Am I an Adult Yet?

Well this is it. By the last word of this post, I will be done with college.

I have started this post about 6 different times already, deleted everything, and stepped away from the computer. There is a lot of pressure to get this done – I don’t want my last assignment to be mediocre. But hey, I guess I’m graduating either way.

So with that, click here to check out my portfolio!



It took me a long time to settle on the theme, but it ended up being worth the wait. The collision theme has such a deeply personal meaning to me, which I hope showed up in a passionate way.

All of the pieces of writing I chose to include were about an internal conflict dealing with compromises in my personality or voice. This struggle is something I experience on a daily basis, but I think the combination and clashing of personality traits ultimately leads to more beautiful and nontraditional results. I hope that my portfolio is another example of that!

As I’ve matured in age, I like to believe my writing has matured as well. It has become much more open and unapologetically raw, which is scary, but I think the vulnerability has helped the work become more real. I’m super scared for you all to read my portfolio (or at least pretend to).

Quick nostalgic note:

I swear that I was just applying to be a minor in writing, and now it is all done. I truly cannot believe how much I learned. I definitely lived in ignorance about all of the ways to improve your writing and just how many ways there are to explore and experiment with new techniques. I am so grateful for the minor (and all of my professors and classmates) for giving me a safe space to do that in.

Peace out college!

Native Identity

Hey guys,

So here’s the lowdown on the project. I am trying to create my own piece of native advertising. I am also writing my senior honors thesis on the generational perceptions of native advertising, so you could call me some what of a native ad fiend. I think it is brilliant, and I am determined to be brilliant at it.

The twist to my project is that I LOVE television. I can quote almost every episode of Friends and How I Met Your Mother. I’ve dabbled in Seinfeld, King of Queens, and Will and Grace as well. But how realistic are these shows when talking about the average life of a 20-something-year-old in New York City?


So that’s my article. I am writing a journalistic piece on the average life of millennials in NYC. I want to feature several of the people I interview about their living routines and hopefully the piece will inspire people to watch more Netflix, because the lives of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe are a happy fantasy to live out.

I think my project says that despite how much I live in the world of TV, I am a realist. Unlike many journalists, I don’t find native advertising to be unethical, but rather a fascinating way to market. I enjoy when creativity has quantitative results, and to me, native advertising is an amazing blend of that, which is also similar to acknowledging the flaws in shows that I so dearly love.

I think this is the most important part of my identity that I want to showcase. I am professional, but a little quirky. I’ve always loved math and English, and as I mentioned above, I am the blend of both of those. I think my portfolio will be systematic, but with a little flair. It is also exemplified by my identity as a business student and a writing minor, which I think I will be able to sort out in the portfolio and might make nice designations for where to place things.

On one more note, I love puzzles. Seriously, I have 4 hanging in my apartment, but I ran out of space for more. I think it is important to remember that there is always a bigger picture, and I want to incorporate that into my portfolio as well. I might be able to make a theme out of puzzle pieces so it all fits together nicely.

In my previous “Why I Write” essay, I wrote about how I originally liked to write because I like to read. I collect first-editions of classic novels and my goal is to read through the entire Gilmore Girls Reading List (it has over 300 books on it), once again proving that my addiction to TV is real.  Another potential theme for my portfolio would be to incorporate my love of reading. I even have a puzzle hanging on my wall of book covers….SEE?!



However, I worry that I have too many different sides of my identity to incorporate into one portfolio, so I need to narrow it down based on audience. Hopefully, potentially employers can see it as a successful marriage of both media and business and understand why that’s a field I’m so interested in pursuing.

For those of you who know me (or know enough), feel free to let me know your thoughts on how I can incorporate my identity into my portfolio! Thanks!

Environmental Impact

Well, it’s finally Capstone time. Now I get to reflect on my writing progress throughout the past three and a half years, and I must admit that I’m finding it to be an extremely daunting task. But first: hey guys, I’m Amy. I’m a business major, I’m from just outside of Atlanta, and I’m likely to reference a lot of TV shows in my posts.

