A Short Rant on Inefficient Writing

There is one form of writing I hate most: networking emails. There are many different kinds of networking emails, such as:

  • Cold-emails (I don’t know you, but plz help me get job thx)
  • Warm-emails (You were in a student org 6 years ago that I’m now involved in, help me get a job plz & thx)
  • Post-event emails (We chatted for 4 minutes in a circle at Pizza House with 6 other students, plz help me get an interview)
  • Post-call emails (Thanks for spending 45 awkward minutes on the phone)
  • Post-interview emails (thx 4 ur time, it was great to chat about ___, thx, etc)

After recruiting with at least 10 companies, I’ve probably sent at least 100 networking emails in the past couple months. These emails are rarely longer than 3-6 sentences long, but usually take me at least 15-20 minutes to write. It’s infuriating. I’m constantly asking myself questions like “How do I mention our common interest in soccer in a way that makes this person remember me, but not in a way that makes me come across as extremely fake?” Or I’ll spend my time making my email sound less repetitive so I don’t use the word ‘chatting’ three times. The frustrating thing is that none of these specific choices ever really affect the reader, because the people reading these emails will likely skim them. But this doesn’t stop me from spending forever writing them. Having to write a personalized follow-up email to someone you connected with is incredibly easy, but unfortunately you can’t connect with everyone well. Not having to write these emails is probably the best part about being done with recruiting. Bureaucracy is fun.

Trust the Process

As I reflect on the capstone I am realizing how important it is to trust the process. I was very worried about my project and executing something that I was not 100% emotionally invested in. But this project has unfolded in a semi-miraculous way. I did an interview on Friday and from this interview I figured out what medium I will be publishing my project as. I want to keep the idea of the project but instead of recording the writing as a documentary I want to tell the story of the BSU, the history and the mission common goals and it role in the community. I will research the art of storytelling to make it a true story and I will use the stories of the people i interview to help me to tell my story. It seems like a lot but wish me luck in trusting that the process will take me to each next step.

Thinking About Remediation

I am still pretty unsure of the direction my remediation will go. My first thought was to do a spin on some kind of political campaign or advertisement, and I found a video done by Planned Parenthood that seems to be along the lines of what I was thinking. However, I am NOT very tech savvy, and have really never made a video like this at all. I want my remediation project to look clean and professional, and I am worried about working in an entirely new medium because I do not want my project to look sloppy or amateur. So, I have been brainstorming other mediums through which I could get out the same type of message. Perhaps a podcast? Any other ideas would be much appreciated!

Either way, I think this video hits on the main points/exigence I want my remediation project to have. I really liked that it talked about some of the history behind Roe v Wade, old footage,  and then include some testimonials. I have audio recordings of the interviews I conducted, so I think it would be cool to incorporate that into my remediation project. I also like that throughout the video there was a definitive call to action, which I think was a big part of my repurposing project. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind about these issues, just to remind all those who feel strongly about fighting for a woman’s right to choose that the fight is long from over, and that we should continue to vote for candidates and policy that protect our rights. I think the video really captured that idea, and it is something that I hope to emulate in my own remediation project.

 

Some thoughts on comfort

Today, Ray posed a question to the class: when/in what context are we most comfortable expressing ourselves in words?/In what situations does our narrative voice come most naturally to us?

I didn’t immediately have an answer. I’ve found that my expression, whether written or vocal, is usually fluid and dependent on the context — I sometimes catch myself mimicking my friends’ speech patterns when I’m with them, or writing essays in whatever voice the topics/discipline calls for. So my inner antagonist immediately strove to counter that maybe I’m just comfortable adapting to each scenario as it appears… But the more I thought about this question, the more I thought of my brother. Only three years apart, we’ve grown to be very close and both being native-Swedish-speakers-mostly-Americanized, our conversations blend into this Swenglish hybrid that I don’t experience with any other family member. A lapse of Swedish vocabulary on some topic will results in the sporatic interjection of an English word, just as some childhood memories — names of places, television characters, candies, family nicknames — will require expression in our first language when there just isn’t an English counterpart. Whichever language we start with is seldom the same that ends the conversation; it is perpetual lingual identity limbo that lends a useful metaphor for our upbringing.

In the end, it’s still an unhelpful answer to a straightforward question; I exist comfortably in the in-between, the center shadow of a Venn Diagram. How this will play out in my project I don’t yet know…

Send Help

This remediation project is stressing me out. I feel because I have already done a blog and an advice column I should do something on the opposite end of the spectrum like a blog post or a short film. What I was thinking of doing for the remediation project was either a children’s book or a storyboard. It is something that I have never done before and I think it could be interesting to explore that side of writing.

I am in the process of exploring models right now. I want to tell a story, whether that be in the style of a picture children’s book or a storyboard. I want to incorporate a lesson that I leaned while studying abroad but be able to deliver that message in a different way. My advice column was very literal and direct. In my remediation I want to convey a different message in a completely new context. I do not remember the last time I looked at a children’s book. From what I remember my favorite was “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Suess and “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister. It is a completely different style of writing that I am very interested in working with. What I am learning from these two works is that since they are targeted towards children they is always a lesson or message imbedded in the work.

