How is this already my 4th blog post?

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When I started developing this project I had a very clear vision: it would be divided into 3 parts (my intro, works I’ve used as inspiration, and my own work) and that would be it. But, as with pretty much everything in life, thing’s didn’t quite go as planned.

I started writing my introductory piece, but something felt off. I realized that in order to talk about the things I had outlined, I actually had to go back further – I couldn’t just talk about writing commercial storylines on long car rides without talking about the ad that ever inspired me to start writing them in the first place, and I definitely couldn’t talk about the significance of that ad in my life without giving deeper context. In short, I ended up writing a lot more than I expected.

Even more surprising, this project, which was originally pretty straight forward and relatively dry, has completely taken a new form. Rather than having three distinct yet related parts, I think I’m going to write one long personal essay in which all of the elements I wanted to touch on flow into each other. I’m still going to include a section which showcases my work, but I’ve realized that I want to put a greater emphasis on this personal essay.

I really have to thank Eva for this revelation; she shared her course pack with me from a previous writing class, and suggested I read a work called “Confluences.” I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the author’s writing, and was inspired to rewrite my original piece. While my first draft was fairly dry and filled with cliches — something I’m really striving to overcome in my writing — my second draft is a piece I am much more proud of. Although it’s unfinished, I feel reinvigorated about my project, and am excited to see where it goes as I read more works from the course pack. Thank you again, Eva.

Additionally, I have to thank Sydni for her advice today because she helped me imagine what my final site will actually look like. The issue with my project, since I’m only planning to write out the storylines rather than produce them, is that there aren’t a ton of opportunities for me to include pictures or artwork. I am planning to imbed the video that inspired me to start writing, and I’m going to hyperlink any other videos I mention as well, but beyond that I was worried my page would seem pretty bland. Sydni suggested, however, that I include images of my work over the years. Even if these are pictures of abandoned projects or scribbled notes, it would be interesting to see my progression over time, and would provide the visual element I feared I would lack.

Beyond that, I don’t really have any more updates, but I’m interested to see how my project continues to change over the next couple of weeks.

P.S. I know the images I’ve been including in these posts may seem random, but I’ve just picked a couple of the ones I’ve stumbled upon through my research that I thought were interesting, so hopefully you guys appreciate them too.

Yet Another Blog Post

Retrieved from: The Inspiration Room

I’m back…again! I’m starting to think that I’m using these blog posts as an excuse to avoid working on my actual project but it’s fine, everything’s fine. We’ll get there one day…

I actually really need some help right now – as I’m starting to think about (finally) writing the storylines for my own ads, I’m stuck on what to write about, so I need some inspiration. I’m definitely going to include the car mats commercial I told you guys about in class, and I have a few others in the back of my mind, but I’d really love some other suggestions. I know originally I said I was going to pick obscure objects that aren’t typically the center of marketing/advertising materials (i.e. paper bags or paper clips), but I’m willing to broaden my focus.

Zach and Sydni gave me some really great suggestions yesterday like Q-tips or straws — thank you again — but I’d really love some more! Or, if you’ve seen an ad that you really liked (or didn’t like), I’d love to hear / see those too because it’s really useful for my research and inspiration.

So What Now?

Since my meeting with T, I’ve been considering completely revamping my project. Originally, my pitch to pursue making a poetry book was more of a “filler” in my mind; although I would’ve considered doing it, there were other ideas I was considering more seriously. After T’s encouragement though, I began thinking about what it would be like to actually write a short poetry book, and now I can’t get it out of my mind. Although I still like the commercial idea I was originally going off of, someone made a point in our small group discussion today that this may be one of the last times in my life where I’m given the opportunity to pursue this long-ignored dream. T also brought me book today, Premonitions, which is a poetry book by Elizabeth Schmuhl; this really inspired me and got me thinking about what it would be like to write my own poetry book. My biggest issue, however, is that I’m not sure which type of poetry I would want to pursue. On one hand, I’m considering working off of my small collection of poems, “1997,” which I submitted to the Hopwood Writing Contest sophomore year, but there isn’t really a focus to these poems, so I’m not sure what the purpose or audience would be. Additionally, I’ve considered writing a poetry book about my relationship with my mom, but I’m not sure I would be ready to share that kind of private work. Basically, I’m really stuck right now and confused as to which idea I should pursue, so if anyone has any suggestions — mainly whether I should stick with my old idea or go with a new one — I’d love your feedback.

Project Pitch: Advertising Storylines

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Today’s pitching session was definitely more challenging that I expected; it was one thing to write all my ideas down on paper, but it was an entirely new experience trying to verbalize them to my peers. Part of the problem, I think, was because I wasn’t fully sold on any of my ideas myself. Of course, at the time they were conceived, I thought they were interesting, but the more I tried to plan their actual execution, the more I began to second guess myself. This isn’t a new feeling, however; I think any writer can sympathize with me when I say that the more you try to write, the harder it gets.

