Indecisiveness and ePortfolio “Other Writing”

For someone who is usually so scatterbrained when it comes to making writing decisions, I’ve been surprisingly focused when it comes to designing my ePortfolio. With the timeliness of my beginning to apply to internships to this summer, the idea of having a synthesized, digital timeline of my writing development to present to potential employers has been particularly motivating.

With that said, I have had a general idea of the “other writing” I want to include in my ePortfolio. Optimally, I’d like to incorporate my personal food/restaurant blog, some kind of sample from my internship at Food Network Magazine this summer, and my Writing Minor Blog. However, I haven’t determined which portions of those writings and in which way I want to include. I would love some suggestions!

For my food blog, I’m toying with the idea of linking to one of my favorite/most impressive posts, and from there my readers can explore the rest of the blog. Do you guys think that will be a thorough enough representation of my blog?

I’m most indecisive about which professional writing samples to include. Some of the samples that do not necessarily display the most creativity utilized a lot of sales related skills. A lot of the examples are pitch presentations, restaurant guides, or data compilations rather than creative writing. Do you guys think those kinds of examples would be valuable to include as well?

I just wish we could go back and play around with Wix templates more! But I know the final product will be something I’m really proud of.

Warning: NSFS (Not Safe For Scrooges)

OH MY GOSH IT IS HERE

I posted about this last year, but I am in love with the Christmas season. It is my favorite time of year, and with Thanksgiving falling late and Christmas coming in less than four weeks, I have even less time to decorate, bake cookies, buy presents, etc.

 

I am the Leslie Knope of Christmas season and I’m not even mad about it

I would like to be able to write about family traditions such as specific movies we watch or cookies we make, but I literally force my family to participate in every Christmas activity every year (sorry Chip, thanks for being a trooper). My dog has a gingerbread man costume. I am that person when it comes to Christmas.

Buddy the Elf has nothing on my Christmas activity bucket list

 

Oh Writing…

Writing is hard.

Even as a 20 year old, writing minor, I still contest that writing is hard. Getting those first few words out on the paper is always a challenge. And honestly, I think that this will continue to be the case even as I mature as a writer. However, the fact that writing is a challenge makes writing better. Every time I write I am forced to go out of my comfort zone and produce something I am proud of.

Writing requires thought.

Even if I am mindlessly writing, it still requires thinking. That is one of the aspects I love most about writing. It requires me to think, and dig deeper about each thought I have. Putting thoughts down in writing are permanent. They are physical, no longer just thoughts bouncing around in one’s mind.

Writing has the ability to heal.

I am not one to be preachy, but I do think that writing has the power to heal. I find writing to be a form of therapy. When I am upset, or overwhelmed, I will write. Whether or not I write about what is bothering me, or something completely different, I almost always feel relieved after I am done. Even if it is something as simple as writing a to-do list, writing does have the ability to heal.

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Writing is powerful.

Well Thank Goodness for Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving break. Cheers to that.

Guess who just found her O.C. DVDs in one of the 15 boxes I’ve unpacked today? This girl!

I feel like since the beginning of October I have been looking forward to this day. After an incredibly long fall filled with losses (both personal and football related), my family’s move to a new state, three (!) upper level writing requirements, and the return of the dreaded snow, it’s time for a little hiccup in time when the calories don’t count and I don’t have to do work (ha ha jokes, I still have to do so much work, but at least my mom is doing my laundry for me?)

 

I got a massage yesterday, during which I am pretty sure I looked like this.

For all of my fellow Capstoners, here’s to being Back Home Ballers for these next few days before the return to campus and the mad dash to the end of the semester!

What Makes a Writer?

Ever since beginning the Minor in Writing I’ve suddenly become a writer. It’s not that I never considered myself to be a writer before, it’s more the fact that I never thought to categorize myself in that way. All of this casual use of the title “writer” got me thinking about what truly makes someone a writer. And like any logical person, I decided to Google the definition.

And the wonderful world of the Internet gave me three definitions. That’s helpful. Not.

