that I’ll tend to sit there for minutes at a time, recollecting every which word that could possibly make a given sentence better.

I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in my writing, throughout the course of my continuing education at Michigan. The process in becoming an advanced writer is a long one, no doubt. And with the changes I’ve made in my own bag of tricks, hopefully one day I will make it there.

getting wix-y with it

site preview
The tentative top-half of my ePortfolio’s home page.

After presenting a Wix tutorial to the class on my ePortfolio, I feel pretty good about all the work I did last week to get me up to this point. Instead of procrastinating this assignment like I thought I would, I spent four hours last Thursday evening laying out as much as I could and then creating a useful Google Doc for everything else that needed to be written. It was my first time ever using Wix, and through experimenting with different plug-ins, widgets, and ways to present all of my work, have an ePortfolio I can really be proud of.

The coolest part for me about my “tech challenge” was that the class generally seemed to enjoy it and asked questions about how they could enhance/improve their own ePortfolios. While I didn’t have a pre-planned script to go off of, my impromptu tone allowed me to navigate through my portfolio and all of its pages through the eyes someone who has never seen it.

Now all that’s left is revision, revision, and more revision. As much as I love every written word on my portfolio now, I want to use the time until the due date to make sure everything is said in the most coherent and clear way possible. There are so many variations to choose from as far as how to present our work. Every decision must be made with extreme clarity and reason.

Overall, I think I accomplished my goal of using my choices to create a stylish, “final” product.

I’m looking forward to see my peers’ ePortfolios-in-progress soon. Hopefully my ePortfolio will give others inspiration to start theirs now and not the week before it due (or sooner). So much value is gained by starting a term project so early, including not panicking, creating quality work, and having the ability to go back and revise where necessary. The more we get done before the last day of class, the more we can help each other out through peer feedback and revisions.

Another component of my project that Shelley commented on that I need to be cautious of is the images I used that aren’t mind. I need to make sure they are fair use and not violating any copyright policies. I will go back and pray that the images I have up are fair use because I really like them a lot and they fit in with my vintage theme. Other than that hiccup, the other technical components of my ePortfolio are solid.

Content-wise, I also need to ensure that my annotated bibliographies are added to both the re-purposing and re-mediation pages. As this is a required component to the course I need to make sure I don’t forget to do it. I think the best way to represent them will be putting them at the end of the embedded documents so that users can just scroll down more and browse through them.

I’m super excited about having so much done already and look forward to really being done in a few short weeks.