Reflection time. I belong to a laundry list of different writing communities, and I had a hard enough time picking two to write about here. I’m choosing to talk about two very specific writing classes, because I spent a significant amount of time invested in each of them, as opposed to my generic communities of business writing, magazine writing, etc…

The first community I want to talk about was my participation in Nick Harp’s English 325 class, creative nonfiction. Nick prefaced the class by saying he does not give out a lot of A’s and this class wasn’t for people whose feelings were hurt by a B. I knew the expectations were high, and that I would have to bring it. This was my favorite class in my 3.5 years of college, and it taught me more about myself and the human experience than I ever thought a class could. I had the freedom to write essays about my difficult grasp on the concept of having a home, a tumultuous and toxic relationship, and my often amusing struggles with OCD and being a type-A control freak. This class pushed my limits and forced me to gain feedback from peers (a practice I typically ignore as I prefer to write assignments the night before they are due). With the freedom to explore different mediums, structures, and tone, I became vulnerable, embarrassed, and likely a better writer for it.

The other community of writers I participated in was that of the students of Linguistics 340, an upper level writing requirement. I’m going to preface this by saying I only took this as an ULWR because I needed it for the minor and Ross doesn’t offer any ULWR courses. By some stroke of fate freshman year, I ended up in a freshman seminar on linguistics, which was all I needed as a pre-req for this class. Here’s the thing: I hated this class and it’s going to come across as I talk about it, and I apologize in advance for my negative bias. So this class was about sociolinguistics, and it wasn’t until after the drop deadline that I discovered I would have greatly benefitted from actually being a linguistics major and knowing a thing or two about the subject. The expectation on my end was to take a class with a couple research papers and call it a day. The very unclear expectation on the GSI’s end was to know minute details about the linguistics world and phonemes and all that jazz and work them into every assignment.

As an ULWR , the professors misguidedly thought we should learn about paragraph structure, smooth transitions, and the proper ways to paraphrase. Needless to say, as a group of seemingly well educated juniors and seniors, we took this to mean that the grading of the papers would be a joke. And yes, I emphasize WE, not just me. Well, the first argument paper had a prompt that gave your side of the argument in the prompt, so the assignment was literally to reiterate our book. The GSI scheduled mandatory conferences after our submissions for every student to talk about our papers and how to improve it. So here I am being a conceited student and laughing before my meeting about how stupid that was and how I’ve never received below a B+ on a paper and just waiting for her to tell me not to change a thing.

Well I failed that paper.

My arguments that I expanded to a broader sense were too broad. My creation of an example to prove my understanding of the material was stupid and I should have just used the example from the book. My use of the term “linguistics” was too liberal. Did I even understand the difference between style and variance? Why did you start with a single word? That’s not a sentence.

Fine, so linguistics class was not the place for attention grabbing intros or colorful commentary on the way environment impacts speech choices. Linguistics was the place to be an academic who sticks to facts. Linguistics was written for the audience of one professor, not for the reading pleasure of many.

It’s obvious from my tone that I preferred the community of creative nonfiction. Which to me, is still a little crazy considering I used to always have an affinity for specific assignments that could be written like a formula. Maybe Nick’s class ruined me for that type of writing, or maybe I’ve just developed a more personal voice between freshman year and that fateful linguistics class. It’s hard for me to even compare these two communities beyond being somewhat academic. To me, my experiences with both fall into contrasting adjectives. But hey, I guess they both really helped me understand how to add purpose into my work.

So here’s the thing. I wrote those awful 2000 words about how environment impacts linguistic style and variant choice, and thought it was ridiculous because no one analyzes their own speech that much. But as I sit here writing about my two communities of writing I realize: that’s exactly what I’m doing, but without my vocal chords. My different communities influence my syntax, word choice, tone, and style. I just happen to understand what those words actually mean.

The End

Oh my gosh. It’s here, it’s done, it’s terrifying. My e-portfolio is complete (for now). It has actually been done for a while , but all day I have been observing and admiring everyone else’s until I had the courage to post my own! Shocking right?  So here it is. Without further ado or introduction because I’m already terrified to hit “publish”…

Finally blogging about Maria Cotera…

… and I’ll explain why. I listened to the podcast of the interview back in February, and never found the time to write my post. I listened to the podcast again a few weeks ago when I sat down to write the blog post and realized I didn’t remember enough of what I listened to. Listening to it a second time actually turned out to be incredibly beneficial, because while I was recalling my initial thoughts on the podcast, I was also gaining more insight into Cotera’s responses.

