A Whole New World

I’m a Disney fanatic. So when thinking about how my thoughts on blogging have changed throughout this semester, Aladdin popped into my head and now I have the song “A Whole New World” stuck in my head. I’m hoping you’ve all seen Aladdin, but if not, just try to roll with me on this one…

Magic Carpet Ride

In the beginning, I completely wrote it off. When I found out about the blog I was so annoyed and all I thought was that blogging is not for me. Just like Jasmine completely wrote off Prince Ali as just another pompous, pretty boy, I felt like blogging would never capture my attention.

After my first post, I became slightly obsessed with finding little things that made me not want to do it so that I could fuel my hate fire. I thought, “this is stupid because I can’t insert videos.” Or, “nobody is really reading this so why does it matter?” Everything I wrote followed a certain prescriptive style that I had invented to get through each post. Just like Jasmine obsessed over getting Prince Ali out of the palace, I kept looking for a way out.

But just in the midst of my obsession, I saw something in blogging that reflected a joy I had once known. Blogging reminded me of the journals I had kept in middle school that contained free writes and poetry that simply filled my life with something new and adventurous that I hadn’t had before. [Here’s that magical moment] “Is it safe?” “Sure! Do you trust me?” And then Jasmine realizes she’s met Prince Ali before as Aladdin and it clicks and she grabs his hand and the carpet takes off.

And now it’s all been “a dazzling place I never knew” since then. I really enjoy the blog and what’s more is I really enjoy reading other people’s posts more than anything. I think this new way of keeping up with each other is one of the great things that has come with this generation of technological rhetoric. I think my style has stayed very similar, reflecting the emotional and personal touches that I loved about my middle school days, but with an added depth.

Since the song is now stuck in your head as well, here’s the link to the YouTube video. You’re welcome.

 

Revision: A Necessary Evil

I’ve never liked revising my work. When I spend a long time on a paper and turn it in thinking it’s perfect, I don’t like somebody telling me all the things I could improve. This is especially true when there is no incentive for revision, like a better grade. I always think, “Why cause myself stress about what I’ve done wrong, when nothing good will come out of changing it?”

But then I think about my experiences at my high school newspaper. When I started sophomore year I was given no training on writing news articles. I would spend days writing one short article, get it back covered in purple pen marks, revise it, turn it in, get it back, revise it, again and again and again. I would re-write every article at least 4 or 5 times. It was exhausting. But by my senior year, I hardly needed to make any changes. I had come a long way, and had learned a lot about writing journalistically.

I notice the same things in Writing 220. With each draft my writing improves and my argument strengthens. Revision was especially important with the Why I Write paper. I spent a long time on my first draft and did not want to make any changes. I thought “revision” would mean writing the whole paper over again. But, my peer group was able to show me where my writing was not clear, where I had made connections between points in my life they did not have enough information to understand. In the second draft, I knew to provide more details and explanations so the reader did not have to guess the significance of each point.

What I’m trying to say is, I have a love/hate relationship with revision. Though I don’t like my hard work being criticized and critiqued, paying attention to my teachers, my peers, and my readers is the best way I’ve found to improve my writing.

Thoughts on Revision

So this week I was a little confused and turned in a revision of my Re-Purposing paper, instead of the Why I Write revision that was due.  Luckily I’ll still be able to make revisions once the comments for that paper are returned, but I actually thought it was interesting what I found while revising my paper last weekend.

What I actually did for this paper was set it aside for a long time (I really hadn’t looked at it in depth since I turned it in) and then came back to it in order to do revisions.  Now, I’m sure this is actually what many of you do for papers, especially since I remember my teachers since high school explaining what we should use this strategy to gain a fresh perspective on our own papers.  However, I can honestly say that I’ve never done something like this.  I always rush to revise and feel like it’s better to get everything done at once — which really isn’t that helpful the more I think about it.  After going back last weekend and reading through the paper again, I found myself agreeing with some comments and having a clear enough mind to answer some of my questions that I had.  I also found myself being a little to critical I felt at times, with different features like tone sounding good to me after some time away from the piece.  I really couldn’t believe how much clearer my mind felt after not thinking about the essay for about a month!

I am really this late to the game?  Is this a strategy that mostly everyone uses?  I can’t believe that as a junior in college I am just now figuring out that this can be a really helpful tool for revision!  I hope that in the future I can continue to keep this up and practice this skill in different ways with papers and assignments… it was a really interesting thing to learn as I revised this paper!

ePortfolios, Finals, and Beaches

Finals. Isn’t it funny how the word “sin” is in there if you move around some letters and ignore most of the other ones?