Writer Definition
You’ve gotta love ambiguity sometimes.

“A person who has written a particular text”

So this pretty much means that every time my mom writes a grocery list, she is a writer. Although I like that this definition is very broad and therefore very inclusive, I can’t help but still think that declaring oneself as a writer means you have a greater purpose than just “writing a text.”

“A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation”

I’m not a huge fan of this definition either. Who says we need to get paid in order to be writers? Or that I need to write on a regular basis–as far as I know there isn’t quota I need to meet in order to be a writer. And there is definitely more to write than just books, stories and articles.

“A person who writes in a specified way”

I happen to love this definition of a writer. Yes, a writer is pretty much just someone who writes. But to me, being a writer means everything I write is with a purpose. Whether it is my word choice, tone, or organization, my writing is just that: mine. Every decision I make will alter the final product, and writing gives me the ultimate freedom to say what I want, in the way that I want.

Bravo, Google.

Writing: Reality Check

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenniferschaffer/being-a-writer-on-screen-vs-being-a-writer-in-reality

This may be more of a comment on the ridiculousness of telvesion than a comment on the ridiculousness of writing, but nonetheless, my bold statement about writing is based on the Buzzfeed article linked above.

Late night writing is not Carrie Bradshaw sitting in her glamorous New York City apartment, cuddled up in her glamorous shawl, calmly typing away on her computer.

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Late night writing looks a lot more like this shirtless, frustrated, anti-glamorous man.

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And writer’s block is not cured by a moment of thought and reflection in a quiet, peaceful room…

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Only a box of Cheez-its, coco puffs, or Pringles can cure this sort of obstacle

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So make sure you actually love to write before you decide to be a writer. You may lose some of your glamour and gain a pound or two, but if you love it, it’s worth it.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Writing

Because this post is devoted to “bold proclamations about writing,” I thought I’d dedicate this time to come out and put something out there that I’ve been keeping in for a while, because I just think I need to share for closure if nothing else. Here it goes:

I SERIOUSLY HATE WRITING SOMETIMES.

There. I said it.

Among our wonderful cohort of Writing Minors, we talk a lot about why we love writing: how writing is freeing / enjoyable / the best thing ever Which, don’t get me wrong, it totally is…sometimes. But the conditions have to be right.

When it’s 4 am and my paper is due in five hours and I’ve crawled my way to page 3/12 (double spaced), the conditions aren’t right. At these points, I kind of hate writing. It’s usually at these points that I can never come up with the right word, the right phrase, the right topic. Just last Saturday, I spent five hours in the grand palace known as the UgLi, searching far and wide for a term paper topic. With every Google search, I became more and more fed up with this stage in the writing process; I always think the topic has to be perfect before getting started, which (as you can guess) tends to limit my options some.

Continuing on with this venting session, I could also do without papers for classes on themes I have no passion for whatsoever. A prime example of this was when I wrote a research paper on the future role of dentists in society. The struggle to even start these projects is so real, since I
know it’s just going to be hours of staring in front of a blank screen trying to get some words out there with no emotion whatsoever. I’m just like, can I turn this into a haiku or something.

Even with topics I care about, I get stuck so often in my writing. Something kind of upsetting is when I care too much about something and and go on to ramble about it for pages, only to find out that everything I said makes no sense in correlation with the prompt. Or when I want to say everything and only have 2 pages to say it. Or when I want to expand it just a little more, when I want to say what I feel but have no idea how to say it, and am struggling for the right way to express this when the project is due the next day.

Life is hard.

Sure, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the land of Microsoft Word but–at the peak of my frustration–I need to remind myself that, all in all, I love writing. I think we’ve all established that but, at times, it’s definitely a love-hate.

lovehate

My Afterlife Should Contain the Following:

A short list of things I could never get tired of:

 

1. The band Wilco.

Of all the music I listen to, the one band that I will never get sick of is Wilco. I’ve seen them in concert numerous times, watched all the documentaries, own every album. The band’s diversity encapsulates every type of song and style that you could ever need or want.