So here we are today, actually writing the blog post. As the semester came to a close, I knew I could not simply avoid this post. I am not posting because I need more points in my gamification grid. I’m posting because although I have procrastinated to no end, I wanted to reflect on Cotera’s interview and how I relate to it as a writer and most importantly, as a student.  Well, although my memory is normally quite keen, I found myself needing a little refresher on the interview, so today I pulled up the podcast for a third time. Hearing the interview for a third time really allowed me to figure out which parts of the interview stood out and resonated most within me. These were the parts I recalled most significantly from each of the previous listenings.

Admittedly, I’m a pretty horrible female in terms of enjoying feminist discussions. I was a little skeptical of listening to a women’s studies professor and when she focused briefly on the Chicana feminist movement, I was worried the conversation would become a lecture. However, moving past the political side of it, the way Cotera described the endless boundaries of what it means to be a writer truly intrigued me. I was particularly drawn to her description of a real writer as someone holed up with a tweed jacket furiously cranking out words. I find it fascinating that while she holds onto that description, she also acknowledges that a large portion of her current writing is more based around writing many smaller projects, such as proposals for her teaching.

On that note, I’ve been thinking a lot about how she tried to teach a class where she eliminated the standard essay/paper format, and instead allowed the students to post on a blog. It’s interesting how some students still follow that intro, body, conclusion format that was drilled into all of us throughout grade school. With so many new mediums of writing, especially digital forms, I enjoy hearing about how different professors handle the shift away from the traditional essay. I know many professors ignore the possibilities of new media, so I think it helps that Cotera is a writer herself, and understands that great writing can happen in a variety of forms (even Tweeting). This especially holds true for scholarly writing as she mentioned. The way Cotera noted that no one writes a huge scholarly piece without having some major passion or opinion on the topic validated our in class discussion on how scholarly writing often avoids personal pronouns or any blatantly stated opinions. Reflecting back on it, I do think I would enjoy reading more personal scholarly pieces, but would also be skeptical to break away from the tradition of reading these types of work with an unquestioning eye based on the formal presentation of impersonal material. It would make me question authority to some extent, even if completely unjustified.

All in all, I’m glad I ultimately listened to Cotera’s interview (all three times). It allowed me to compare my own thoughts on writing and writers in general to someone who has actually experienced success and growth within the field. I actually looked at taking a course with Cotera for the upcoming semester, but unfortunately a 400 level AMCULT class did not seem like my idea of enjoyable.

To My Not-So-Empty Room…

As of late, one of my good friends has discovered that both my red pen and my door are always open for me to play editor. I have been reading a lot of his writing, mostly application essays and academic papers, and it’s actually been a really eye opening experience for me as a writer. In the past when I would edit a paper, I would simply fix the grammar and the occasional awkward phrasing. After all, it wasn’t my job to write the damn thing. However, I noticed this past week as I looked at five different papers for Austin that my style of feedback has drastically changed.

Yes, I’m still a stickler for grammar and yes, I believe that the Oxford comma should always participate in lists (and I’m happy to remind someone of that). But my commentary has switched from making sure the author maintains the same tense throughout a sentence to making sure the piece has a purpose that is clear for its audience.

All semester, I’ve been struggling with Shelley’s lamenting about “general audiences” and how difficult it is to write for them. I sat in class thinking they were the easiest to write for and that she must have been crazy…until I sat there reading Austin’s essay for an admissions officer. The first draft literally made no sense. It had nothing to do with why he wanted to be a student in Ross. Everything in his essay could be found on the Ross website, so I sat there telling him that prospective students aren’t his audience, his audience already knows why the school is great. What his audience doesn’t know is why he thinks its great and deserves to belong there. And in that one moment I understood what I should have learned from class earlier on in the semester. (Sorry Shelley if you’re reading this, but ultimately THANK YOU!)

