Where to start?

As a business major, much of my class schedule is predetermined. This made deciding whether or not to join the writing minor, and add more requirements to my schedule, a difficult decision. When weighing my options, I decided to look deeper into the type of assignments I would be spending my time completing in the Gateway Course. When I first read the course description of working with one piece of writing for the majority of the semester, I was discouraged. There was nothing from my past academic writing that I wanted to play around with for an entire semester. It was not until I thought of all the writing I had done surrounding my travels to Ethiopia, that I was convinced to join the Minor in Writing Fall 2014 Cohort.
I am set on using my writing from Ethiopia for this project, as this is something I am passionate about and would like to dedicate more time to. However, I have yet to decide on the angle from which to approach my experiences in Ethiopia. I can start from my photo blog, Humans of Ethiopia, or I can start from my personal journal.
I like the idea of starting from my journal since this material is more raw and there are endless possibilities of the directions I could go with it. However, the journal has remained untouched since my travels and I am not sure that right now is the best time to tackle what is inside. I have been saving the journal for when I most need it, and I am not sure I am ready yet. The photo blog, while more developed, offers the appeal of being a public space and therefore a project that I would feel comfortable working on alongside my classmates and anyone else who finds themselves on the Minor in Writing Blog.
So I know where I want to end up – back in Ethiopia – which leaves me with the pressing question, where to start?
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Just A Glimpse

Nina Steinberg was born and raised in New York City. She is a passionate traveler and enjoys immersing herself in different cultures. She is the photographer and writer behind Humans of Ethiopia. She is a business major at the University of Michigan, is pursuing a minor in writing, and is involved in psychology research. She is addicted to gum, loves chocolate, coffee, dogs, pigs, and elephants. Camel in Jordan

Just Spitballin’ Here

I was scrolling through my past documents on my laptop, there are some real doozies in there—not in a good way. But I came across my application letter to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Program. I had forgotten what I wrote about, but as a was re-reading it, my inspiration returned to me. I had written about my grandfather. As a Journalism major, he is always telling me to learn how to write. He’s always telling me that writing is the most important skill you can have. He says that no matter how intelligent someone is, if he sounds like a fool in writing, he won’t be taken seriously. Now, I understand that my grandfather grew up in very different times. People don’t rely on writing as much as they used to, and engineers are in much higher demand than journalists. But I made a promise to my grandfather and I have every intention of keeping it.

For my project I plan to make an academic argumentation on the importance of writing. I want to emphasize the importance of teaching proper writing skills in grade school. I also want to argue that even in an increasingly technological society, being able to write is as necessary a skill as any. The skill transcends to being able to communicate clearly in any situation, and through any medium.

I don’t know what publication to gear my project towards. Cohorts, any ideas? T, I definitely plan to meet with you and just talk it out.

Thinking even further ahead, because my grandfather was my inspiration for both my Sweetland application and this upcoming project, I was thinking of writing a short fictional novella based on his life. Has anyone read Half-Broke Horses or Unbroken? Similar format to those books, but most definitely without the finesse of Jeannette Walls or Laura Hillenbrand. That’s just an idea though, not sure if I’m cut out to be writing on that scale just yet.

My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.
My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.

 

Established in 1993

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Colonia, Uruguay

Logan Hansen was born in Manistee, Michigan, a small rural town in the upper part of the state’s lower peninsula. His first published work – a short poem entitled Grasslands – appeared in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans when he was a fifth grade student at Manistee Catholic Central. Thereafter, he focused his efforts on numerous short stories of the creative fiction variety, of which he has amassed a healthy collection. A sampling of Hansen’s favorite words include “vivacious,” “indubitably,” “razzmatazz,” “perspicacity,” and “kumquat,” among many, many others. Currently, he attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he studies the intricacies of the psychological sciences, as well as the craft of writing. When not on the academic clock, Hansen spends his time in Northern Michigan, soaking up the sun along the beautiful shores of the greatest of the Great Lakes – Lake Michigan.

