a small taste of: myclosetedthoughts.

the color of shadows.

everything under the sun has a shadow. and each shadow is more or less the same color.

while i’m aware a shadow on red velvet starkly contrasts a shadow on your yellow sundress, the “shade” is still the same.

there has been a grain of black paint mixed into its complexion––how does one mix colors to find a shadow?

the more i think of it, the more shadows fascinate me. they are what give our world perspective. we are naturally attracted to how shadows fall and grow tall.

they are visible in the day and night, forever attached to everything and everyone. the shadows are everywhere when one looks around, and yet we don’t take time to acknowledge or appreciate.

one fails to notice them anymore because we know the shadows are there, but they don’t catch our eye. however, without them, our world would look flat and fake.

anyway, what interests me in life is not what is easily shown in broad daylight but what those shapes and hues look like in the shadows. what do your shadows look like? 

i’m not asking for your biggest darkest deepest secret, although i’ll listen if you’d like to share. ​no, i speak of who you are in the realm between light and dark. the indescribable color you emanate when this shade of life is part of you.

i am opening “my closet” doors, for people to read some of my closeted thoughts, fears, and secrets. my motive behind creating this with such personal content is to “come out” with a lot of different discoveries and thoughts i’ve crossed during my undergraduate career. i feel as though young college students and young adults today take less time revealing who they really are inside. understandably, being vulnerable leaves an opportunity to be judged or abandoned. but i envision that my vulnerability and bravery to open up in this first collection may encourage others to relate and partake in conversations. click here to read more: https://agalee.wixsite.com/myclosetedthoughts

hello capstone friendos!

welcome to the club! you’ve probably never met me, as i don’t know who is reading this, but we have a few things in common, i already know. as i am leaving and you are entering, we are in our last class for our Minor.  we are undergoing a bizarre quasi-virtual reality because of this pandemic. but we are still here because we love what we do: we love to write. we love to create. we love to connect. and we love to read and learn. 

quite frankly, i don’t have a ton of advice because i’m sure you kind of know what you want to create in this project. by now, after experiencing different courses at U of M to complete the Minor, you have probably been exposed to all sorts of genres, and hopefully you have found your strengths and weaknesses, you know which topics interest you when you write––you have found a clearer sense of your voice. 

and so i can only say––like the former capstone friends told me when i was in your shoes now––trust the process. trust your mentors. utilize your resources. and most importantly trust yourself throughout the whole project. 

you will finish the project on time.

you will find the courage to interview someone.

you may feel like you don’t know what you want to do.

and you will probably change your mind a gazillion times along the way. i have, so have my classmates. and definitely everyone before you have as well. ebb and flow with trust.

i realize this is almost like a pep talk, and i honestly didn’t mean for it to come off this way. i just want to be that voice, advocating for you because i think most fear stems from this idea that you might not like what you created by the end of the semester, or it’ll not meet your standards. i sure feel that way, even when i have a few weeks left. but when you––and me too, i am almost speaking to myself now––care about something so much, you’ll create this beautiful thing that will stand its own, and it will even invite you later to create and build some more. Isn’t that the best part of what we do?

happy writing friendos!

aga.

reflections reflections…

I’ve had a great experience pitching my ideas in class the other day. To be honest, I had a difficult time writing all four pitches––I thought it would take me forty minutes to write all four, but it surprisingly took me 2 hours!

I think what I struggled with most at the time, was having an idea that I’d be able to write about, struggle with, and have fun for a long period of time! So when I squeezed out four pitch ideas, I was very pleased and excited to hear how my peers were interested in all of them, and one of my pitches allowed me to write about the other three pitch ideas.

Okay, I’m getting pretty vague––in a nutshell, I am a creative person. I love crafting things, painting, writing poetry, making zines, make moody vignettes if I’m in the mood. Three of my pitches for the other day were:

  1. A “mixed media” book of vignettes regarding my relationship with my dad.
  2. A “vlog” of what it is like to be a musician/music student in today’s modern world––how my career may look different and unique.
  3. A “virtual” book club slash blog, where I read a ton of books, and review them, for all readers to see and have a conversation online with me!