So now that I have learned my lesson, I just have to work on implementing it. When reading Austin’s essay, I knew exactly whom his audience was. When I’m writing, I don’t usually know who I want to be writing for. I’m having this huge dilemma with my e-portfolio. I have gone back and forth on audiences for it multiple times. Just last night I changed the theme and format around four times to see if one of them would spark any brilliant ideas. Did the professional formats make me want to make my portfolio for potential employers? No. Did the funky formats make me want to write for just my peers? No. None of the formats seemed to fit exactly what I want. I’m too formal to write for just my peers in a fun and uninhibited way, but I’m too quirky to keep my page completely professional. I’m struggling to pick just one, but I also don’t know how to write for both. It’s like speaking to an empty room: I can say whatever I want, but if the right people aren’t there to hear it, it won’t matter at all.


from Google Images
from Google Images

Based on our class discussion, I know I’m not the only one having this constant debate over audience. However, now that I so blatantly learned my lesson on audience, I feel obligated to create the perfect portfolio for the perfect audience so I don’t cause that awful sense of confusion I felt whilst reading Austin’s first draft. (Oh also, by the way his essay was actually really great, it just had the wrong purpose, which is the part that scared me most. Even great writing can end up horribly misplaced.)

The best part about this blog (well at least in my opinion) is that my audience is pretty explicitly defined as the rest of you minor students dealing with this same nonsense. It makes me feel like these complaints are completely justified and shared, sooo thanks for reading about all of my struggles! Best of luck if you all have the same ones!

Could I BE any Snarkier?

Since declaring my minor in writing, something has happened to me. All of my priorities seem to have changed, and I can’t decide if it’s for the better or not, but there has definitely been a shift in my goals. Previously, when I got asked about my career field ambitions, I would simply answer “something in marketing.” However, now my answer includes a caveat about working for a publishing house or a magazine or a newspaper on the business side. And yes, part of this recent addiction comes from my obsessive watching of Gilmore Girls reruns. Perhaps I’ll become the next Mitchum Huntzberger…with less of an attitude. But I’ve been drawn into the world of writing, and I know I do not want to leave it.

Mitchum Huntzberger at the Yale Daily News
Mitchum Huntzberger at the Yale Daily News

In the past month, I’ve joined the writing staff of a campus magazine and I recently applied to become an undergraduate editor of a major international business journal (fingers crossed I get accepted!) I’m just fascinated to delve deeper into literary worlds, although ironically my own writing is always one of my biggest struggles and certainly my most procrastinated task.

I think one of the reasons for this  is a lack of confidence in my own writing. As Jack in Burlesque (sorry for all the video references in this post…it’s obvious I spent a bit of time doing nothing over Spring Break. Hopefully you all also caught the Friends reference to Chandler in my title…) constantly claims about his music, “it’s not ready yet,” I feel the same sentiment with all of my writing. I’m a perfectionist, and until I can feel like the next Bronte, my works shall stay under wraps. I guess in most cases it’s just easier to claim you aren’t proud of your work in case everyone else thinks it sucks. It’s still so new to me to write anything for the entire world to see rather than just a professor.

On this note, exploring writing in a tone and voice other than professional and detached for research papers is a scary task, and it’s definitely something I have been struggling with. Anyone who has read my blog posts or articles or even spoken to me for more than two seconds knows that I exude sarcasm. Normally I’m proud of that voice, and I personally think it’s more entertaining to read (and I certainly find it more entertaining to write), but lately I’ve wanted to explore other tones and moods, rather than just a lighthearted or flippant tone.

My biggest struggle is finding a way to incorporate that sassy voice of mine in a toned down way fitting for other types of media. I do not want to eliminate my voice, because after all that’s who I am, but I know I need to find that balance between entertaining and serious, biting and understanding.

I gravitate towards the two types of writing I’m comfortable with: technical papers and opinionated pieces. But I have not spent enough time in the world of writing to know what other types of pieces I would like to attempt. I think fiction could be interesting, but not really appropriate for most classes (except this one). I like to write amusing little rhyming poems for my friends, but the thought of attempting actual poetry seems unreasonably daunting. I don’t even understand most poetry, so who am I to write about something I don’t know? Does anyone have any ideas on how I can expand my horizons while also keeping my personality in tact?

