Repurposing

Hi all- here are my thoughts:

Below are TWO ideas for the same original piece (because I’m indecisive, please help). Let me know if you think that one is more interesting than the other!

I wrote a creative nonfiction piece at the end of last semester called “The Sound of Silence”. It’s an investigative piece for which I remained silent for a day and documented my responses to this “lifestyle change”. I went on to reflect about it, and it wound up becoming a very spiritual essay. However, a lot of what I said became redundant. I’m sure this is because all of the ideas are coming from one perspective- mine. Therefore, I’d like to maintain this investigation of silence, but through different perspectives. A series of vignettes seems to be the best form for this. I’ve never written vignettes, so this will also be a nice exploration for me (get learnt!). I’d like the vignettes to be from the perspective of a variety of people in a variety of situations. They will be silent for different reasons- i.e. someone in solitary confinement, someone post-arguement at home with their partner, something broader like the silence of women, etc. These aren’t solid ideas, just examples. The point is- silence is a very universal notion that can elicit very individual responses (although it’s not really the norm). And by documenting only my own response, I feel that I’m not doing the topic any justice…

The second idea is to write a textbook description on silence that begins to take on a mind of its own. This explores the same idea- silence is universal and individual. So it would start of professional and slowly diverge into something less robotic.

I can’t wait to hear some critiques and ideas!

 

-Lauren W.

God, Shipyards, and Relevance

996817_10201122301727108_528540248_n(Author’s Note: Though typing this title already made me feel like half of Ann Arbor has arrows aimed at my head, I’ll dare to continue – but first, I’ll hand you this. If you don’t subscribe to my faith, know that this is then coming through a lens of bias. Still, I hope you can gain something, if only a perspective.)


Apart from God, there is shipwreck.

For context, there are two things worth noting:

  1. Until this fall, I had been single my entire life.
  2. Two years ago, I became a Christian and restructured my life around God.

Although Jesus calls me to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind (Luke 10:27), that turns out to be a bit difficult when everyone around you is suddenly getting engaged. A year ago – nineteen years old and still without a first kiss – I sat by as friends and family started relationships, popped questions, and flooded Facebook with a hundred gorgeous wedding pictures.

“Okay, God,” I would pray, first patiently and then less so, “what about me? Where’s my grand, romantic adventure? I’m tired of waiting.”

“Wait,” He would answer, and my patience would renew…

…until the next engagement hit Facebook.

This attitude peaked in November 201insta3, when I left a church team meeting with a visible cloud of bitterness around my head. (That week, the meeting had centered around the question, “For what do you need patience?”) Blinded by this haze of frustration and impatience, I sat down to journal.

I resurfaced two hours later to find that I had penned a multi-page extended metaphor that not only eased my bitterness, but restored my confidence and faith. Apparently the Holy Spirit is also a writer (John 16:13).

In summary, the piece is called “Shipyard”, and it tells of a young girl who grew up watching ships sail to distant lands. When she reaches womanhood, she begins to grow impatient and longs for an adventure of her own – that is, until an old, battered sailor warns her that a ship cannot be steered without a skillful captain. Without a leader at the helm, the ship is surely doomed for a rough voyage. In case the theme weren’t obviously enough, it story ends with the name of a perfect ship captain: “Emmanuel”, which translates to “God with us”.

It is important to know how God-centered my piece for re-purposing is. In class, when chatting with Kaitlin, I disregarded this and tried to brainstorm ways to make the piece secular. As it turns out, pulling a religious piece from its true nature ruins it. Kaitlin’s ideas and our discussion were wonderful, but I still quietly knew that they wouldn’t do.

I chose this piece because it holds a dear place in my heart, and I’m excited about re-purposing it for an audience that is not “my eyes, and my eyes only”. In its original form, “Shipyards” is an extended metaphor. This time around, I’ll be using more research (Biblical and otherwise) to transform it into an article aimed at teens and adolescents, Relevant Magazine style. I hope to take the original message – “be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14) – and present it directly instead of abstractly, using quotes and Scripture to strengthen the argument. “Shipyards” will be made into a piece that is both practical and uplifting for those upset with singleness.