Caught Between Grandma and Football

When Project 2 for the gateway course was proposed, my thoughts did not immediately turn to any specific piece of writing I have done. I thought of previous papers and projects of mine that I thoroughly enjoyed – for example, my process analysis essay from senior year of high school in which I guide the reader through the steps of creating an essay that literally contains no content – but then considered that it might be more useful to turn to a piece of writing that I wasn’t particularly happy with. This got me thinking about other works I have produced, as well as scribblings and notes of mine that I have long been considering turning into something bigger.

That brings me to my first idea. For a long while now, I have been thinking about the possibility of writing a biography about my maternal grandmother. So far, all I have gathered in terms of research is a page of notes after talking with my grandma on a few occasions. She has a million stories – some, it seems, I have heard a proportionate amount of times – and I think I could paint a grand picture out of all of them to make something that would be special for her and the rest of my family. I’m not sure if this would work in the confines of this project, but T did mention a student who based their entire project off a sticky note that wasn’t even their own words. So it is definitely a possibility. I think, in the grander scheme of things, I could use the product of this semester’s projects to finally jump into a novel-length work on this topic. That idea is exciting.

A second option for Project 2 that I am considering is another one of my essays from senior year of high school. It was the first paper assignment of my English Composition class and the objective was to write a narrative – my favorite kind of writing. I wrote about my days of playing high school football, and of one game in particular that epitomized the whole experience in my mind. While I absolutely loved the subject I chose for the paper, I felt the final product was not exactly up to par. Reading over it again, there are parts that sound way too cliche and where the writing feels a little rigid. In the scope of the project, I feel there is an adequate amount of research I could do into my school’s football program as a whole, including my personal experience.

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My four best friends from high school and myself after our senior year Homecoming game.

Beyond those couple of things, I have just a few others in mind that are more or less outliers. One is a descriptive essay about my first car, one is a poem about lost love, and the other an unfinished poem with an as-of-yet ambiguous subject. I don’t think any of these will make the cut, though.

For the time being, I will let the two predominant ideas bounce around.

That’s So Catherine

cat soccerNow, this is a story all about how

Her life got flipped, turned upside down

And she’d like to take a minute

Just sit right there

She’ll tell you how she became the prince of a town called…Ann Arbor? Ha. She wishes.

Born on April 28th 1995, Catherine Louise Livingston grew up in Rye, NY with her mother, father and two brothers. She currently resides in Ann Arbor as a directionless student at The University of Michigan. She was named after Catherine of Wuthering Heights, but alas, has yet to find her Heathcliff *sigh*. A former 3 sport athlete, she now occasionally frequents the Central Campus Recreational Building when she can muster the willpower. Nothing brings her more joy than her two dogs, Duke and Blue. She cannot go longer than a month without shopping and her ultimate weakness is York peppermint patties. If she could live a day in the life of anyone it would be JLaw, hands down. *That’s So Raven voice* Yep, that’s me!!!!

Literally the Biggest Decision of My Life

Just the snippet of the chaotic "My Documents" folder. My personal favorite title: "thing for school"
Just a snippet of the chaotic “My Documents” folder. My personal favorite title: “thing for school”

Initially, I thought re-purposing was going to be easy. As an avid DIY crafter (with two over-used glue guns to prove it), I love re-inventing things that I don’t like. Since I’ve written a lot of things I don’t like, I thought this would be right up my alley. I sifted through the archival mess that is the “My Documents” folder and found a few that I thought I could use; but when I actually considered what to do with them, I got stuck. So here I am.

The first sample I’m considering is a research paper I wrote last year for Media Economics. The piece is a collection of six proposals to “protect the future of independent professional journalism.” The title sounds superhero-esque, but it’s really not that exciting. There are a lot of random terms and S-curves. So, if I go with this, I would find some way to make the topic interesting.

I’m also thinking about reworking another research paper, this time one I wrote for my English 225 class freshman year. Since the course was titled “Academic Argumentation,” we each chose a debatable topic to follow throughout the semester, continuously contributing to the final, 20-page research paper. I wrote about animal rights and, specifically, where ethics plays in when it comes to zoos. Since this is so long, I feel like there’s something I could do with it. I’m also pretty passionate about the topic, so that’s a plus.

Whichever way I choose to go, I know I want to make this project something meaningful to me and something that could be useful outside of class. Since I’m really interested in journalism, I’m leaning more toward the first idea. Still, on the other hand, animals are cute.

And so, the debate continues.