Although making a video or podcast would be a totally opposite medium, I want to stay in the spectrum of classic writing. I have also thought to possibly incorporate video as the presentation model of the book in order to have a different presentation mode. I hope to get some more advice on the direction I should take!

Text to Image…probably

I keep coming back to this one idea: abstract illustration.

  • Why, Emily, whatever do you mean? Are you going to do an art?
  • “…probably”
Let me catch up my new blog group and anyone else who happens to read this:
For my repurposing project I paired 3 original high fantasy vignettes (short fiction) with an exploratory nonfiction piece.
illustration
Concept illustration of the Waystone Inn from Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind

So, my idea is to create 3 illustrations, 1 for each vignette. Either that or a short comic, but I’ll come back to that.

These illustrations wouldn’t necessarily be straightforward images of what my text is describing, but they would also ideally be manifestations of my original intents for each vignette. Which is to say, it’d get a little abstract. Of course, abstraction may also be a product of my artistic style and ability.
That’s one thing I’m kind of worried about for this idea, to be honest. The style I art in may not be conducive to the thoughts I’m trying to get across in the context of my vignette. However, if I think about the images outside of the context of my vignettes and only as separate creations within themselves it could work out pretty well.
K. There’s one.


Now the comic option. This would still focus primarily around my vignettes, but it would leave more room for the author-audience direct communication I love so, so much.

comic
Chibi style comic by MartAiConan on deviantArt
The chibi style pictured to the right would make it fairly easy to add a humorous element to my vignettes, which are otherwise pretty serious. Using a comic could take the same content, but twist it to create a different tone for a different audience.
This could potentially be the scenes direct from the vignettes, or a more superfluous interaction between author and the same elements within the vignettes.
Either way, it seems like a lot. Especially since most of this is digital drawing.
That last goes for the previous abstract art option, too. Though I could definitely do something nondigital, I haven’t every really crossed that threshold outside of technical drawings. I’m not sure if I even have the proper equipment and software for that.
Ah well. These are some solid ideas, and I’ll definitely go with one of the two…eventually.

Blog 7: Remediation Station

I would like to preface this blog post with a personal complaint about the state of my laptop, which is currently horrible. Apparently my “startup disk is full” and I’ve been putting off dealing with this for ~6 months now, and so I’m basically watching documents crumble and crash right before my very eyes. I should probably get to the Apple store, like, yesterday. On a semi-related note of remediating my laptop files into versions compatible to store on an external hard drive, I turn to the topic of remediating my project. I’ve been thinking a lot about my theme: humor, and how it’s emotional connotations are easy to connect to humans and their personal stories. That being said, my original idea for the remediation project actually came to me before I had completely honed in on what I envisioned for my repurposing project.

Considering human emotion and effective storytelling, I immediately thought of a blog I feel truly captures both of these concepts impeccably: Humans of New York. My idea for my remediation project is to take the way the photographer, Brandon, conveys such a deeper/ more meaningful story behind the blurbs and still shots he posts on his blog and mimic that. For my project, I’m thinking of doing a “Humors of Ann Arbor.” Originally, I thought I would be able to run around Ann Arbor, eavesdrop on conversation, listen for a cue of laughter and ask what the person was laughing about. However, after fleshing out this idea with several other students and myself, I realize this might not be the most effective way to extract the “story behind the story” idea that I’m going for. Instead, I’ve started compiling a list of questions surrounding themes that deal with humor such as comedy, laughter, etc. As of now, my idea is to roam around Ann Arbor, explain to people what I’m doing, take their photo and ask them one of the following questions:

1. What makes you laugh?
2. When’s the last time you laughed?
3. Do you have a fake laugh?

4. How do you make others laugh?
5. When’s the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?
6. Who makes you laugh the most?
7. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you cried.
8. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you peed.
9. Tell me about the time you laughed when you were uncomfortable.
10. Off the top of your heard, what’s the funniest joke you know/ have ever heard?
11. Tell me about how you feel about the idea that, “laughter is the best medicine?” Do you agree/ disagree, and why?
I’m not sure if these will be the most effective questions in getting people to open up and reveal things deeper within their psyche, rather than just the surface level answers some of these questions elicit. However, I’m planning on further researching how exactly Brandon goes about asking people things and how he gets them to admit to such interesting snippets of their lives. It might be mostly in subject selection, or perhaps he has a formula for getting individuals to open up. Whatever the case, I hope to be able to capture and project the emotions and stories of individuals in Ann Arbor, with humor as a guide, but uncovering emotion beyond that.
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
My audience will be fairly similar to the one it reached in my repurposing project, in that I plan to create either a digital blog or Instagram account or both. (Mirroring Humans of New York.) It will reach the millennial audience of my repurposing project, but this audience may stretch a bit beyond millennials into both younger and older demographics who utilize Instagram or surf the blogosphere. I’ve never really had much experience photographing or interviewing people, so I’m excited to challenge myself with this task. Hopefully, it will further benefit both the quality and caliber of my writing and my writing experience for the future.