My insecurities lie in the fact that this piece will have a very targeted audience. I can be hesitant to share my beliefs in a class setting, but I hope that my writing and discussions will not cause anyone to feel pressured. If this re-purposing comes out like I imagine, I will consider pitching it to Relevant Magazine, a more specific, Christian audience, in the future.

Above all else, I’m just plain excited and am ready to delight in this project. Let’s go!

Leadership

As I am sitting down trying to brainstorm more ideas to my re-purpose topic, I keep hitting a wall. I cannot stop thinking about how to approach my topic, leadership, like I did in my freshmen year english 125 class. I wrote an argumentative essay about what three qualities are needed for an effective leader. Now, (with the help from Sophie) I decided to approach my topic of leadership through writing for an sports magazine opinion editorial. That way, I can add in my own personal experiences of being on a division one college team along with my research aspect from my english class two years ago. I need to over come this wall of ‘writers block’ because I have to step out of my comfort zone (of writing argumentative/comm papers) and approach writing in my own unique way. Maybe my writer’s block is coming from me trying to start out with the introduction– I don’t have to start with my introduction, but that is what I am use to…. so its like C’MON EMILY, let’s move on (but that’s so easy, and why chose the easy side). As you read this post, I kid you not that I am telling you the dialogue I have with myself (plus or minus some swear words to myself as well)

Now, I am trying to use the qualities that I believe in and present this within my Op Ed with my own personal experiences. I am excited to tie in my experiences on my team with my leadership qualities and research. I do believe that it will help out and be easier to write my paper now with the narrow scope of sports. I am hoping that I can get my point across well, while gaining trust from  my audience of the readers believing in what I am sharing/telling.

One question I have is to how to engage my writers? I do not want to sound repetitive but I do want to “drill” in my thoughts and ideas. Do I include “all-star” leaders within the nation and how they display leadership if it ties into my three qualities? I started to causally look into different leaders in sports (like Michael Jordan, Derek Jetter, etc). Check it out here.

 

Why losing objectivity is fascinating but also overwhelming

For my re-purposing project, I’m attempting to transform an academic argumentative essay into a personal narrative. Last year, I wrote an essay outlining the rampant corruption throughout the banking industry. When I made an argument, such as ‘Bank needs to embrace more social responsibility’, I made sure to support it with compelling evidence. In this academic genre, I attempted to maintain objectivity by creating a universal argument that was independent of my personal experiences. Every argument was supposed with evidence, and every piece of evidence was discussed in depth. As a stereotypical ‘left-brain’ thinker, I am very comfortable with this genre.

I’ve recently begun the first draft of my personal narrative. This new piece will attempt to explore how my academic view on banking actually affects my personal behavior. Despite not really being interested in banking, I can’t stop myself from networking with banks in pursuit of potential summer internships. I’ve been asking myself the following question for weeks: ‘If I don’t like the banking culture, and I believe banks have demonstrated poor social responsibility in the past, why am I still setting up networking calls with people that work at banks?’ I legitimately have no idea what the exact answer to this question is. I know it involves a combination of pride, prestige, selfishness, and not wanting to turn down potential opportunities. But I can’t really explain my behavior completely, because there seems to be a divide between my personal beliefs and my pre-programmed desire to act in my best interest. Unlike the academic context, I don’t actually know all the answers to the questions I’m posing in the personal narrative. I think this is fine, as it would be naive to address subjective issues with complete objectivity. But it’s still uncomfortable to write, as I usually embrace objectivity in my writing. The goal of my piece is to provoke thought on the topic, and therefore I’m planning to ask more questions than I answer. By exploring my motivations, I’m hoping my audience will ask themselves the same questions and think more deeply on how their personal and professional ideals intersect. So I’m content with my planned style, but I still feel apprehensive to stray from the topic-evidence-discussion that has been drilled into my head from an early age.

Questions for my blog group:

  • Have you written more open-ended pieces before that didn’t grant the audience complete closure on the topic? How did you approach them?
  • Are there any personal narratives you’ve read that have really resonated with you? What helps you connect and empathize with the author?

