Final Goodbye? – Challenge Journal #4

As we are already at the final countdown to graduation, I am having a hard time accepting that my capstone project could bethe final goodbye to Ross, the Writing community, and the Michigan community as a whole. Does this capstone project mean that I am not going to be doing another project ever again? How do I say in the future that I am writing because [I am writing for a class], [I have a paper due] or [I need to submit a short response]? What does writing mean for me and all of us graduating seniors after school? 

In Gateway, I had shared with Ray and my cohort that I wanted to own a blog, and use that space to write whatever I want, and share it with the rest of the world, perhaps stemming from the intrinsic motivation to seek some validation and praise – but who doesn’t like praise? With the newfound writer identity that I discovered quite recently, I felt that it would be under-utilized if I wouldn’t have a blog. I am jumping too far ahead – I don’t even have a blog! But today, I want to revise that statement and say – I don’t have a blog yet.

That statement makes me wonder if writing after school means that you take ownership and responsibility for defining your own assignments? Does it mean that you set your own deadlines and your own goals, and not because your professor or GSI wants it in a certain way? If this is all true, it certainly sounds difficult, but I don’t think its impossible. Personally, I just know that I need to find the true purpose of putting my writing out there to the world and creating a difference. More importantly, I need to find out why I want to write this blog and what would it entail that can create an enriching experience for my readers. And when I do, I will surely share it here on the Minor in Writing blog! 

Until then, adios folks. 

Mid-semester Crisis! – Challenge Journal #3

Oh my god. We are so close to the due date for our project and there could be nothing more stressful than the fact that I need to get so much done within the next 6 or 7 weeks. AHHHHH!

Clearly, this capstone project has taken a toll on my overthinking capacity. As I think about the website, the introduction, the podcasts, the reflection – SO MANY PARTS; the more I find myself asking myself: “Am I making the right choices?” 

I still remember in Gateway how Ray had told my class that we all will be making some incredible choices when it comes to developing the website, some choices that may seem usual to us – such as colors, layout, structure. Surprisingly, I wasn’t this stressed about my Gateway project as I am now. (Or I just don’t remember being so stressed…?)

Anyhow, I need to time and again remind myself that I need to believe in my project and in the topics that I want to share with everyone else in this whole world. More than the project being about ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ it will be unique in its own way. I just need to pull myself together and develop some tangible, concrete content that SHOWS me my project than just TELLS me. (oh well, I have the showing, not telling writing mantra here!)

On a brighter note, I have found subjects who are willing to be interviewed and open themselves through conversations around beauty standards – which can lead to some triggering content. I have been successful in drafting up my own personal reflections (on the topics) which haven’t been terrible so far. I am interviewing one of my interviewees next week!

With such small successes in place, I feel better about the progress but still the questions linger: What if this goes terribly wrong? What if this doesn’t turn out the way I want it to? 

Do you identify as a writer? – Challenge Journal #2

I was motivated to reflect upon myself as a writer, an identity that I have struggled to come to terms with. While I have had the opportunity to develop my writing skills every year over my undergraduate career, it took me a long time to finally call myself a writer. When I look back at my Gateway project, I cannot possibly think of what caused me to choose the topic of love and flowers, and make a full-fledged project about it. Today, it sounds so abstract to me, and I believe that perhaps three years later, I might find my Capstone project weird. This fear has stuck with me but I cannot possibly hold onto it forever, right? If that would have been the case, I would have never finished my coursework or my Gateway project for that matter. 

It is very rare that I give credit to myself for writing a good piece, and I think that creditability increased a little bit last semester when I was enrolled in English 325: Art of the Essay. At first, I absolutely hated that class for I had no idea what we were even doing, how were the assignments graded, and why did we read the readings that we had to read as they were all so new to me. I was almost about to drop out of that course, but I stuck through, and after I turned in the first essay, I absolutely fell in love with the class. I understood that the professor’s teaching philosophy was not to tell, but rather showus how to write, tell, convey our stories with the audience out there. 