But the one that occurred to me first, and the one I actually pitched first, was my idea of a book of poetry, themed “my closet.” I want to write a series of poems, prose or abstract, where I can reveal thoughts or feelings: joys and fears, bothers and good food, secrets and other secrets, etc. I want my reader (and I’m still figuring out who the audience may be) to know who I really am––what is in my closet?

My peer group on Tuesday was really helpful guiding me to see how I can really do all of these other pitches, within the structure of my favorite pitch. I can talk about my relationship with my dad in several poems, or reveal what it is like to struggle in a practice room for hours each day, or quote a book and write a poem of its impact on me. There will be crafts! I know myself, I wouldn’t be able to abstain from that!

Talking these ideas out really encouraged me that I do have something I’m excited about, and I am really looking forward to where this idea takes me!

words for days.

in the end, i feel like i’ve found my voice–expanding on the prose is something i am realizing i seem to enjoy. up until this course, i have been insecure, almost ashamed, of sharing my writing. perhaps it was the content i always immersed myself in. looking back now, it baffles me how i have never done any creative writing. ever. i would only bury myself in the comfort of academic essays–research, research, and more research. to me, i could research and write, without ever exposing what i actually thought or felt. i guess this was why i was so insecure. i realize that my minimal exposure to creative writing, and vast, endless writing of only academic essays has taken a toll–i seem to have lost my voice amidst reiterating research, regurgitation of facts to support an idea etc. sometimes i would read past essays and not recognize that it was my own writing. but this course, the creative route i chose to take in my experiments and project, has allowed me to find my own voice. i now recognize my thoughts and can almost hear me reading aloud. currently, i feel as if i am blossoming out of the fear of not being able to write. writing is fun. and i am most proud of my newly discovered love and confidence in writing.  

because there may be some goodbyes to the wonderful people i met in my gateway class, i would like to say that i am quite grateful for everyone’s guidance and encouragement for what may be one of the more important things i do in life. i have been stretched during my final project, and have grown towards a niche i’d love to explore in writing about: human conditions, emotions, relationships, etc.

check it out here: https://agalee.wixsite.com/agalee

in my time before the capstone, i hope to continue down this path, open to whatever comes my way. taking an idea, and running with it to see where i end up!

Lit––––(erally) listening to Heather Ann Thompson at –––erati.

https://www.literatibookstore.com/literati-coffee

The buzz on Literati’s second floor is quite present. Students, scholars, professors, a child, parents––all gather as writers to hear what Pulitzer Prize winner Heather Ann Thompson has to say, not only about her book Blood in the Water, but also what she has to say as a writer. Lingering coffee aromas, chair legs’ burps as they drag across floors for friends to sit with friends, a little girl’s constant feet shuffling, laughter, silence, and intellect fill the room. You can hear the eager ears in the room, and smell the thirst for inspiration. Writer’s block does not exist here.

What struck me most was Heather Ann Thompson’s encouragement for writers to have confidence in their opinion, and weigh in on their voice. Otherwise, “we would all be literally reiterating the source!” she says.

This encouragement is important for me as a writer for two reasons: the first, as a writer, I am not confident––in the slightest––in what I have to say. Looking back, I have been taught since the tenth grade that solely embedding quotes from the source accurately constructs a research paper, with no room for the author’s reflection or input. It seemed, at the time, that the “A” paper I needed looked like a bunch of research collaged in an essay form. Here, I can now see the craft of how writers walk a fine line between providing factual information for the reader to interpret, while also incorporating their own voice. Without voice, the piece would just be a reformatted version of the original source.

To hear an esteemed researcher and writer say to press in our own voice, even in research papers, is refreshing for me to hear. I can say the mountain of academic papers and research assignments do not seem so impossible! Sadly, the way I was taught in the tenth grade still haunts me, especially since I occasionally struggle with indirectness and lack of voice. But that is something I try and tackle every time I write!