Going A Little More In Depth

The re-purposing project is upon us. I will admit, I am pretty excited about it. The main reason is because it gives me a chance to go more in depth on a piece of writing that really does make me proud. It is a post from my personal sports blog that I have wanted to expand on for a long time. It’s called “The Curse of Little Brother” and it focuses on the recent history of the Michigan and Michigan State rivalry, and I always felt like it could be a much better article if I had more time and more planning.

What I am hoping to do with this article is something similar to an online article for a magazine. A good example of that would be some of the articles you see on Sports Illustrated  or ESPN. These types of articles have more personal tones and almost seem blog like. These types of articles also tend to have different types of multi-media added to them. In the Sports Illustrated article, there are videos, pictures and a couple of other pieces of media. In ESPN, the main thing you will tend to find in their articles are a lot of hyper-links to different sources of information. Either way, they are both using formats that are mainly unique for online article writing.

The only thing I do wonder is how to keep this paper from being too informational. I want this article to be more engaging to the casual sports fan, which means less statistical information than an article directed at a sports die hard. It should be relatively easy to do that, but that will probably have to come in the editing process because when I write the first draft, I know I probably won’t stop to think about it. Then again, as long as I tell the story I want to tell, I’m sure even the casual fans will enjoy it.

 

Doing what makes me scared

By far the greatest challenge I’m having/going to have with my repurposing project is working with a genre that I’m not familiar with. Reading short stories and writing them are very different things; I love reading them, but now I’ve challenged myself to writing one and it’s a whole new ball game.

Does anyone have some advice for a short story amateur?

My original idea was interesting to me: I was going to take a small idea from an essay I wrote last year about what my collection of books means about me and turn it into a short story. But after thinking it over some more and talking about it with my group members, I realized I may be starting with too abstract a concept.

So now I’m switching gears!

I’m going to keep the idea of the short story because frankly it scares me and I want to learn how to write creatively. The original source will now be an argument I wrote for the pros of digital communication – how we’re all relying much more heavily on text messaging and social media to communicate and how this might not be a terrible thing. I wrote about how text messaging is merely a supplement to verbal communication, not a replacement, and that we’re all more than capable of talking to each other like the good old days.

Right now the idea is that my short story will be a Brave New World-esque situation and a theme regarding how we’re allowing technological communication play too big a role.

Cell phone screen reading "74 new text messages have arrived."
Sometimes way too big a role. [Image from Flikr user Noel Hidalgo]

While I realize this is still a bit of an abstract idea, I feel like it’s more readily transferable into a short story, which makes me feel better about it.

Time to buckle down and get creative. Wish me luck.

It’s All About the Money…

For someone who loves to write and further, becomes deeply attached to the subject she writes about, handing in an essay is bitter sweet. I always feel relieved that the essay is off my plate, yet, I also often feel a twang of sadness when I realize that I am officially done analyzing, editing, perfecting a piece that I have I have poured my heart and soul into. The beauty of this repurposing project is that we are acknowledging the fact that we don’t have to, and shouldn’t, throw a topic into our mental garbage can when we turn in a paper.

 

The paper I chose to repurpose was one I truly enjoyed writing because it deals with an issue that is especially relevant to college students. Written for my English 225 class last semester, is title “A’s Over Honesty,” is a critical analysis of Robert Kolker’s article, cheating upwards, which centered on a major cheating scandal at an elite private high school. However, this article touches on deeper issues, such as the root causes of why people feel the need to cheat, and the immense amount of pressure our society places on success in the form of monetary gain.

 

I want to expand on these ideas in my repurposed project by creating a magazine editorial, potentially doing some sort of chronology of news events and pieces of media that have highlighted the consequences of our obsession with wealth, and further, being the “wealthiest.”

 

I chose the format of magazine editorial because it will allow me to incorporate photos and creatively design the layout of my pages. The main societal features I analyze; wealth, power, and fraud, all elicit vivid photos in peoples minds whether they are of CEOs or movie characters. Thus incorporating some type of collage of powerful images connected to these issues will draw readers in, encouraging them to read further.