Beyond questioning my production plan, I was primarily concerned that other people wouldn’t find my ideas interesting enough. For this reason, I was shocked by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support I received after sharing, specifically towards my commercial-based idea. To be honest, I was completely winging it on that idea; writing storylines for commercials and advertisements has always been a hobby of mine, but I never thought anyone would actually hear my ideas unless I was asked to pitch them in an interview.

Moreover, hearing everyone’s feedback reinvigorated my excitement about this project, and made me feel significantly more confident in my work. It’s funny because my second idea was to write a personal narrative — which in theory should be much more difficult because it requires a great deal of honesty and vulnerability — but it was actually more nerve-racking to present my commercial pitch instead. Maybe after years of writing personal narratives (even when they were never read by others) I’ve subconsciously become more comfortable and confident in that style of writing, even when I’ve written about things that are not so comfortable. It’s a weird paradigm to process.

Anyway, I’m really excited about pursuing my commercial idea further and to continue receiving feedback from the class; it’s amazing how just a few moments of conversation can spark so many new ideas. It’s hard to explain, but usually when I’m creating these storylines in the car I get tunnel vision almost — the adrenaline induced by my sudden influx of creativity blocks out everything else and I’m completely zoned in on creating the perfect pitch. By the end, I feel almost high with excitement, imagining it playing out on a big screen, and that same rush is exactly what I felt leaving class. I’m shocked because my parents and siblings have heard so many of these they’re almost numb to them, but to be encouraged by people who aren’t required to support me / tell me my ideas are good is an incredibly exciting feeling, so I can’t wait to see how this project turns out.

A Semester in Review

Being accepted into the Minor in Writing program was so exciting, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. I remember coming to class the first day worrying about how intense the program, and my instructor, would be. I can honestly say this class (and the minor) surpassed my expectations, and has only assured me that this is the right direction for me. While I’ve probably done more revisions in the past 3 months than I have in my entire life, I’ve loved every second of it, and truly believe that I am progressing as a writer. One thing Ray said to us that has really stuck with me is that every year we grow. Senior year we wrote English essays that we thought were incredible, only to turn around freshman year of college and think “dear god, how did I ever put my name on that?” Then freshman year we wrote even more essays and thought we had nearly perfected our writing capabilities, only to realize sophomore year that we hated what we produced the year before. The cycle goes on. This really stood out to me because, while I’ve never recognized it, the pattern is true, and it was comforting to know that everyone, even people writing dissertations and working towards their doctorates, feel the same way. This realization has encouraged me to use every year as a stepping stone; although I will never think my work is perfect, it will always be better than whatever I wrote the year before, and that’s a really exciting and encouraging fact to recognize. In this way, I could probably spend years working on my site and never be truly satisfied, but what I’ve produced this year is definitely way better than what I’ve produced in years prior, and I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer. I’m excited to see what my future in this program (and beyond) will look like.

Project Update: Content

This project has been incredibly fun, but incredibly challenging for me. The number of times I’ve written, re-written, and re-written AGAIN is almost ridiculous. It’s not that I think my original work was bad, but I keep thinking of new ways to present my ideas, and mastering my intended tone has been difficult. My original pieces felt too forced in terms of comedic content, and my revisions felt too sterile. It’s taken a lot of time, but I think I’m finally achieving the tone I was looking for. The only way I’ve been able to achieve this is to think of my blog as a conversation between friends (almost as if I’m texting one of my friends about how I’m feeling). Obviously, this isn’t exactly how the piece comes off because I had to “dress it up” a bit (make it slightly more formal to appear credible), but it’s really helped my find MY voice. As I’ve said in my previous experiment reflections, personal writing, especially personal writing with satirical elements, is really challenging for me because I’ve dedicated years to writing and perfecting formal papers, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I don’t think I’ll ever consider the work I produce (both on this site and otherwise) perfect, but I am really happy with how things have turned out.