Technologically Inefficient E-Porfolio Struggles

In my Why I Write essay, I made a point to comment on how my goal for my writing is that the essence of each piece is inherently “me.” Always being 100% real and authentic within my own personality is a driving part of all my actions, and I know that I want my e-portfolio to act as a web version of myself. Based on this, presenting myself as a writer is very much just presenting myself. My e-portfolio will embody me in both design and content. I want it to be polished, but quirky. I want my portfolio to be appropriate for a myriad of audiences; it should be interesting and fun enough for my peers, but unique and professional enough for any businesses. I would ideally like to include a link to my eportfolio on my resume, as I think it could really set me apart from the usual influx of financially oriented resumes thrust at companies.

In terms of design, I’m a little worried about the creation of my portfolio. Technology and I are very serious frenemies. I try to utilize it as best I can in all types of ways, but it just never seems to listen to me. I’m hoping this won’t be a major roadblock in a project that should focus far more on the content of my page. But alas, being online makes the proper presentation of the content a very personally challenging task. So we shall see. In terms of interactivity and media, I do think I want to incorporate a Twitter feed, as the majority of my tweets are inspired by strange observations around me. (They also inspire my most snarky and clever comments). I’m very torn on including sound in my portfolio, as my personal love of indie and country genres would make for a soothing soundtrack to readers, unless of course my readers simply mute it like I do on 98% of websites. I do not foresee much inclusion of video on my page, unless of course it relates to my re-mediation project. Images will play both a personal role and a visual interest role. I would like to include personal pictures of mine as they fit into any pieces or backgrounds, but I would also like to include more general clip art into my old pieces and papers to avoid any “walls of text” from happening.

It’s really daunting at this moment to plan an entire theme for my portfolio. I know I would like it to be extremely cohesive (especially in layout), but I’m not sure how to create one single thesis through the use of many different pieces of writing. I guess as long as each piece truly represents myself, the theme can simply be “Amy Derene.” Is that a little selfish? I want my readers to have an enjoyable experience, but I find self-presentation in this project to be more important than appeasing everyone. The hardest part about my determination to stick to my guns and my own personality in this portfolio is my lack of self-reflective pieces. I’ve only ever written for academia, although I’m excited about the prospect of maybe creating something special just for my portfolio.

So I know I only answered about three of the questions on the eportfolio prompt, but if I were to tackle them all right now, 1) this post would obscenely long and 2) then I would feel overly committed to a plan. I’m looking forward to the prospect of exploring all the different directions I can take my portfolio, and one of the most exciting parts is waiting to see how it turns out.

My (P)Reflection

With my initial thoughts for this repurposing project came initial emotions of fear and initial feelings of stress. There seemed to be nothing in the recent past that I had written with either interest or pride. My papers for class have consisted of deep analyses of books, research on writing systems, and executive summaries on effective business strategies. None seemed to be remotely interesting to any other audience other than the professor who assigned such a topic (and even to them probably, these pieces of writing seemed quite dull). I don’t write for a paper or magazine, so I have no recent articles, and creative writing would require far more free time.

So after days of agonizing about this project (I mean I seriously considered creating a new piece of writing just to have something interesting to re-purpose), I decided on two potential pieces. One was 5-page analysis of the portrayals of Hamlet’s Ophelia in various depictions of the play as compared to the text. I was going to attempt to turn this into some kind of college-female driven piece about women’s portrayals of sexuality both in media and in actuality.

My second selection is the one I have decided to go with, and I have my peer group to thank for this. For my freshman year English 125 class we had to write a cultural analysis paper on some kind of new fad. This was the year Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was really starting to explode. Of course it had been around for a while, but it felt like this was becoming the most popular genre of music as opposed to just being popular with a very select crowd. However, in much of my research and personal observations I found a pretty decent correlation between EDM concerts and drug use. My paper was actually entitled EDM: Electronic Drugs Maybe? For those who have never attended one of these concerts, and to be honest I never have myself, pictures have led me to understand the scene as one of hypnotic light scenes and colorful (and usually scantily clad) costumes.