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2. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

Something about this book is magical. It creeped me out but something about the story just never let me go. This is kind of an odd thing to list for something that I can never get tired of because reading this book over and over again is not a frequent activity for me, but for some reason, to this day it stays on my mind.

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3. The podcast Serial

I hope to God that they continue to produce this podcast because since its existence, its consumed all of my free time. It’s very similar to In Cold Blood, but in podcast form, with new dimensions of the story added week by week.

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4. Hmmm, what else. I’m thankful for good ice cream. Specifically, the Brambleberry Crisp ice cream flavor from Jeni’s Ice Cream (which can be found throughout Ohio and now Chicago!)

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5. Also, Korean barbecue.

Seriously. So good.
Seriously. So good.

 

An Evening With An Actual Writer

This past Thursday, I attended Literati Bookstore’s event, “SWEETLAND WORD SQUARED: WRITER TO WRITER, WITH LAURA KASISCHKE.” The event was a live interview of Laura Kasischke, a well-published author of both novels and poetry. She is also a professor of English here at the University, which is why she participated in this interview series. Here are some thoughts I had and things I took note of during the event:

  • During the introduction, the interviewer read a VERY long list of her achievements. Ms. Kasischke is clearly very successful, and her achievements are truly impressive (especially for a new writer who has yet to publish anything of note!). Nevertheless, she seemed/looked/sounded very nervous during this section. I found myself thinking that she should be more confident in the face of such success. Maybe she is just uncomfortable with the formal recognition?
  • Ms. Kasischke on powering through: “I write whether I have writer’s block or not.”
  • As part of the interview, Ms. Kasischke read aloud from her forthcoming novel. In it, she describes (at GREAT length) a boy drowning to death – but you don’t realize until very late into it. I found her ability to catch the reader by surprise very remarkable. Her command of descriptive language is also very impressive. Furthermore, she writes with great rhythm – her words flow well and move forward forcefully. When she stopped reading, I wanted to ask her to keep going.
  • By the time she finished reading, she settled in and seemed much more comfortable than at the beginning. Maybe talking about her work rather than her awards put her at ease?
  • From listening to her speak, I gathered that she seems to think the idea of having a “writing ritual” is silly – she thinks of it as something she does, not something “structured” or “with method.” Following from this, she noted that the themes of her writing come from her life and from within. She emphasized that her themes are not picked out in advance. I think that her skepticism for a writing process is interesting, especially since she is a teacher of writing. This seems contradictory.
  • When asked what her pre-occupations are: “Sex and death.” The audience laughed. She asked if anyone really thinks about anything else. Then she added that she also thinks about motherhood and religion and the “physical life” and language.
  • She reads from “Mrs. Dalloway” when she wants to be inspired.
  • Next she read a few of her poems. Her poems are just as engaging and descriptive as her prose. One of the poems she read felt extremely personal – it was weird hearing it from her, since she knew what it is about while she read it, but the rest of us did not.
  • She commented that a big part of her creative process is reflecting on the ways that what’s happening in her life while she is writing influences what come out.
  • She made a big deal about “The Habit of Writing” – she was really motivated to express how important it is to write every day, or at least on a regular basis, in order to stay in the habit.
  • Her thoughts on teaching: Everything is a drag anyway – teaching writing is as close as it gets to being a full-time writer and also having a job.
  • Other thoughts on writing: “It’s not always going to be fun.” “Learn what you’re obsessed with.” “It will distract you from the things that make you anxious and depressed by making you anxious and depressed.”
  • On getting a good poem out of breaking her ankle: “Other people break their ankle and they get nothing from it.”
  • She describes writing with the goal of publication as “soul-corrupting” – She says it doesn’t work. She is adamant that it’s better to just write and see if it gets published.

On the whole, I found Ms. Kasischke to be very interesting and inspiring. Her thoughts on writing were dense and well-articulated, and pushed me to think more about my own writing experience. At the end of the event I bought her book, “The Raising.” Then I went home and read the first seventeen chapters. I highly recommend it.