To be fair, this is when I truly recognized myself as a writer, and came to believe that I can at leastwrite, even though I am not sure if it is “good.” This course solidified my to-go writing advice: “show, don’t tell,” and this is what I faithfully abide my whenever I sit down to write. Last semester, truly, was a push outside of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed it so much. I recognized that there were tiny instances in my life that I had overlooked but were extremely influential in my personality, perspective, and purview of everything around me, and those built my confidence as a writer that I am today. 

With that, I am ready to challenge myself even more with the Capstone project and beyond, and enjoy the ride as it goes! 

Writing Rituals – Thesis??

For the longest time that I can remember, I have always been a planner, and with that an overthinker. Whether it be planning just for a random weekday evening, or even something which is ten years down the road, I am always thinking, planning, and making decisions to satisfy the time that I sort of have to fill in and convince myself of planning something. For example, I already know where I want to have my big fat Indian wedding (hint: Dubai) – so so crazy right?? I am always thinking and planning and planning and thinking. I live by and love Google Calendar as it keeps my life so organized with the many different colors on my screen blocking my time for various occasions, events, classes, and even silly reminders such as “Print readings for class.” Being a plan-freak and always having the urge to know everything has indeed affected the ways how I write. 

One starting point that I invariably begin my writing with is having an idea, and more particularly, developing the thesis statement for my essay or my piece of writing. I have been in several writing courses where a thesis statement isn’t necessary but I still have developed them as they guide me through writing the rest of the paper. Having concrete ideas set in one or two sentences up front on my Word document help me focus into meeting the “prompts” of my thesis statement(s). While this does sound like a restriction, I often fear that I wouldn’t have the “right” or “correct” thesis which shall make my paper less compelling, or not meeting the writing prompts. 

My need, more like want, to know everything in advance leads to this subconscious ritual of setting up the thesis statement(s) and using that as an overarching theme of my piece of writing. I want to believe that it is a good strategy, but I also know that it doesn’t work in all cases. This semester, as I work on the capstone project, I want to make an effort to shift from being so rigid in action plans to using the large plethora of opportunities to add flavor and change up certain aspects that could spice up my final project! What are some of the strategies you have when you begin writing?

Making of the Final Project

As this semester comes to a close, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about the making of my final project. This project has been unique, challenging, and has made me much more assured of my internal feelings and emotions. I have had the opportunity to explore different media and platforms over the past 15 weeks that have expanded my knowledge and added to my skill-set. Following different platforms and authors has also expanded my understanding and reading on different themes, either current events or generic themes that have improved the way how I approach and perceive writing. My Final Project is a mix of my personal emotions, thoughts, pictures, videos, and generic information. I do have an idea about how I want my final project to look like, to be more than creatively attractive and appealing to my audience – a deep insight into my emotions and personal reflections.

Following an author: Jia Tolentino

This week, I came across the most recent article of December 4th issue, titled ‘Where Millennials Come From” by Jia Tolentino. I had stopped following her for a while since I last read her articles, however, she published in The New Yorker almost after a month. This article is almost an accurate representation of the Millennial generation that effectively discusses their personality, behavior, and actions. Style wise, I really liked how she always brings in informative research and analysis to the claims that she makes, increasing her credibility. For example, she says that “...But the popular image of this generation—given its name, in 1987, by William Strauss and Neil Howe—has long been connected with the notion of disruptive self-interest.” which is supported by this research, “Over the past decade, that connection has been codified by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, who writes about those younger than herself with an air of pragmatic evenhandedness and an undercurrent of moral alarm.” While making my final project, I would like to use some of her techniques which refines the quality and provides easy readability of the material presented.

I also liked how she brings in personal, past experiences when she talks about herself as a millennial and how she thought about certain things in certain ways. I think that the right balance between information and personal narrative is a good tactic to gain trust from the readers. Content wise, I think that she makes valuable points about Millennials which are true in most instances and have almost been “accepted” in the society. As a university student, she talks about “debt-free students” which I could personally relate myself to. Nonetheless, she also touches upon certain political and policy framework affecting millennials for they are the faces of tomorrow.

