Boiler Plates

I consider anything on a resume, cover letter (especially) or job application to be boiler plate. Boiler plate tries to convince people of something–hence, why it is used heavily in the financial and business worlds. Anytime someone says “I am dedicated/passionate/hard-working/etc.”, I consider that boiler plate. I am incredibly guilty of boiler plating–this semester I have applied to more internships than you can ever imagine. I copy/paste cover letters and match around application question responses so I can basically say the same thing 100 times without actually saying anything, or anything new at least. I’ve told 20 companies and organizations that I am committed, ready to work and willing to do whatever work is necessary. I have been trying to convince companies to accept me as an intern–I have been guilty of boiler plating.

Look at any sports interview ever and that will give you enough examples of cliche to last you the end of time. “I love my teammates”, “all I care about is winning”, “we battled our hardest”, “we have a championship-caliber team”…No, no, no, and no. First off, LeBron, you don’t love your teammates, your body language is terrible. No, James Harden, you care about getting your numbers only. No, Dwight Howard, you didn’t give 100% effort, check the game film. And no, Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are terrible. These are just examples of things all athletes say that are so basic, vague, redundant. But, people say them because they want to avoid controversy–people don’t want to cause a stir, and can you blame them for that?

Robin Queen

Yesterday I went to the Sweetland Writers to Writers event at Literati Bookstore. The speaker at the event was Robin Queen, author and linguistics professor. I found the event very informative as Robin Queen described her new book Vox Popular and her writing process.

The thing that I learned that was most interesting to me personally was regarding Queen’s writing process. It turns out her writing process is not too dissimilar to mine! Queen talked about an app she uses on her computer called Write or Die, which encourages writing by turning the screen red after 20 seconds go by and no words are written on a document. Queen described how after 1 minute the program actually started playing the sound of a baby screaming in order to make the writer put words on the page.

When I write I like to just delve into a stream of consciousness and put as many words on the page, just like Queen (except I don’t have to endure the sound of screaming babies in doing so). It was really cool to see how a real life author uses a similar process and doesn’t just write perfectly on the first attempt. She read through a first draft of a section of her book (and while I found it amazing and worthy of final draft status), it was clear that she liked to get words down and then work and work and draft and draft to perfect those words into her ideal. She explained that her writing process was messy (as she described it “vomiting on the page”) and I feel like mine is as well; it was so encouraging to see that someone who is at the top of the writing game actually writes in the same manner I do (at least process-wise).

She also noted how she has an Internet kill switch on her computer because she cannot be productive when looking at email while writing. This is a strategy I might start using because I feel it could increase my productivity while writing.

Queen’s novel is about linguistics and she detailed how she writes to the ear and not the eye. I found this a fascinating concept because I typically write to the eye and feel like most people do as well. Yet, when I read I sound the words out in my head in my own voice, so maybe it does make more sense to write to the ear and not the eye.

Queen talked about a lot more that I found very interesting, including how her family and childhood have influenced her desires and writing style and how she determines what writing to assign to her students. The event was so interesting, in fact, it might have convinced me to start taking classes in Linguistics.

Concealing and Revealing

In class today, the word that I was thinking about during our exercise was “homie”. It’s interesting that “homie” was the first word that popped into my mind during the exercise (to be frank, I was a little disappointed in myself and my vocabulary). Not only do I think homie is a hard difficult word to describe (i.e. what makes someone a homie and what makes someone not a homie?), but it made me consider my place in the discussion of basicity and bro-ness (I think those are the terms).

Am I basic? Am I a bro? I didn’t think so when Professor McDaniel originally asked the questions, until I realized the first word that came to mind for the exercise was homie. Maybe I do fit into a stereotype, or a category of the stereotype. Anyways, it was interesting to think about on a personal level.

I think “cute” is a word that definitely conceals and reveals meaning–in essence, there is a hidden meaning to the word, a backdoor that opens up and shows the world a different side. Calling someone cute insinuates a lack of maturity–cute isn’t beautiful, or even pretty, rather it is closer to adorable. Adorable as in your 5 year old cousin adorable. Cute is supposed to be a compliment, yet often it isn’t in our vernacular today.

Sportswriting is a field that I think doesn’t get enough credit for what it is. People think of sportswriting as just writing about sports–boxscores and such. But sportswriting is culture writing. Sports reflect our culture and our values, just because they are athletic events does not mean they are insignificant and that sportswriters aren’t as sophisticated as movie reviewers or opinion writers. Sportswriters don’t receive credit for nuance, and it is unfair.

 

What I Find Interesting

I found yesterday’s class discussion particularly interesting. I had never really given a thought before to the question ‘why do you write?’ before, and I found it compelling. It’s an interesting question to me because it’s something I’ve never thought about before. Up until this part in my life, for the most part, I have written because of school. Almost all of my written work I’ve written because teachers have assigned it.

This year though, as a college sophomore, I have found that I have more freedom in my writing. I’m used to having my writing topics chosen for me by my instructor. But this year actually was the first time I had the freedom to choose what I want to write about (outside of elementary school fiction writing). Last semester, I took Academic Argumentation and worked on arguing via the written word. I was able to choose what I wanted to argue about–which was awesome in some regards (because I absolutely adore arguing), but troublesome for me in other regards (how am I supposed to choose which argument??).