Reflecting back, this semester has really come full circle. Welcome Week I got a lot of headaches and they are all starting to come back (maybe for different reasons).

Another shining example of the finale of this semester is my ePortfolio. Rereading all of my work from Writing 220 has been interesting. Writing as a process has become so evident in all of my proposals, outlines, and drafts. My ideas have wandered further than my expectations for any Michigan athletic team this year, and the journey is truly amazing (in regards to writing not sports.)

The theme of my ePortfolio, Life is a Beach. Bitch, I meant Bitch, accurately encompasses each of my pieces for this course. My Why I Write incorporates my tweets of the past, most of which describe unfortunate situations that were not funny at the time, but are hilarious to look back on. My Remediation is a satirical newspaper that criticizes ridiculous things people do at the University of Michigan. Finally, my Repurposing project, in collaboration with Beixi, includes strangers’ reflections on past mistakes. Each piece uniquely intertwines some reason for why life sometimes sucks. However, they also stress the importance of not taking life too seriously and allowing yourself to take humor out of every situation.

Feel free to check out the progress of my ePortfolio here.

And try not to stress out too much this holiday, I mean finals, season. Make life your beach!

Re-Mediation Countdown

This re-mediation project has taken me to so many new places and has fostered so many new ideas for me. In making this video, I not only had to learn new technologies, but also think in a new creative way about a topic that lots of people probably know about, but don’t necessarily always think about. Body image and sexuality are things that are definitely prominent in our culture, but to think critically about what they mean for college students and the impact our society has on women is something that requires an interactive discussion. That’s how I ended up at the video and through this vision I had on day one, I wanted to hold an event that women on campus could come and be a part of this project. I can’t tell this story or create a message on my own. I needed outside perspectives. So I camped out on the Diag for a few hours on Saturday with some signs, chalk, and my video camera to capture the passerby viewpoint. It went pretty well and I got some people with great feedback on the issues. It was very enlightening to get that outside perspective; however, now I’m feeling the pressure to work on the video, because I’m feeling like it needs a new direction. We’ll see how it goes.

So as this project is quickly wrapping up, I’d like to take a second to reflect on the experience.

  • ISS is very serious about their equipment, which I cannot blame them. But seriously, do turn their cameras back in on time. 
  • iMovie is pretty awesome, but also pretty involved. You should get familiar with it before you dive right in to a project.
  • Your peers are your best resource. Special shout-out to Patrick Beger for helping me with tons of the aspects of my video.
  • Perspectives of a variety of people can really change your entire way of thinking and it’s so important to see the issue at every possible angle before you can get it right.

Here’s a few pictures from the Diag event last Saturday.

P1000553
Chalk Outlines. They were meant to represent how different each woman is. However, with bulky coats and sweaters, everyone ended up looking about the same.

 

The only man who came over to ask me what I was doing. I'm excited to put his perspective into the video.
The only male who came over to ask me what I was doing. I’m excited to put his perspective into the video.

The Cape

When we were asked to choose a topic that we were passionate about, one place came to mind, Cape Cod. It is my favorite place in the world and if you are wondering why, you can explore my ePortfolio.

My ePortfolio is not about “why I LOVE Cape Cod.” However, I found that when your passionate about something, it shines through your writing. I did not have intentions of gett as personal as I did with the Gateway project of re-purposing and re-mediating. There were even times when I avoided getting personal, and would sacrifice the quality of my writing to maintain privacy. In the past I have been able to get away with this, not fully exposing myself through my writing. But the writing process, that was so strongly emphasized in this class, did not allow me to keep up the walls. It was like each piece came after me with a different weapon: my original piece with paper, re-purposing: scissors, re-mediation: rocks, and then the two “re” pieces came at me all at once with giant boulders, demolishing every wall.

The gateway course has helped me discover who I am as a writer. And even though I am still at an early stage in this discovery process, the most improvement I have made yet was influenced by this class. (See, everything in life is a process!). I am excited to approach writing with new techniques. My strongest newly learned technique is sharing who I am through my writing.

New Media Writing

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.

 

Learning About Simple Things in a Complex Way

Right now, I don’t want to learn about simple things in a complex way, and most people don’t, as the reading, “The Big Picture” decided. I  think that there is merit in hiding simple ideas in complex thought, however, I also think I am lazy and have to do other things like think about complex ideas in an oversimplified way (Physiology 201).