Decisions, Decisions

As T began explaining our next project, my mind began to wander. I have written endless amounts of papers and essays throughout my life, but what was I going to use for Project 2? Something that T said stood out in my mind, “Pick a piece about something you are passionate about and that you will be happy working with for the rest of the semester.” In my head I went through the list of papers I have written during my time at Michigan. Although I have liked a lot of pieces I have written and done well on them, nothing stuck out. It was then when I remembered the ice- breaker game we played on the first day of class. Someone had asked me what my favorite piece of writing I had ever wrote was, and I had responded: my college common application essay. I knew that I had to use it for Project 2.

I wrote my common application essay about how Rory Gilmore, the main character in the TV Show Gilmore Girls, has influenced my life, both personally and academically. I had not read the essay since the end of senior year, but it has always held a special spot in my heart. When I went back and re-read my essay, my decision about using it for Project 2 was reinforced.

In my essay I write about how I have grown up watching Gilmore Girls. Throughout my adolescences I connected to Rory, and she influenced me in many ways. I think that in my re-purposing and then re-mediatiation it will be interesting to explore all of the ways Rory has influenced me as well as focusing on how fictional characters have influenced other individuals. If I focused on Rory’s influence on me, I think I would create a BuzzFeed article about reasons why you should look up to Rory Gilmore. I was also thinking that I could ask students if they have ever been influenced by a fictional character and create something from all of their answers. I’m not quite sure the direction I want to take, but I do know that I want to use my Rory Gilmore essay!

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The iconic mother daughter pair: Rory and Lorelai Gilmore

Oh Hello There Hannah!

Hannah Gail Schiff grew up in the always sunny city of Los Angeles, CA. Since birth, Hannah has been brainwashed to attend U of M, as her entire family would sing, “Hail, Hail to Hannah Gail, the baby we adore.” Her conscious love of writing began when she created her own fashion blog in high school. Although she does not post on it anymore, she contributes to numerous fashion publications. Today, Hannah is a junior at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in writing. She splits her time between Ann Arbor and Los Angeles. Living in LA, Hannah has developed a strong love for great sushi and exceptional ice cream. Though most people don’t understand, Hannah hates cheese. The only exception to the rule is pizza- thank goodness because she is studying abroad in Florence next semester!  During Hannah’s free time you can find her cheering-on the Wolverines or watching an episode of Gilmore Girls for the 20th time.

 

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happy as can be holding an ice cream sandwich at a football tailgate

 

Brainstorming Project 2 ideas

Sometimes it baffles me how hard it is for writers to work with their own writing. I, for example, often have trouble editing my own work, and occasionally it takes me some time to figure out where I’m going with a particular piece.

It was also hard for me in this project to figure out ways to repurpose writing I’ve already done. But I have a few ideas:

1. I wrote a Michigan Daily story last February about gay athletes and how the environment has changed for them in college sports over the years. This issue, I think, has far-reaching consequences and implications in society; treatment of gay people has been one of the most widely discussed issues over the past decade. In this story, I wrote about several gay former college athletes–three at Michigan, one at Penn–and I referenced the story of Michael Sam, which unfolded around that time last winter. Since then, a lot more has happened on the issue: Sam has been drafted, cut and then resigned, and another player from Arizona State came out to his team before the season. This story could be modified to fit a variety of different themes.

2. I wrote another Daily story in August after the International Champions Cup match at Michigan Stadium between Real Madrid and Manchester United. That game brought all kinds of people with all kinds of different stories to Ann Arbor: fans of both teams, fans from different countries, people from around the U.S. who helped put on the event. Those stories could be told through a variety of different lenses, and I still have the audio files from the interviews, allowing for some sort of multimedia project.

3. I wrote a final English paper in April about the media and a variety of subjects relating to it: understanding biases, handling issues regarding race, sexuality and language, coverage depth and shaping norms. This paper also had a variety of examples pertaining to these subjects, everything from the Daily’s coverage of former kicker Brendan Gibbons’ expulsion, to Hurricane Katrina, to FOX and CNN’s political news coverage, to Sports Illustrated cover stories, to NBA vs. WNBA and ESPN.com vs. ESPNW.com. The issues involved in these situations are critical and can be evaluated in many different ways.