I started keeping a journal last semester in what is one of the few things I have written outside of class (my older brother takes care of my parents’ birthday cards thankfully). I realized in keeping a journal why I think I write. I write because I want to keep a history of my thoughts and journeys and feelings. I write to hold memories, and these memories are massively important to me.

I find reading ‘Why I Write’ pieces interesting because they give you a wonderful entry into the author’s mind. Everyone is unique in their perspective on life and in their perspective on writing. I believe I have a perspective on writing that is reflective of not only my generation and place in time, but of the memories, thoughts and moments that make me me.

 

Remediation Possibilities

For my first possibility, using my Repurposing project piece, I can develop my essay on feminism and turn it into an informational video with clips of women talking first-hand about the topics I use in my paper, complete with slides of quotes and shocking statistics.

My second possibility is a Ted talk with my paper as the basis.  I could film myself giving this Ted talk and make it a YouTube video.

For my third option, I am thinking of taking a piece I wrote last year in my History of Sport and the Color Line class about the Negro Leagues and developing it into a podcast. I talk a lot about the history of African-Americans and baseball and I think a podcast could really work in exploring that and also discussing contemporary topics.

Internet Habits

Interestingly, I was actually a productive student this weekend, and not goofing off on my laptop like usual. On Friday, most of my internet history involved my email as I was trying to craft an important email to a family friend. Still, it’s pretty funny to look at my web history and note how many different times Gmail pops up. I only had to send 1 email to send, yet I can see all of the correspondence I went through to figure out what exactly to say. It was a professional email (and being a 19 year old, I have little experience in wording a proper professional email), so I was emailing my brother back and forth trying to figure out the perfect email to send.

Saturday, I had 3 club basketball games in East Lansing so the only thing on my web history was actually searching for a concussion test online because my friend and teammate was hit in the head during the game and felt dizzy (luckily he is ok and concussion free). Sunday, I was on my computer a little bit more because I was on it before the Super Bowl. I had some wikipedia searches for some cultural references I didn’t understand from watching last week’s episode of SNL. I also looked up a few sports figures (I’m a huge sports fan and frequently look up player statistics) and some concert times (trying to get these Bieber tickets at the Palace).

It wasn’t a great weekend of boredom and therefore internet surfing for me, but I think I did realize that the best thing to help my web surfing habits is to keep busy. I wasn’t home much, and therefore couldn’t surf the web on my computer. I was very active this weekend and had a great weekend, and I’m much happier keeping busy than I am staying on my computer all day. From now on, I’m going to do my best to keep busy and active on the weekends because I shouldn’t just sit on my laptop all day.

 

The Players’ Tribune: An Intriguing Venue

For this blog, I selected an article from The Players’ Tribune. The article is written by Justise Winslow, small forward for the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat, regarding his teammate Hassan Whiteside’s candidacy for the NBA’s All-Star Game.

The Players’ Tribune is a website founded by Derek Jeter, former All-Star shortstop for the New York Yankees. He created The Players’ Tribune as an outlet for players to connect directly with the public. I find this venue extremely interesting because it cuts out the middle man–the media. Members of the media and large media conglomerations alike determine much of the news and stories we read. The Players’ Tribune is unique in that it gives players a platform that they control. All pieces are written by athletes from a wide range of sports.

The piece I selected is part of a series of NBA players campaigning for other players in the league for the All-Star game. It is clear that Winslow is Whiteside’s teammate through his writing: “I’ve seen big-time dunkers hear Hassan’s footsteps and suddenly get shook, mid-air, and hit ’em with the fadeaway. I’m telling you: It’s crazy what teams are willing to do to avoid Hassan. And don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’d do it, too.” Winslow’s writing purpose is clearly influenced by his perspective as Whiteside’s teammate. His language clearly advocates for Whiteside’s spot as an All-Star and reflects his bias as a teammate.

Winslow’s bias is an absolute key component of this article as well as the forum. These two components influence the article tremendously and make it what it is–an interesting piece written by an athlete about another athlete directly to the consumer (us!).

Twitter

I do not consider myself an avid reader. I don’t read books, I don’t read newspapers, I don’t read magazines. As my parents would tell you, I do not read enough.

Yet, I do read enough–more than enough. I just don’t fit into the definition of avid reader that my parents, and many people of their generation, are accustomed to. See, I receive my news, my sports scores, my celebrity gossip from online sources, primarily from Twitter. I am constantly looking at the Twitter app on my phone or my computer. I follow 211 accounts on the site/app; ranging from news aggregators to sports insiders to friends even. I receive most of my news fix from Twitter.

Twitter is a venue that intrigues me and is, in fact, my greatest source of comfort reading. I recognize that Twitter is a unique choice as a source of comfort reading since it is considered a social media application as well as having a 140 character limit per tweet. Yet, I am very much a product of my generation. As a millennial who is constantly plugged in electronically, I search for constant amusement. I’m always multitasking–texting, web surfing, checking social media. Twitter is comforting and interesting to me because it is a reading source that is perfect for people like me. Twitter is updated in real time, as opposed to newspapers and magazines which are updated daily or weekly. Twitter feeds my craving for constant updates–it solves my search for news and keeps my mind away from the trenches of boredom.

Twitter’s 140 character limit keeps it sharp. People must adapt their writing style to putting in the most vital information in the fewest amount of words possible. I can read an entire story in 140 characters. I don’t have to read through piles and piles of unnecessary words to get to the core of what I want to know.