The second reason this encouragement stood out to me: for Heather Ann Thompson to present this encouragement to an audience of writers in the first place whispers to me that perhaps, I am not alone in my insecurities and fears of pressing in on my own voice. This insecurity of mine is what makes me feel inadequate as a writer…but perhaps we are all still learning!

Moth!

As the story is told, I believe the power of storytelling is found when people are most moved by two things: vulnerability, and their ability to see themselves witnessing the story first-handed. It is a legitimate genre as it is most difficult to successfully tell a plot, while incorporating tidbits of character development, as well as making it interactive, asking questions, comedic relief, etc.

 

I listened to “Stranded on a Desert Island” among others. This one stood out to me because there was sort of a plot line: the progression of his high school relationship. Nothing, however, was pinpointed. It felt like some guy just randomly had a microphone stuck to his face, and he was forced to tell a story. He did seem comfortable, so much so, that he took his time, allowing space for the audience to laugh. This is important!

 

I do have a desire to write my own Moth story. I probably would not share it; I feel too insecure in what I have to say, to be completely honest. The Moth has definitely opened my eyes to writing about anything—the whole gist of conversing about a one worded theme is quite difficult, and would be a great exercise to do everyday. Journaling about random topics may stretch the brain and creativity, to create linguistic arts.

How-To: Zine!

“A what?” you ask?

Zines are pronounced like “magazine” without the “maga.” sounds like: zeen, zene, /zēn/.

 

So then, what is a zine?

Zines are––in short–– DIY, unique publications. The creators of zines tend to make these out of passion for a particular subject. And! There are no rules. You can use any word processors, and content to put in your little booklet. Crafts, collage, photography, silkscreen, hand-written creative works…you name it! To name a few subjects to get your ball rolling, zines tend to be comics, creative or personal writings, fanfiction, sci-fi, art, fish, kale, your hates, anything really.

 

There are so many reasons why making a zine is exciting!

  1. publish something and call it your own
  2. get creative, and share it with others!
  3. find a topic so that you may find a niche for your publication—aka, meet new friends!
  4. rant, lament, rage, encourage to your heart’s desire for the whole world to see
  5. explore the arts and crafts!

 

Have I convinced you yet? Great! Let’s make a zine:

 

Duration time: depends on how long it takes you to go to Michaels to get craft supplies! the end of the week? i hope not!

Prep time: Are your Michaels bags still by the door? Go bring them over–it’s been a month.

Ingredients:

-1 computer

-1 hand to write things

-1 pair of scissors

-1 glue stick

-3+ sheets of colored construction paper

-however many number of colors that exist in the world: get them all in acrylic paints!

-which demands a brush or two

-x number of magazines to collage(?)

-∞ Google images to print, cut, and paste

-Glitter? yes please.

 

Step 1 (and only step): type, write, cut, paste, erase, tear, and smile! all in a day’s work…

 

Need some visuals? okay okay:

~Here are some snapshots of Lollalane’s Zine. She videos her making it herself, and posted it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0wmN7cFafU

 

Her 12:22 minute tutorial video shows Lollalane stitches her own work, rather than stapling. Throughout the video, she uses all sorts of paper stocks, DIY style. I could potentially use her method of stitching the paper together, rather than staples. Binding is important! Also, when she shows her final product at the end of the video, she spatially, there is a lot of blank space, which suits her “vibe” of the zine. Viewers cannot see her content and words inside, however the cursive writing, and dried flowers, see-through paper, and shades of taupe, off white, lavender, etc, all contribute to the theme of her zine, whatever it may be. Are your juices flowin’ on what you want your vibe to be?

 

~You could even get it into a real booklet. Like Ben Newman’s graphic novel/indie zine:

https://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design/indie-zines-4132490

Be courageous––take a leap of faith. Do you like your zine? We probably would to. The whole world would love to see it. So submit it and get it printed, and distributed in coffee shops and urban stores!