Do you think that there is value in obstructing simple concepts? I think so. Take “Street Haunting” by Virginia Woolf. Her prose is complex, marbled with description and difficult language, and the events are so strange that the reader is not really sure if and when they are happening. In analyzing the beautiful prose and the construction of the story, a reader can find simple concepts. Cheezy as it is, someone could effectively argue, “it’s about the journey” or “experiences are better than material possessions,” etc. But if Virginia Woolf just wrote those things on a poster and attached a sunrise or other picture that always seems to be on inspirational posters, her work would no longer be beautiful (in my opinion). The beauty of her work, I think, is the covering up of simple concepts with beautiful language and a story, and making the concepts available to the reader only if they wish to see them.

I admire and enjoy simple concepts explained well in complicated ways, but I don’t want to have to see any of that sort of writing right now.

Thoughts?

Writing for a Teacher

My friend asked me what it feels like to be a week away from completing half of my college career. I promptly told him to stop speaking to me. I know that there are a few juniors(soon to be seniors) that are probably rolling their eyes reading this… but I bet you were thinking the same thing at the end of your sophomore year. It is crazy to think about how fast college is flying by, and so I think this post about reflection is somewhat appropriate.

This past year I was a member of Ann Arbor Languages Program. I went into three different 3rd grade classrooms and taught Spanish for 30 mins every Tuesday and Thursday. The program was demanding, stressful, sleep depriving, and infuriatingly time consuming.It left me exhausted.

How I felt after teaching
How I felt after teaching

Yet I would do it all again. I am certain now that I would never want to be an elementary school teacher, and if nothing else, I gained that from the whole experience.

I know this post is supposed to be reflecting on writing, and in a way, this experience for me was all about writing. I had to write up a lesson for every day that I taught. 44 different lesson scripts. Each one different from the next. These scripts were not just bullets listing the events. I had to dig deep and describe what I was going to do and why it was important that I do so. Here is an excerpt from one such lesson:

Ropa/Color Worksheets 10 min – end

-These worksheets are going to be done in groups – I have chosen to use six characters because every class has six different table groups and so every group will be able to work on a different person—-i will have my own person that I will model before I pass out the worksheet emphasizing again that there needs to be ropa y color so when I am demonstrating I say zapatos NEGROS———making sure to stress the color part of the answer——–then I will pass out the papers, since there will only be six it would take more time to call up a volunteer————-keep repeating “en groupos – en groupos” – so they know to work in groups ——there will be a slide now with all the colors and all the names of the clothing types, because the students usually know the word they want but they get frustrated when they cant spell it——–also when I am walking around I can help the students out by pointing at the slides——  -when I see that they re done I will call up the students by groups and ask them to share ———this may be a little hard for some of the shy students so I will allow one person to speak for the group, because I realize that not everyone is comfortable speaking up front———-the point is to have the group be involved and so its four kids sharing instead of one raising their hand

 

And that is just one ten minute segment of a lesson. Sure, this was one of my more in-depth scripts, but I think I get my point across. I learned a lot about how to think for other people’s needs. This can directly relate to my writing. I need to be aware of my audience and address their needs. Not to mention that I was doing a good deal of writing almost every night. The content is not exactly riveting or inspirational to read, but I can honestly say that I was writing. This is something that I am guilty of not always doing. Just sitting down and writing was very revealing after awhile. I did eventually expand to more than just “the colors.” I was able to write some stories not pertaining to the classroom and I just carried on with what had already been set in motion. So while there may have been a lot of pieces I was assigned to complete, the constant time spent in front of a keyboard actually became very beneficial for me.

Reflection

This semester was not my favorite in terms of what I wrote. I am finishing up some distribution requirements, so I had a couple 100 level classes that didn’t have any writing at all, and I am not super proud of what I did end up writing for my two other classes. My capacity for procrastination actually got worse; I’ve never put anything off as long as I did with a couple papers this year. The longest paper I have ever written, 12 pages on sex positive education, was possibly the biggest train wreck. By the end of the weekend that I spent writing it, I was too burned out to edit it thoroughly.

It isn’t that my writing has gotten worse, at least I don’t think so. But writing papers has taken on this route feeling, like I’ve done this before a thousand times and will do the exact same thing a thousand more. The middle of the night grind is not particularly inspiring. This is, of course, partially my fault for waiting until the last minute when everything that can possibly be produced is the essay equivalent of cafeteria food- there is a lot of it, and it looks okay, but it all sort of tastes like potatoes.

Sigh.

So anyway, I’m taking an English class next semester to get out of this funk because that usually helps (see my earlier post). Any of you feel that way about papers sometimes?