 

I am wondering if my blog group thinks it would be appropriate/helpful to have some sort of personal narrative interweaved in what is a relatively formal critical analysis…

Unblocking the dam

I can’t say I’ve made much progress on my repurposing draft what with a million other things on my to do list this week, but this is the gist of what I’d like to do:

My mother, like many, has the annoying habit of saving artifacts from my and my brothers’ childhoods so we can look back on what we created and feel embarrassed more than anything else. Hidden away in my basement with many other childhood creations was a notebook of stories that my best friend, Allie, and I wrote when we were in elementary school. One, titled “The Best Day Ever,” (very original) became the inspiration for my repurposing project. I decided to develop the story and turn it into a storyboard for a children’s book. The idea of creating a storyboard, much less a children’s book, is incredibly daunting. I’ve never tried my hand at creative writing before.  My imagination has always seemed limited to me; the creative juices just don’t flow naturally. But I’m determined to break down the dam and create an entertaining piece of creative writing.

In “The Best Day Ever,” Allison and Christina live on the beach in Florida with their three dolphins. The dolphins live in an indoor/outdoor pool with a secret door that lets them swim inside when it rains. Christina and Allison have trained the dolphins and put on shows for the public. So what I now need to decide is what stays and what goes. And what needs to be added? How do I develop what I have into a real story? What should the plot be? I have made the not-so-difficult decision to cut out the page-long description of spaghetti dinner at my grandparents house, pictured below:

A page out of the notebook that describes dinner

And with the help of my blog group, I decided to add a villain in order to create conflict within the story. The villain will be much like the creepy clown in AirBud who tried to steal the golden retriever. My villain will try to steal the dolphins, and possibly succeed (to be determined). Still, there are other aspects of the plot that need to be developed. And real characters that need to be created. How do I construct characters in such a short and simple text like a children’s book?

 

 

Repurposing Project: what’s my new purpose?

For my repurposing project, I originally planned to take a family history piece I wrote for a sociology class freshman year and turn it into a podcast where I interviewed my family members. In my soc paper I talked about my grandpa and my mom and described how their ascribed characteristics as well as opportunities they faced contributed to their success on the socioeconomic ladder. However, after thinking about my project more I have decided to save the podcast for the remediation project since this will be a huge project to take on. I am now back to square one in terms of deciding how to transform my original work.

My original piece is very informative and organized. The format reminds me of a Prezi or powerpoint presentation, but written in paragraph form. Each paragraph contains a few facts about the people interviewed or the sociological factors that impacted their lives. These paragraphs would correspond nicely to individual slides in a presentation. I thought about actually creating a Prezi for my repurposing project, but the format would not change all that much (i.e. everything would still be listed in the same order as before). Instead, I might turn the piece into more of an opinionated personal narrative. Although the original piece is about my family and part of my own life, the tone is very formal and distant, and lacks any sort of personal voice. I think from here I just need to attempt a few drafts in different styles and see which one I like best.

My question is obviously how should I transform this piece? This might be difficult to answer unless you read my original piece, so I might have to wait until class on Tuesday for more answers.

Early Repurposing Project Progress

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my repurposing project, I am going to be revisiting an essay I wrote for my AP English class in highschool about my pre game ritual before hockey games. That ritual was an all day affair, starting from the moment I woke up, until only minutes before game time. For those who are unfamiliar, a brief list of common superstitions for hockey players can be found here. I want to repurpose my original essay into one or more newspaper/magazine article(s), that will include interviews with friends who have played hockey about their own pre game routines. I am also trying to exploit any connections I have with the hockey team here on campus to try and interview players about their rituals. If anyone has connections to the team that they would be willing to pass on I would certainly appreciate it.

The reason I decided to pick this piece was because of my interest in the sport. I’ve been playing ever since I could walk, albeit at a more casual level of competition now, and am a huge college(UofM) and NHL(Blackhawks) fan. Because my essay is all about my ritual, I thought that I could further the argument by expanding the discussion to include unifying and differing traits for hockey players as a whole. I also want to see if I can find rituals used by successful players and those used by less than successful players, maybe making a connection between success and particular rituals. A few famous players superstitions can be found here, but I want to find a more comprehensive list, if possible. A few questions I might ask you the reader include; What other outcomes/situations/variables in general could I relate to superstitions? Do you think I should write a few different, shorter, newspaper-like articles? Or one longer, magazine-like article? Are there sources of information other than player interviews that I could realistically hope to obtain?