 

~Or! Put it on your website! (aka E-Zines).

https://blog.flipsnack.com/what-is-a-zine/

Here, Adelina includes some examples of E-Zines in her blog. E-Zines are a great alternative to publishing a print zine into a fully electronic one. AT NO COST! Simply scan, create it into a pdf, and use a layout program to distribute onto your website! Make your creation accessible.

 

Thanks for reading! now go, zine away!

How-to: Write an Exploratory Essay

What is an Exploratory Essay?
The short answer: they are essays that explore. Ha. Okay––the long answer! Exploratory essays are neutral pieces that contain a lot of research and analysis done to potentially solve a big Question. These types of essays tend to provide and examine all different views regarding an issue, rather than advocating for a certain side.

 

The big Question:

This is Step One of the process to writing any essay! Before you even begin running, pencil on the paper (or fingers on the keypad), you need to find a question that you’d like to find the answer to. Some things to think about when defining your essay:

  1. What would you like to explore? Current events? Values and ethics? Public policies?
  2. Who is your target audience? Is your purpose behind this paper to help you come to a conclusion yourself? Or for other people to read, who are concerned about this same topic?
  3. What is really important behind this issue, and what are some of the better ways to solve this problem?

 

Once you have developed your question, gathering research, observing and analyzing sources would be the majority of the work. Writing the rest of the essay should be easy to put together, since it would be comprised of all your research! Asterisk––while you, the author, do not have to be concerned about having a persuasive tone, an effective, conversational exploratory essay remains neutral, covering as many relevant angles as possible, not leaving a single leaf unturned, if you will.

 

Got your question written down? Great––onwards…

 

Step 2! The Introduction.

If it was not already obvious, the introduction is where you introduce your topic and purpose (big Question). Providing background, including previous research done, other opinions and conclusions, and the audience involved, should most probably be addressed! *cough *cough.

 

Take reigns of your writer’s artistic license: write more than one introduction paragraph. Capture the reader’s attention by opening with an anecdote. Or shocking statistics? Questions? Think about it I dare you.

 

Here’s an example!

This is a screenshot of an article on The Atlantic’s website. Underneath the title, reads “Urban areas are heat islands. Could that be dictating the color of their gastropods?” There is your question. And the article opens with an imaginative activity, interactive, for the reader. Following, author Sarah Zhang provides researched information. Do the same!

Body Paragraphs:

It is here where the readers get a glimpse in your mind, on what you are observing, and how you are processing the information. As you would mentally think about all angles and possibilities to find the answer to an everyday-life question, and come to a conclusion, you do that here! Just linguistically. Us readers want to know:

  1. What source are you thinking about? Title? Author? When was it published? More importantly…why is this relevant in your exploratory essay?
  2. How are you grasping the information? Is this source helping pull you forward, closer to a conclusion to the big Q?

 

An example on how to introduce your source: Denver Post’s article “Horrible poetry and the people who love it” written by Newhouse News Service. Jendi Reiter is formally introduced, along with direct quotes of their opinions.

For a thorough exploration on your topic, provide at least three sources with analysis!

 

Finally! It’s time to decide, for yourself.

The Conclusion is a time to conjure a potential answer to your own question. Perhaps, you are even more conflicted, after exposed to so much more of this issue. Or you have come to a conclusion you never would have thought you’d make, earlier in this process.  Maybe you have decided that you will not decide, but have successfully pulled this discussion further.

What I find makes a riveting conclusion is what spoke out most to you during your research. What was most important? How did you feel about it? Could that potentially be the thing that catches the reader’s attention, to naturally agree? Challenge the reader to push thought in your topic.

A glance at Burton Raffel’s conclusion in his “Emotional History: An Exploratory Essay.” Raffel admits that he is not yet comfortable to make any conclusions just yet. After eleven pages exploring the historical essay, it is evident that with Raffel’s further questions in the conclusion that he has not arrived to a solution. Instead, he has dived deeper, in understanding this topic, and is not deciding just yet. Discussions moving forward, people!

The Guide: Creating the Quintessential Vignette

First off, let us question: What is a vignette?

Vignettes are written works that exhibit:

-a short scene

-an illustration

-atmosphere

-descriptive passages

-a particular moment.