A Month of Content Creation

Since the start of the school year, I will fully admit that I have not been focused on any specific thing. When I say that, I mean that I have not been solely focused certain topics/assignments. Luckily, I have been able to do things slightly sporadically as I searched for jobs, went to work, and do classwork. However, I know that this is not going to be the case for my capstone project. The amount of research, writing, web developing and editing that is going to be necessary to make this project successful honestly scares me.

So to make things less scary I have made the decision to put some things on hold for the month of November. This week marks the last week I will actively look for jobs. I have to apply for everything by Sunday. I won’t deny that the worry of finding a full time job and starting my career has been at the front of my mind since school started. This has caused me to look at job boards, get depressed, and worry about my future instead of focusing on the present. I would spend hours looking at these postings, trying to find something that I thought I was qualified for, and by the time I was done or had given up the search, my free time is gone, and I no longer have the chance to do other school work.

To keep this from making my life much more difficult, I am not going to do this  and focus all of my energy on creating this capstone project. I believe that doing this will give me enough extra time to actually focus my work and let me do the content generation I need to do. If I’m lucky, I will have a much better idea as to how much time this actually takes me, and I will not have to continue this. Also, hopefully this will allow me to make my project the exact way  want to do it.

When your research expectations don’t match what’s out there

Over the last ten days, I have begun thinking more seriously about my Capstone Project. After creating my production plan, the logical step was to begin research for the content of the project. Unfortunately, all of the information I anticipated finding is nowhere to be found anywhere on the internet or in a scholarly journal. My search terms all yield millions of results, but none of them are quite what I am looking for.

Specifically, my project has to do with the discrepancies between gender roles and gendered characteristics when it comes to living arrangements. As per my production plan, my tasks this week included psychological, historical, and interview-based research about the ways people develop gender attitudes and the reasons they hold the attitudes that they do. However, almost all of the information out there, including housing policies, blogs, articles, etc., are about housing that is designed to or should accommodate those who have some kind of gender identification issue, or a housing concern related to sexual orientation and similar issues. These are not areas I am intending to cover, as my project is centered on those who choose to live with those of another gender for social, economic, convenience, or other practical concerns. I am not looking at all at groups who are marginalized, and I definitely don’t want to approach this from a civil rights perspective. As far as media research, I was able to find only one TV show about my type of living arrangement, no movies, and no books.

My professor, Ray, has suggested that I widen my research to include these other aspects of gender and cohabitation, while at the same time narrowing my research to include only one perspective, such as media representations, that consider scenarios different from my own.
This week, I am hoping to make more progress on this front. While the holdup has derailed my production plan a bit, I plan to spend the week working from this changed perspective and catching up in time for our next workshop session.

reMEDIAting

This remediating proposal really snuck up on me. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do for it while I was still in the middle of my repurposing.

“A podcast,” I thought. “That’ll be perfect.”

Drake Hotline Bling

My brain has been very chatty this semester and I think it’s in large part due to this course. I find myself constantly thinking about my topic on stress and success at elite universities and pretty much changing my mind every single day on how I feel about it. This has posed a huge problem in deciding what I want to do for my remediation project.

Now that I’m digging deep into the nuts and bolts of the remediating project, I’m starting to realize that given my topic and the audience I want to go after, perhaps a podcast isn’t the appropriate medium for communicating my ideas. From what I discovered from the repurposing project, my remediation will likely be evolving from the day I turn in my proposal to the final class of the semester (maybe even beyond that!). Along those lines, I’m starting to become okay with not knowing exactly how my project is going to end up. I guess the mystery is part of the excitement of writing.

With all of that ambiguity being said, I am leaning towards doing a TED talk-esque project. I want to be able to present my project myself with my voice and my image. The two models for my source come from TED Talks that I have previously seen both during college and in my job.

The first model is How to find work you love presented by Scott Dinsmore. This topic coincides with mine to some degree, and includes a CTA (call to action) for the audience to get out there and do what they love. I want to include this same sort of emotional appeal in my remediation project because I feel that appealing to emotion is what separates a great TED talk from a mediocre one.

The second model is Your body language shapes who you are presented by Amy Cuddy. This is my favorite TED talk of all time because Amy incorporates personal experience so seamlessly with the science behind communicating power through body language. An aspect I chose not to include in my repurposing project was my own personal experience, and I definitely want to include this aspect in my remediation project. My main goal will be to have the reader see me as a human they can relate to in 21 minutes, just as Amy does, despite the fact they will be looking at me through a computer screen.

Through writing this blog post I feel way better about my remediation process than I did yesterday. I think my main challenge will be to get my ideas down on paper for the proposal and then I’ll just take the rest of the process day by day. This will definitely be the most exciting and challenging project yet, so I’m looking forward to taking you all on this journey with me!

Jimmy Fallon Mind Blown