Writing for Two: The Third Trimester

For the past 3 months I have been enrolled in Spanish 308, a 1-credit writing workshop that connects to any other approved Spanish course. The class has been relatively easy so far (as a 1-credit class should be), yet as I enter the last four weeks of the semester, I have entered the most difficult, laborious stage of the course.

 

I have to write the same essay for two teachers.

 

That is, my final essay for my other Spanish class will count for my grade in Spanish 308, so I must keep in mind the different styles and expectations of both teachers. As if writing an 8-page paper in a foreign language wasn’t hard enough!

 

Cue end-of-semester stress!

Writing Lists

When I get stressed out I write lists of what I have to do. I usually end up making multiple lists that all say the same thing, but for some reason the act of making the list calms me down.  It’s ironic though, because in writing list after list after list I am actually wasting more time that I could be doing something productive.

It may seem like common sense that acutely doing my work is more productive than making lists but I took me a while to realize this.  Last year I was home for the weekend and was doing homework.  My mom saw me making a list of things I had to do and told me that by making the list I was procrastinating.  Yes, this is rather obvious, but for some reason because I was writing things down that were related to school I did not think of it this way.

Even after my mom pointed out my list-making-procrastination, I still make my lists.  It might take me longer to actually do my work, but I get it done eventually.

The Voice Thread Experience – Talking Through The Creative Process

The entire process of transforming a work from a text medium to a video medium has, without a doubt, been both a stressful experience and a great learning experience. There are so many things that I would like to be able to do, yet I don’t know exactly how. This is especially frustrating, since I have big visions for my project and I can see already what I would like the final product to look like. The more difficult part is actually making it happen. Like many aspects of my life, I tend to dream big and sometimes I need to just take a step back and make sure that I have realistic goals for what I want my end product to be. The voice thread that I created will talk you through my creative process, but as of now, it only incorporates text. I have my photos that I want to use now, but I am in the process of adding them to iMovie. This is really where I am coming into some trouble.

MY VOICE THREAD:

http://voicethread.com/share/2491870/

I did, however, find that Voice Thread is an awesome tool. It is a great way to be able to explain to other people what you were trying to do with your work. When I add the photos in later today (hopefully someone in class can show me how to do it!), I will be able to produce another Voice Thread that better reflects what my end product is going to look like. I have my filming days set and I am confident that I will be able to produce something great, I just know it’s going to take a lot of work. But, that is what I find most appealing about this class. It challenges me.

(Sort of) Travelling Back in Time

This Thanksgiving  I went through all of my old elementary and middle school papers.  Seeing how my writing style changed was pretty strange.  In middle school I started to devel0p a very odd sense of humor.  It was self-consciously over-the-top.  For example, in response to a unit in seventh grade on why drugs are bad I wrote an exceedingly bad satire that involved a policeman cornering “drunk teens” with “inspirational posters of the kitten persuasion”.  Whatever that means.

I’m not really sure whether I should be impressed with my mother’s saving ability or depressed by the fact that I distinctly remember throwing many of those wildly inane satires away as soon as they were written.  Either way, I still want to know why I seemed obsessed with making fun of inspirational posters.  Because that part of younger me was headed in the right direction.

I can (kinda) edit videos.

Ok. So I just finished my PSA for the remediation project. I learned a few things in the process.  1) I am NO director. My cinematography is horrible, I do not have a steady hand,  and the images in my mind are much better than the scenes that I turn out. 2) Asking friends to act is much easier when they do not have to actually act. For instance, asking my roommate to think about and then eventually pretend to sext–not so convincing. Asking my guy friends to pretend that they just received some sort of inappropriate text and laugh about it together–pretty dang realistic. 3) Asking for help HELPS. I went to the tech desk in the UGLi. You know, the weird glass room, and the girls in there were really helpful! I was unsure how to even save the jpegs on the computer, let alone into iMovie, and they were there looking over my shoulder and ensuring that I was able to get my project done. Very thankful for that!

All in all, I guess this project was not as awful as I thought it would be. However, I am not saying that my work is necessarily pretty..

How to know what a professor wants.

Would they just tell us, please?

I understand that they cannot do the work for us. However, this semester in particular, it seems that I have a lot of classes that are giving students the “freedom” to pick writing topics, when in fact they know what they want and we just aren’t getting it. For instance, in my communications ethics in journalism class, my professor is asking that each of us come up with an ethics problem in journalism and report on it. The reporting needs to be a pro and con argument and our own personal opinion on the matter. Although this seems very straight forward, it is the coming up with the topic that is difficult. I have sent him multiple emails with some ideas, and he either sends back an “ok” or a “there is no pro argument to plagiarism.” Oh. Duh. Professor, you are so cute and I know you are really smart, but can you just give me a topic? I swear I will so it justice, but just LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!

“You will use cursive for the rest of your life”

And other lies they told us….

When we were younger, there were a variety of writing-related “rules” that were common in many, if not all, elementary schools. Most of them, we took up with great assault–whether or not we wanted to is a different story. However, as I was thinking earlier today, it seems that many of those silly little rules simply do not matter any more. Some of them are as follows:

1) You will write in cursive until you die. Not writing in cursive will result in a failing grade; until the end of time….. Now I don’t know about you guys, but if I wrote in cursive for one of my classes at the University (given that we are actually writing anything at all and not just emailing or submitting over ctools), I am almost positive that I would receive a zero. This is not because teachers dislike cursive (although I wouldn’t know; who ever asks professors’ opinions?), but rather, my cursive has become so unreadable that I dont think they would even have the patience to grade it.

