So, I guess the G-word is actually happening soon. I can’t imagine a summer without school at the other end; a morning commute that doesn’t involve walking through the Diag and being handed flyers for acapella concerts; a nine-to-five job that doesn’t involve analyzing literature. But – it’s coming.
And, despite my hesitance, I know that it is time to go.
My education at the University of Michigan has been challenging and exciting; I have had a truly liberal arts schooling. I know more about contemporary politics from Political Science 300, more about women’s studies from my Human Sexuality course, more about literature from all of my various English courses as an English major – and more about writing from all of those things put together and then some.
The Minor in Writing has helped me think reflectively on how all of those liberal arts pieces fit together – adding up into the summation of my education here. Everything I have ever studied required some form of writing – and the minor has given me a reason to curate that, make sense of it, and even draw some conclusions about my writing, why I write, and how I write.
When I first began the minor, I really didn’t know what it would be about. Writing, sure, but what about it? The gateway course was a ton of fun; I loved re-purposing and re-imagining a dry, matter-of-fact academic essay into a funny New Yorker Piece then a video. I learned to expand my concept of writing to beyond the straight text of an academic piece. Writing involves hyperlinks. Involves images. Involves videos. Involves charts. Involves presentations and print and web and mobile. People complain that they stop writing after they take their last English course – but I disagree. We are constantly writing (hello, email? Twitter?!) and thinking creatively…it just isn’t in the form we are used to. And that’s okay.
I also learned about the importance of concision. Less is more. Especially when writing for an online space, I learned how to accommodate for Internet readers. Short paragraphs, headlines, and media all help make a piece of writing more effective in a digital space – but also have high-impact but short sentences and phrases (rather than long ones) are key.
In English 325 and 425, I found out why I really love to write. Personal essay writing is so fun because the writer has such stake in the product. The story is yours to tell – so you want it to be told in the best way possible. It was during these two workshop-style classes that I really came to understand the importance of revision and of sharing my work with other readers.
Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Instead, it is a shared experience (both the writing and the sharing of the final product). People interpret things in different ways, and it is exciting to know that something I write can leave my brain and enter someone else’s and come to mean something different and unique to that reader based on the experiences they bring to their reading.
Even at a sentence level, people read things differently. In my essay titled “A Day at the Fair,” people in my workshop read the first line: “I am an imposter in a blazer from eighth grade” to mean I am an imposter from eighth grade in a blazer (rather than how I meant it – that I felt like an imposter at the career fair because I was wearing an old blazer from eighth grade that I have had for years). I never would have realized this other reading had it not been for workshop and for sharing this piece with so many other fresh pairs of eyes before revising.
I have also learned a ton from helping others with their revision. As an objective reader, I am able to catch grammar mistakes and logical errors that I would not have been able to see in my own work because I am too close to it. I am also able to pick up on style moves and writing techniques that others are trying out. Not to mention, I have been able to read some really moving personal essays that have allowed me to walk around in someone else’s skin, and shown me a little more about the human condition.
I love writing – I love stringing words together, making meaning from meaningless characters on a computer screen, and sharing with others. And for all of the collaborative efforts encouraged by the Minor in Writing, I am thankful. I have so enjoyed the minor in writing, and have learned a ton more about writing in general and writing in a digital space.
So what happens next?
For now, I am looking to take a break from the world of academia and get a job in the “Real World.” I would like to write professionally for a marketing agency and work specifically with the web. Whether it be a brand’s message for their new app or a company website, if there is a message to be said, I want to be the one to write it. To get creative. To be concise. To have an impact.
But that’s just for now.
For the future? Who knows. I would love to become a professor some day. To have an essay or two published in The New Yorker. Maybe even to write a novel. But one thing is for sure: I feel most fulfilled when I am writing and sharing my work with others. (AKA why I spent so much time on my portfolio – I love having an easy place to send people who want to read my work!)
Conclusions? There aren’t many. So much is left to the ambiguous unknown of my future. But I am excited about it – and thankful for my time as an undergraduate. I have loved every second.
Thanks to everyone (professors and peers and friends) who has helped me with my writing through this minor – I appreciate it more than you know.