I am less panicked about my project now. I still have to edit and refine whatever I have written but it’s about done. There are many things to reflect about the process of doing this project but here are two lessons that I’ve learned along the way:
- UMich Library is great
When I decided to do my project on food behaviors and how those behaviors enacted culture, I was overwhelmed by the narrow focus that this subject had. Google did not help as much as I had hoped for and I felt I had an impossibly difficult task ahead of me. So, I put off the real content of my project and focused too much on the personal narrative aspect of the project. Driven by mid-semester panic, I went to the library website and only got books on culture that were written in Korean and Japanese (I was focusing on East Asian culture that time). I couldn’t remember what I tried after but I went back home with six books on the subject matter. While gathering the books, I came across a whole aisle of books on food and culture, and people do academically study and write about food culture.
I figured that resources are abundant. In any writing task, no matter how obscure and impossible, there are resources. They can come in many forms. What is more important is having the right toolkit to search for these resources. I usually start any kind of research-based writing with Google. It’s a no-brainer. But usually with so much materials already on Google, I never really explored other options. I think that being in a college that provide its students with access to good resources, paired with doing projects, help so much in building the right toolkit. This is what my housemate (who already graduated many years ago) means when she says college is about building skills and techniques.
2. Workshop is important
Sad to say I have had to miss many workshops due to illness and work. But on the days that I’ve had workshops, I’ve gotten helpful feedbacks on things that would help the writing process. I think that workshop is an important session where writers get to get together and exchange ideas on what tools they use to begin and continue writing. Somehow it creates a sense that we are all in this together and writers are not lonely people.
It also teaches me to understand things from other writer’s perspective. Sometimes I really want a certain writing to sound a certain way that I like. But with workshop, it’s important to have the other writer’s intentions in mind and offer feedbacks on the things that they intent to do. In short, workshop is the session to help the writer get to their goals, not my imagined goals for them.
Learning is good, but after I finish the class (and the minor), I wonder when else will I get to write and be among a community of writers. It seems like while in college, my motivation to write, write, write is deadline because deadline = grades. I’ve tried many times, over the years, to get into the habit of blogging but knowing that other people (read: strangers who I don’t even know about) have free access to my writings and thoughts. That just seems scary. With writing in class, however, my audience is my lecturer, GSI and classmates. I know them.