 

Generally they lack complete plots or narrative, and are not stand-alones. Do not get these mixed up with written sketches! Written sketches are also short pieces of writing that have almost no plot. They tend to focus on notable details of people or locations. While word vignette comes from the French vigne meaning “little vine,” the primary difference between vignettes and sketches are vignettes are little vines of a larger plot or work.

 

I have been finding in my genre exploration that vignettes can be found in many settings:

They may be part of a short story. A brief reference may be the opening passage of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” From the get-go, the reader is able to establish a clear image and atmosphere of shadowed leaves, the silenced night, and the intoxicated man sitting alone in a cafe. There is no dialogue, however Hemingway successfully creates portraits of the setting and character.

 

A more standard vignette example can be Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street. A series of vignettes create a portrait of Esperanza’s life: her childhood in a low income Latino neighborhood in Chicago. Cisneros does a great job including a variety of memories, moments, and observations, so the audience can further understand overall images on Mango Street, 

without any developing plot. While Esperanza’s age is not explicitly revealed, it is implied she is about thirteen years old. Her maturity shows through the tone, diction, and syntax of Esperanza’s narrative.

Vignette can even be found in poetry. Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry-Picking poem is two stanzas long, filled with descriptions appealing to all senses. While there is a simple plot: what “we” (it is never revealed who the other person is, beside the narrator) would do, see, smell when we went to pick blackberries. The visceral details however, hint the depth behind the ephemerality of it all.

 

This may bleed into a vigne of vignettes: the childhood vignette.  

 

I had not been introduced to writing a childhood vignette until my junior year in high school. As an english class, we read An Na’s A Step from Heaven. Comprised of a collection of vignettes and short stories the chapters of the book tell the story of a young Korean girl Young Ju moving to Southern California, the ups and downs of her family’s cultural readjustment, and her maturity. What especially stood out to me was Chapter One: Sea Bubble, a childhood vignette told from the standpoint of four year old Young Ju. The short sentences, words even, express the simplicity of Young Ju’s thoughts as a child. At the time, I was inspired for the childhood vignette I wrote, a memory from second grade. However now, I feel An Na’s work in A Step from Heaven may be more relatable as I am currently writing another childhood vignette, from the perspective of a five year old girl, equally innocent, fresh, and open-minded as Young Ju.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So all in all, how do you write a vignette?

 

Establish the context! When I think of vignettes, I think of a large painting, but you do not know it looks like. Instead, the artist cuts the painting into nine pieces, and hands you a piece, like a slice of pie. By looking at this one slice, it is up to you to observe, admire, and question, what this large painting looks like. This is similar to vignettes in literature. What makes vignettes especially impactful are the descriptive and emotional aspects of a moment or scene, hinting at a larger work. Be able to create this setting you are describing in your reader’s head. Snippets of details may pique the reader’s curiosity!

Do not be verbose. Personally, I find that it is so easy to run on and on in describing something. But less is more. Do not dwell. Keep the writing concise and simple, hinting at a deeper meaning. Leave it up to the reader to fill in the gaps!

YOU hold the artistic license. The world is your oyster, and so it is up to you how you’d like to structure your vignette! Whether you’d like to leave vignettes resolved or unresolved. What setting do you want yours in? Spatially, what does it look like on the page? Do punctuation and spelling reflect the narrator’s character? I invite you to explore as I am––join me!

 

Multimodal Life

After reading Writer/Designer’s “What are Multimodal Projects?” I have come to realize how multimodal projects are constantly around us. Whether we are reading online, browsing social media on a phone, watching street signs, or even ordering

at a restaurant, multimodal projects are texts that help communicate news, rules, options, or connections–everyday life, really– in many different ways, appealing to sight, sound, gestures, written texts, and spatial modes. I have come across many examples this week, however, these are four of how I have experienced these multimodal projects in my everyday life.

