Repurposing for a Purpose

If there’s one thing I’ve stressed most throughout the course of this class, it has been the continual feeling of constraint I’ve felt with my prior writing assignments, and how I’ve always felt like there have been very limited ways for me to approach and interact with my actual writing.  When I first read the prompt for the repurposing assignment however, I was most excited about the chance to force myself to break out of my comfort zone, which up until now has been overwhelmingly constrained to a five paragraph argumentative essay format these past few years.  At first I wasn’t really sure at all of what paper I was going to rewrite, but then I remembered a short story I wrote my freshman year.  While my interests have drastically changed over the past few years, I have always been fan of westerns, and during my freshman year’s creative writing course I was given the task of writing a short story and ended up with a unfinished western story a little over 10 pages long.  While this is not only a great chance to revisit a piece I haven’t even looked at since turning it in, it’s also one that never really had a purpose in the first place.

Going into this project, the biggest difference in the piece will be the reason for writing it.  The first time around when I wrote the piece, it was literally solely for the purpose of getting the over the required 10 pages, with something I figured was halfway decent and could get me a satisfactory grade.  No thought was given to character or plot development, there was never any kind of underlying message in the piece, and in the end, it made for a very unremarkable and very forgettable piece.  I want to use this project to totally rethink the piece, and in the end, make it as enjoyable as I had intended in the first place.

Talking to my classmates helped me realize the wide range of reasons for writing a piece like this, and while I’m still trying to narrow down a meaning, message, or purpose for the piece other than being hopefully an entertaining and enjoyable read.  I think the one thing that helped me most with the idea of repurposing was that I’m very much the kind of person that would prefer to discuss their ideas and receive instant feedback on something, as opposed to written responses or anything.  Not that I don’t appreciate or enjoy peer editing, I just prefer face-to-face interactions.  Also, I’ve found that personal interaction helps me generate ideas that I might not necessarily think of while sitting down trying to write, since a lot of the time the best ideas I’ve had have been spur of the moment, almost a right place, right time, kind of thing.  The biggest thing I currently need help with moving forward is finding a specific audience and a specific reason to write.  This is a favorite genre of mine (Westerns) and I’m excited to finally be forced out of my comfort zone again with a piece unlike others I’ve had to write in the past.  While finding a message to try and relay might be a little hard at first, I think that given the nature of the assignment and the piece, once I get a message or reason for writing, I’m sure that it’ll end up being a fulfilling assignment, both from a writing perspective, but also to be able to look back and reread the piece later on in life.

4 thoughts to “Repurposing for a Purpose”

  1. Hi Max!

    Loved reading about your ideas and how they’ve evolved. The idea of going to your favorite genre to make writing something you enjoy rather than get done like ripping off a bandaid, is wonderful! I think a Western will be extremely interesting and a very creative repurposing. One thing that might be helpful in your proposal is to clarify exactly what you mean by doing a Western. All I can think of is the old Western movies in black and white. I’m uncertain how a Western looks in a short story form and would love more details on that, as well on exactly what your original piece was about. This sounds like an exciting and promising project though!

  2. Max,
    I thought this sounded like a really interesting idea when we talked about it in our small group! I think it has a lot of potential. I just read Christina’s comment and I am in the same boat as her: I don’t really know what defines a Western piece of writing. I think it would be cool if you could write a piece that can introduce those of us that aren’t familiar with it to the style/type of writing. I am really excited about the freedom in this project, too. It’s something we don’t get in many of our classes. Since it is your favorite genre, I bet you can come up with some pretty creative ideas. Good luck!

  3. Hey Max,

    I think it’s cool that you wrote a Western. I just watched “High Noon” not too long ago, and I think Westerns are pretty slick. I think there’s a lot you could do not having any boundaries or real restrictions. I think it’d be cool if you targeted a younger audience though, who maybe isn’t as familiar with the Western genre as those who grew up on the black and white classics. That being said, I think that the purpose should be geared towards a younger audience as well. It’s like you could make a hybrid genre or something going across the board. You have absolutely no restrictions, which is pretty neat. Good luck!

  4. Max,

    As a film major, I am well aware of the conventions that are attached to a Western. I think it’s cool that you’re choosing a story that interests you and trying to find deeper meaning in this story. If I were you, as a solution to the questions you’re getting on this post and as a solution in general, I would take a main component of what it is to be a Western–the need for the frontier, war against the wild, hyper-masculinity–and connect it to something in the modern day. Though the era of the old west lifestyle has long passed, I think there are some interesting concepts attached to that way of life that could serve as really great allegories, symbols, or calls to action for something that is taking place today. For instance, maybe you could write a Western about a group of cowboys trying to conquer nature to no success and implicitly relate it to us trying to advert anthropogenic climate change in the modern day. I mean, I don’t think that specific idea is great, but I was just giving an example.

    –Levi

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