Designing My Site: Image Selection

I knew from the beginning that the visual component of my project would be incredibly important, but I was never exactly sure of the direction I would take. Honestly, the design of my homepage started as somewhat of a joke: a placeholder until I could think of something better. Interestingly enough, I ended up really liking what I had created (the engagement ring & storm cloud backdrop) because it gave my site the sense of lightheartedness I was aiming for. Obviously this topic is important to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent the entire semester writing about it, but I also never wanted to appear judgmental or preachy, so I knew that implementing some form of comic relief (not sure if that term applies here, but I’m going with it) to encourage readers to see my posts as conversational, as if talking to a friend, instead of as a list of criticisms and instructions on how people should behave. Because I decided to keep my mock-up home page, I started playing around with a black and white color scheme. As you can see on my sight, there are pops of color, but for the most part I maintained a grey-ish hue throughout my pages. This can be seen particularly well in the images I selected for my blog posts, which are all black and white. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was the direction I’d be going in because it was only by chance that the first two images I selected were black and white, but as I continued designing my page, I realized I really liked the aesthetic I had created. This was also very easy to maintain because if I found a picture I wanted to use that was in color (like the digital clock for my “Ru up?” blog post), I simply converted it to black and white; an incredible quick and simple fix! In terms of my images’ content, they’re all pretty self-explanatory because they all reflect exactly what my blog post is about (i.e. my post about Snapchat has a picture of the Snapchat logo). The only post that was a little difficult to find an image for was “Thing (n)…,” but I got really lucky and found an image I loved when scrolling through my Instagram feed one day. Not only did I love the message by itself, but it also fit perfectly with my content! Additionally, there was one image that was incredible important to me to include: my grandparents’ wedding photo. My grandmother was actually the one who inspired me to write about this topic. Every Tuesday we would talk on the phone, and every week she would ask me “so are you dating anyone??” (as Italian grandmothers tend to do). I would always laugh and tell her that dating these days isn’t what it was when she was growing up, and she would always say “well when you find a guy as great as your grandfather, keep him.” My grandparents loved each other more than any couple I’ve ever seen. They were high school sweethearts, and celebrated their 60th anniversary just a month before my grandmother passed away. She used to tell me stories about the dates they would go on, and how well he treated her, and as happy I was to hear these stories, it made me realize how different relationships are today. The best way to describe their relationship was genuine and pure, which is something I can’t say about any relationship I’ve had yet, but is something I hope to have one day. Given this extreme disparity, as well as my desire to honor my grandmother, I knew that their wedding photo would be essential to my site, even if no one else understood the significance behind it.

Project Update

Figuring out what I wanted to do for my final project was easy, but figuring out how I want to present it on my website is much more difficult. Originally, I had built a site on Wix that displayed a collage on the home page with images relating to my subject matter. My idea was that each image would link to a different tab on which some short essay (a few paragraphs) would discuss one of the several elements of my subject (i.e. bootycalls, “things,” romance in the media, etc.). Although I like the idea of breaking my writing up into segments based on content, I decided to create an entirely new site because the first felt disorganized, and didn’t represent my tone correctly. I think on this new site I want to have the tabs displayed on the homepage so readers can pick and choose which portions they’d like to read more directly. Currently, I’m debating whether I want to keep this collage format in any way, of if I’d rather just do a series of blog posts. The blog posts feel more fitting in a way because I want the tone to be conversational and personal, and I think with the images it could come off like I’m making some sort of statement or claim about how things should work, which isn’t my intention

Formatting a Website

In my exploration into the world of site building (in which I have minimal experience), I decided, per the suggestion of my peers, that Wix would be the best resource in terms of user-friendliness and creative flexibility. Although I am not entirely set on a specific format, one thing I really enjoyed about some of the sites we explored for a previous class was the infinite-scroll format, in which sections of text were broken up by images. I worry, however, that this format will appear daunting to other users, and that they will lose interest and stop reading. I also don’t think that I want my final project to appear on the landing page, but rather on a separate tab. Another idea I had was to make my final project appear as text bubbles, as if someone was having a conversation via iMessage, which I think would be innovative and engaging, however I’m not sure how difficult it would be to execute this. These ideas are not definitive, but give some insight as to the direction I am headed.

To see my progress, feel free to check out my site

Tracking an Author (x2)

I forgot to post last week, so I am posting about two authors this week. Both of the authors I chose to track are columnists for The New York Times, which I felt was appropriate given the fact that the majority of the authors I have tracked in weeks past have been published in the NYT.

The first is Maureen Dowd, who previously worked at Time magazine and Washington Star. Although the venues in which she has been published are limited, the scope of her work is not. Despite currently being a reporter on current (and often controversial) affairs, Dowd was originally an editorial assistant turned reported who often covered sports news before moving onto metropolitan news. I thought this was interesting because it reminded me of Chuck Klosterman, an author I have tracked previously, who is/was heavily involved in the world of sports writing, and has been published in the NYT.

The second author I chose to follow is Gail Collins, a fellow NYT’s columnist who is, like Dowd, known for her liberal/progressive journalism. Unlike Dowd, however, Collins’ work has been published in/by several venues. This includes the Hartford Advocate, the Connecticut State News Bureau (an organization she founded herself), the Connecticut Business Journal, United Press International, New York Daily News, and Newsday, all before joining the NYT and becoming its first-ever female Editorial Page Editor (!!) before returning to her position as a columnist. Collins has also written several books such as When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, The Millennium Book, Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity and American Politics, America’s Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, and the introduction for The Feminine Mystique, of which I have read excerpts for one of my other classes (small world).