I will begin by first stating how I am looking for newviolin students, here in Ann Arbor. While word of mouth may be helpful, I have decided to create my own business cards. They arrived from shipment just the other day, and when I picked them up from the post office, I was so proud! Using Vistaprint, I was able to design and choose the visual and written content of the card, purely from scratch! I designed them in a way, whereon one side of the card, my contact information is clear, professional, and visually appealing. Written is my name, addresses, email address, and phone number. On the other side of the card, “Violin” is written in big letters, in the very center. Below, is a small job description! For example, I had written “Private Lessons, Practice Mentoring, Funerals and Weddings, Church Services,” etc. I write about these because Ibelieve they include: the linguistic mode, in providing information of who I am, how I can be contacted, and my services; the visual mode, in choosing the printed pattern and color coordination behind the words, and size of the card; and the spatial mode, when deciding where to place certain information on the card. To me, it is quite amazing how a card, so simple in purpose (to hand out), requires so many different aspects to create, to hopefully grab one’s attention. In a way, this is a form of advertisement of me, and my musical abilities!

The second text I will choose, is the book I have been reading in my spare time: Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. The mode of this comedic and entertaining novel is quite obvious: linguistic. The title basically describes the very beginning of the novel, and as the story unfolds, the audience experiences the adventures of this one hundred year old man, Allan. As the audience grows comfortable with Allan, and his oddities, we begin to learn more of Allan’s earlier years in some chapters. While I am currently only halfway through the novel, this seems to be a trend: a shift back and forth, between Allan’s past, and his current escape. Jonasson does a great job in keeping the audience actively engaged in the fulfillment of Allan’s life, and even humor, through Jonasson’s ability of utilizing the spatial mode.

Instagram and Snapchat are another obvious text that I, and many other students, use. While most have quite similar purposes, they certainly have some unique modes that set them apart. For example, Snapchat’s grew in fame, based on the concept of a picture, sent to someone that disappears ‘forever.’ This form of communication exhibits the visual mode: the picture being sent, the linguistic mode: the comment sender writes in correlation to picture, and the spatial mode: the disappearance of the creation, ten seconds after the receiver has opened the ‘snap.’ Yes, Snapchat has evolved over the years, to include the video recording feature, which allows sound (aural mode). As for Instagram, I saw a post just the other day, by @female, which I thought was a humorous comment on linguistic modes. The post was a picture of a plain white background, and the black lettering “When your ex posts a selfie and you’re like damn why’d I ever break up with them and then you see the caption and you’re like lol oh yeah” (@female). @female captioned this picture “so truee (laughing emoji).” It is mind puzzling, yet fascinating, how this post demonstrates the linguistic mode, of the worded picture, @female’s caption,  and the caption mentioned in the picture. Further, the plain picture, as well as the selfie mentioned in the picture, appeal to the visual modes. This post recieved over five thousand likes, and one hundred comments–both modes worked together to create a relatable moment.

The last one I am going to share, may be up for debate: The University of Michigan’s Football game, against SMU (45-20). As I stood in Section 31, Row B, I began to absorb and reflect how football/game cultures appeal to all five textual modes, each contributing to the University of Michigan Football game experience. The visual mode of us as Wolverines in our Stadium is simple, yet so loud: the maize and blue we wear! We scream, and shout, and cheer, and sing–all of which may be seen as an aural mode. The scoreboard has linguistic texts that tell audiences who is winning, where the plays are, what quarter it is, the time, etc. Gesturally, we clap, shake our hands and fingers in hope for a win, dance, waving our arms singing that the other team “sucks.” And we are found everywhere, throughout the stadium, (spatial mode). While all of these are seen throughout a four hour period, these five modes play a role in our main purpose as students in the Stadium: to not only intimidate the rival team, but to exude school spirit, celebrating and growing closer as Michigan Wolverines!

These were just several, among many other encounters of multimodal projects throughout my everyday life, and they all look so different! Between business cards and a football game, they differ in purpose and modal types. They are in the same time period, yet different location and publication. However, I have learned that our abilities to recognize the differences and strengthen each mode is imperative; and to later use to the best of our ability, in any aspect of life, may be something to consider.