2) The five paragraph rule holds true for anything you will ever write, ever. Ok. We have all written A LOT over the past couple years. We are also relatively good at it, enjoy it, think we have a future in writing, etc. That being said, just how many papers have you guys written in the past semester with the five paragraph form? A five-page essay simply will not fit into five paragraphs. Nor will it be a strong paper with only three arguments. As college writers, we develop a thesis, devote each paragraph to a topic, and don’t worry about how many paragraphs it takes.

3) Using I is bad. I am in a creative writing class where writing about I is KEY to a strong, reflective, yet meaningful piece. I am in a Communications course where our professor asks that we use I to signify when our beliefs begin and those of the other sources end. In our writing class, we had an assignment titles “WHY I WRITE.” No universal rule exists on using I. Different audiences and different disciplines have different expectations, so ask. I am assuming the old rule on’t always hold true.

 

Myths of childhood writing, DEBUNKED.

This isn’t exactly writing related…

Why are some people just mean?  I don’t understand why people who could say something constructive choose to say it in a way that demeans the other person.  And my mother’s reasoning for any problem of this sort (“They’re obviously just jealous of you, Jordan!”) doesn’t always apply.  For example, at work there is one supervisor (I will not name her, obviously) who is one of the meanest people that I have ever met.  She just yelled at me for something that could have been stated in a helpful way.  Yes, it was my fault.  No, she did not have to say it in a way that was so mean, I was left crying at the information desk where I work.  It feels so stupid to cry over someone who would never give you a second thought, but I couldn’t help it.  And I don’t mean that I was sobbing (how would that look to someone who was walking in the building) but tears just wouldn’t stop falling down my face.

One of my co-workers who saw the entire thing happen told me that I just got reamed out for no reason and that she must be having a bad day. But that isn’t it.  She is always like this and I think she has no idea how she comes off.  I hear her talk to customers in a gruff, almost condescending voice and I wonder if we ever lose business because of her.  I don’t understand how she came to work as a boss because she has absolutely zero customer service.

So I was sitting at the desk, seriously contemplating quitting, when I began to ask “why are some people just mean?”  I found a really interesting article (yes, it’s from Oprah’s website..) that makes me feel just a little bit of compassion for people who seem to be out to get the world.  Here’s the link to the article: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Martha-Beck-Why-People-Are-Mean
Though it does make me feel a little bit bad for her (if she really is as hurt as the article would make her seem), it still does not give her an excuse to make others feel bad.  But another thing that I must accept is that, even if she never changes, I need to.  I can’t curl up into a tiny ball and shut out the world whenever something bad happens to me.  I need to realize that other people are going to do things or say things that aren’t always nice and I need to have the confidence to know that because they might be mean to me, doesn’t mean they hate me.  I am going to have to deal with this supervisor Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the rest of the semester, I have to cope somehow.

“Paper Must Be This Long (Or Short)”

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oox2FOPWyi0/TazEeKsJu0I/AAAAAAAAAA8/E6cfXR-E12U/s1600/stress.jpg

Why do professors make page limits?  It’s very annoying and distracts me from focusing on the content of my papers. Instead of trying to get my thoughts out, I worry about the length of my papers. The papers that need to be x pages long always turn out too short or too long. Right now I’m working on a paper for my communications ethics issues in journalism class and am struggling to make it fit the minimum page requirement. I started working on the paper about a week ago and it isn’t due till next Monday. I thought I was doing oh so well and would have the paper finished way ahead of time, but here I am trying to add in more (unnecessary) info and restate every other sentence just to stretch it out from 6 to 7 pages. I understand that certain information must be included, but if I can say what I need to say in 6 pages, why should I force myself to write a whole other page? I have more important things to do than spend a whole week trying to make my paper fit the page requirements when I’ve already spent so long on it. Do you agree with me? What do you think about page limits/requirements?

Behind the Times

It seems like everyone on the planet has read The Hunger Games trilogy, and though relatively late compared to the rest of the world, I have decided to jump on that bandwagon.  I ordered the first book on my Kindle to read during the 10 hour car ride to North Carolina, our Thanksgiving destination.   I’m not going to lie, the book was captivating.  I really enjoyed the unique storyline and became extremely attached to the characters.  Before the car trip was over, I had finished the first book and was begging my mom to stop at Panera so that I could use the Wifi to download the second one.  Though at first I unhappy about being forced to wait (“once we get to your uncle’s house, you can use the internet!”), I am thankful that I had a chance to think about what I had just read.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/ab/Hunger_games.jpg/200px-Hunger_games.jpg

What makes a book interesting to the reader?  Why are some books extremely well-written but also extremely boring?  Are the best books ones that are action-packed?  All of these questions were swarming my mind while I shut my eyes and tried to nap away the rest of the roadtrip.

I think that sometimes a book can get away with mediocre writing if the idea behind the story is really captivating.  On the other side of the coin, many people enjoy reading books with lots of beautiful prose and less of an intriguing story.  Maybe it depends on the personality of the reader.

Personally, I enjoy a great story.  When I read not only do I connect with the characters, I feel what they are feeling.  I find myself smiling when things are going well for Katniss during the Games and I cry with her when she loses a fellow player who she has become close with.  Though I must admit, the writing and editing could be improved (finding three typos in the first book is never a good sign), I count this book as a success.  When I am doing something else, I think about how certain things relate to the book and how I want to continue reading.  I talk about the story constantly (my mother will never have to read these books because I have reiterated the entire story to her) and that in it of itself makes the book a success.

On a side note, I appreciate a story that is geared for young adults that manages to avoid a sex scene and swearing throughout the entire book.  It is a rare occurrence and that definitely made an impact on me as well.