Article link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/04/where-millennials-come-from

Following an author: Sheelah Kolhatkar (2)

For the past several weeks, there have been several sexual harassment cases and the one involving Harvey Weinstein has shook not only the entertainment and media industries, but also brings Silicon Valley and Wall Street being questioned about the vast majority of such issues. Following from my last blog post, I decided to follow Sheelah Kolhatkar, and saw her article titled “What Hollywood Could Learn from Wall Street’s Sexual-Harassment Reckoning,” which highlights Wall Street’s history and how over the years, things have not really improved as most people would imagine so. I really liked the organization of her article since she seems to always start with one specific person’s experiences that links it with the main purpose of her article. She also likes bringing in several other references and perspectives which enhances her credibility and trustworthiness. From the content point of view, I was still amazed to see how women historically have been harassed in the competitive world at Wall Street, and how Human Resources till date continues to shun such cases away since it doesn’t fit their “company policies.” Through her choice of brief vocabulary, she effectively conveys clear messages of the “dominoes” effect of sexual harassment – unequal pay, suppressed environment, and private arbitration. Lastly, I find her one-two sentences confusion powerfully moving and effective, since she always leaves her readers with an important thought for the future.

Article: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-hollywood-could-learn-from-wall-streets-sexual-harassment-reckoning

Following an author: Sheelah Kolhatkar

I came across this most recent article in the November 20th issue of the New Yorker titled, “The Tech Industry’s Gender Discrimination Problem,” by Sheelah Kolhatkar. While this article is super lengthy, it strongly speaks to my personal interests and course of study. Being a business student, I have had two of my classes strongly discuss sexual harassment from both an organizational and a legal standpoint. Further, the most recent news scandals have furthered the urgency to discuss these issues. I really liked this article as she strongly brings in different perspectives from women who may have been victims or close to victims of such unethical and inhumane instances. She brings in stories of employees at Tesla, Uber, Google, McKinsey and the many other large tech corporations where such issues have such growing prevalence. She also touches on the history of sexual harassment which is helpful in providing context to readers. Content wise, I really liked the different company cultures that she highlights in this piece and from a writing perspective, I really liked the organization of her piece. She starts out with a story, moves into historical data, and touches on the recent instances since 2014 to present. This “timeline” approach is very helpful in user readability and retention. Overall, she keeps her readers engaged throughout her pieces due to her comparisons and contrasts between the past and the present.

Following an author: Kathryn Schulz

In the November 6th issue, Kathryn Schulz published an interesting article titled “Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them.” In this article, she talks about the various different “beasts” and fanatical characters that the movie industry has created and how they influence and impact the human psyches. This article drew attraction to me since I was following her earlier and wanted to read more on what she believes that “supernatural creatures could do” in our lives. I found this piece more scientific and technical since she uses vocabulary that is so specific to explain the human relations to mermaids, beasts, unicorns etc. She is both informative when she touches on both the magical elements present in movies and media, and is personalized when she gives her personal opinion about physics playing a role in human mind tricks.

Characterizing tones

My experiments so far have talked about one basic element i.e. flowers influencing feelings and emotions of love and romance amongst different individuals. I used one element to lead towards talking about an overarching idea of love and romance in relationships and then led to their symbolism and meanings in traditional Hindu weddings.

My first experiment was a personal narrative where I discussed my personal connections with the element ‘flowers.’ I talked about my personal relationship and explored how different people might perceive flowers differently when they talked about it. The tone was a personal, neutral voice, coming out as a 20-year-old sharing her personal opinions and outlook to the world. I wanted to be informational as well, in the sense that I am informing people of my views, and opinions.

My second experiment was of a different genre but continued building off the first experiment. This was a conversational interview with one of my friends who is from an entirely different culture and grew up with different philosophies. This tone was more informal and casual since I presented this experiment as a conversational transcript with dialogues exchanged between me and my friend. It was also respectful since I did not want to offend my friend in any manner or sound intrusive.

For my third experiment, I am planning to twist ideas from the two experiments thus far. I am starting out with an overarching idea of love and romance and then talking about the materialistic and non-materialistic aspects of flowers and digital messages respectively in influencing and building love and romance in relationships. The tone of this experiment would be primarily informational and informal since I do plan to incorporate a video/audio recording. Else, it would be more personalized (as in my personal opinion) that could bring some biases to the readers. I want to then close with a general overview of how these elements can play a specific role in Hindu weddings and shape longevity of relationships.