An EDM concert at Club Glow in Washington DC
An EDM concert at Club Glow in Washington DC

Based on this, I plan to re-purpose my cultural analysis research paper for a more fitting audience: the college population. It seems that so many of my friends are into this scene, that they could be intrigued by this study of mine. I think that since my original platform for this was just a dull paper, my new venue could be some sort of student publication or even just an unplaced article. I’m still having very serious troubles with the line between re-purposing and re-mediating, so I know there are many more ideas for this piece that I’m bound to come up with eventually. But as for now, my creativity hasn’t spanned that far. I do know however, that I would even like to interview many of my peers on the subject matter.

My purpose of this project is to bring an understanding of this music scene to those who are not necessarily a part of it. I myself do not find the music calming or enjoyable, but I do adore most other genres of music and I love any type of concert, so I think my passion for music will ultimately help me appreciate this subject matter and hopefully gain more of a respect for it.  So though I still have fear, stress, and anxiety, I also have an excitement and a level of passion to bring to this re-purposing.

Authority Isn’t Scary

So, I had originally planned to write my entire “Why I Write” essay about how I write because I read. I have always loved to read and up until the perusal (I would say reading, but I’m not so sure of that anymore) of these past few classes’ articles, I thought I was far better at reading than writing. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever read anything with as much intensity as would qualify a “good reader” as defined by Tierney and Pearson.

I was extraordinarily disappointed in myself upon the realization that I don’t stop every few paragraphs to think about what I learned, what I’m taking away from it, what the author meant, or even who the author is. Really, I became hyperaware of this halfway through the readings for the week. Let’s face it…these articles were LONG. We have a lot of reading, and checking off completing each article from a to-do list feels far more instantly satisfying than understanding and relating to each paragraph of an article. I am so unbelievably guilty of merely surface reading for all academic articles that I can’t even pretend to be ashamed. It’s simply a fact.

That being said, it has always worked out for me. Especially when translating these readings into writings. I’ve gotten As on all college papers that ask for responses or analyses to a group of readings. From 5 pages about Hamlet (which I really did try to read closely, but I will never understand Shakespeare) to 9 pages about the origins in writing in Mesopotamia, I’ve proudly maintained my title as Master Bullshitter.

However, upon rereading these articles and thinking back about these own miraculous bullshitting tactics, they may not be bullshit at all. Based on the Penrose and Geisler reading, I feel a little bit redeemed. These tactics I thought simply added fluff to my paper, may actually have been an asset this whole time. I was taught in high school to relay facts. I was taught to write like Janet. First person and my own opinions and conclusions have no place in research papers. I lack the “authority.”

Fortunately (well…sometimes) for me, I’m an opinionated person and I cannot help but insert my own notions and conclusions into my papers. Therefore, if Penrose and Geisler’s claim about Roger’s more effective and mature approach to writing is in fact correct, I feel as though I’m actually doing something right. The part that baffles me the most though, is that, as I mentioned before, I do not read “effectively”.  This makes me stop to question the true relation between strong reading and writing. I want to believe that this correlation exists. As both an avid reader and writer, I do think they go hand in hand. But I find that reading more strongly influences my decisions in terms of word choice, syntax, genre, and format than my opinions on a topic. Now this could be due to my serious authority issues, making me an anomaly, or it could be a major flaw in the studies most recently performed on the link between reading and writing.

I attribute a large part of the confusion of the correlation between reading and writing to the schism between the teachings of these two practices in school. We are taught to read to comprehend the basics and we are taught to write to relay information. Well, at least I was. I can’t speak for students in any other schools in any other part of the country, so as a born and raised Georgia girl, I know that my early education placed very little focus on these two practices. This lack of a uniform understanding of what passes as effective reading or authoritative writing will forever make this an extremely difficult correlation to study. However, speaking solely on my own behalf, the guilt of my lame surface reading tactics have forced me to reconsider my success, and I plan to implement stronger tactics to my future academic readings. Tierney, Pearson, Penrose, and Geisler can sleep well knowing they have stirred up a vicious internal debate with this one reader.