Introducing, my capstone

The Writing minor gateway and capstone projects are daunting. They’ll require hours upon hours of research, revision, re-revision, etc. They’ll make you question your choices, perhaps doubt your ability to finish the task, but they will also inspire you. They’ll make you aim higher, work harder to achieve your goals. In the end, they are always rewarding if you put the effort in.

Here is the link to my capstone project. I hope anyone who visits it will find it useful in their own way. Feel free to contribute to the site as well using the last tab on the site.

chetalijain.wixsite.com/50ways

It’s personal…

Initially, I had fears that my project which is essentially a bucket list, would not seem weighty enough for my capstone. It seemed that everyone was focusing on serious, important subject matters for their project, while mine seemed too surface level. I guess it just didn’t feel like it would have a place in the world without more context.

That’s when I realized that I would have to open it up, and myself, a bit more. I had to explain why I made the list. That meant that I had to delve back into the entire reasoning behind it, which is essentially a lowkey philosophy on life. It is also deeply personal and caused by things that have happened in my life. I knew that I didn’t want to dwell on them, nor did I want to write any more about the negative experiences (I wrote about them plenty in high school), but I realized that the reader would have no idea why this meant anything to me unless I showed them.

So I sucked it up, stopped being a baby, and talked about my life and what led to me to choose my capstone project. It wasn’t easy – I feel like when I write, I have to put myself into the mindset of what I’m talking about or it just won’t feel authentic. But, as many people pointed out, it needed to happen in order to create something meaningful.

Memoirs I’ve read don’t shy away from exploring the crummy parts – they don’t skim the surface and keep only the happy, light events/thoughts. They are gritty, they hurt, but they are powerful. The preface was my way of doing this, and I hope it gives context, relevancy, background, and significance to my piece.

I think what’s left for this project is to refine the narrative components. These do some of the work of the preface in that they provide substance to the seemingly fluffy.

 

 

 

Am I crazy or a writer?

^me trying to write for eight consecutive hours today.

Today was finessing my capstone project. It was a major overhaul of what I had before. A lot of the time was spent messing with Wix to help create the vision I had for the project in my head.

Subsisting on coffee, more coffee, and then some more coffee, my site and capstone finally feel (more) complete – likely it will never be TOTALLY complete in my mind but so it goes. It took a lot, if I am to be honest. I had to dig through my journals to try and capture the emotions of the experiences I was writing about, and I even called up one of my friends who was heavily involved in one of them and started bombarding her with questions about that particular night. It helped immensely to hear the same experience from a different perspective; it added depth and variation to what might have otherwise been a one-sided account of things. I still need to work on the narrative of my summer internship, but at least the shitty first draft is up.

Though as it is right now, it doesn’t seem to be something I can make a book out of, I would still like to play around with the idea of printing it somehow. I put a lot of work into the site and feel it is the primary mode of consuming the work, but there is something to be said about a physical copy of the work. It could compensate for the “randomize” button that Wix doesn’t have (all a reader would have to do is flip to a random page).

The biggest change (besides for the completeness) is the editing of the “preface.” With suggestions from the class, from T, and from Angie Berkely at Sweetland, I reconstructed the piece – though some basic elements are the same, the main point has been adjusted a bit, and I’m curious to see if it “works” better now. It’s definitely more specific and personal, which may or may not be a good thing. Time will tell I suppose.

Anyway, it’s late, I’m rambling, and I can tell that a caffeine crash is imminent.

Resisting resistance

 <<The level and depth of motivation I needed to start

Having finally landed on a specific project idea AND beginning it was an immense relief. Since my project involves a list of 50 items, and then narrative expansions on select items, I was particularly daunted by the whole undertaking. It was like staring at the Mind-Slayer from Stranger Things right in the tentacles and saying that I wasn’t afraid of it. Minus the weird exorcist-esque possessed theme, that’s kind of how I felt before starting.

T setting a deadline for me to finish an introduction to the project really helped get the ball rolling. I don’t know why, but sometimes, unless someone lights a fire under me, I resist starting the writing. It’s awful, and I wish I didn’t need it sometimes, but a deadline generally helps me get going on a piece of writing.

In past writing classes, this hasn’t always been an issue, but I’ve noticed a pattern for when it is: it’s usually when I am personally invested in the project. I think I resist because it means so much that I don’t want to mess it up or disappoint myself if the product isn’t as good in real life as it is in my head.

I seriously need to get over this though and accept that there are shitty first, and second and third and fourth, drafts and just begin writing.

Once I got started, the ball kept rolling, and within a matter of a couple hours, I had an introduction to my capstone, but more importantly, I finally gained a clear sense of what I wanted my capstone to accomplish and why it mattered to me. Based on feedback received from the class, this introduction helped them understand the project better and gave it context. If only I had done this sooner….

Sleep Is Important.

Since August, I was working at a hospital and spending upwards of 24 NIGHT hours at work per week while also going to school and balancing two more jobs, some extracurricular clubs, and social activities. I slept in the crevices of my schedule, and for a while, it all seemed completely manageable.

Who needs continuous sleep? I thought. I did, as it turns out. After that initial month where I felt like superwoman and consequently also never sat down, the reality of my grueling schedule started to compound. Each hour of sleep that was lost was felt, felt in my perpetual sleepiness, felt in my sore feet, felt in my less than ideal grades. I didn’t really feel like I was engaged in the moment, and as a result, the quality of my contributions to my courses suffered, I believe. I wasn’t participating like I wanted to. I didn’t raise my hand or follow the lectures.

Me in class most days:

And the capstone project seemed to be at a standstill. It seemed so daunting, so insurmountable. I didn’t really know what I wanted the project to be, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it happen regardless. I resisted starting, planning, writing, reaching out to mentors – all because I wasn’t feeling engaged with it.

Then I quit my job. Only the 24 night hours/week one. And it made all the difference: after getting eight continuous (here this word means that the 8 hours were back to back instead of split up into chunks of 2 or 3 because those were the only intervals I had to catch up on rest for the past two months) hours of sleep, I felt like a new woman. Multiple people commented on the transformation (I had answered my EEB teacher’s questions a few times in lecture that day), even strangers. It was crazy, who knew sleep mattered? Just kidding, of course it does. But I underestimated just how much.

I remember pieces I’ve written while sleep-deprived in the past, notably a set of notes for class I’d read while falling asleep. It was nearly illegible. It’s kind of shocking how little we can function when we are not rested.

My perspective on the project has also done a 180. I feel more ready and confident about making it happen, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Wear sunscreen

“If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it”

-from Baz Luhrmann’s sunscreen song (and Mary Schmich).

I think that’s pretty solid advice. Specifically in regards to the minor though, I think taking risks is important. For most of the projects (in my case), there was always an easy way that I could do them, the non-threatening and trodden path on the way to completing them. But if I hadn’t scared myself a little with some of the decisions I made for project II and III, I would definitely not have gotten as much enjoyment, meaning, and use out of them. The projects all signify something special to me, and I encourage future Gateway-ers to choose a topic that they know they are enthusiastic about, and then really stretch their mind when it comes to deciding what they want their Projects II and III to be.

I would also recommend fully utilizing the time you have in workshops and meetings with T. Your project proposal meetings will be so helpful in working out the maybe not as strong parts in your project outline. The workshops will give you so many important perspectives that you may not even have thought of before. The class works when there is a collaborative air, and I highly recommend contributing to that vibe.

The gateway was amazing, and I’m so sad it’s already over. Enjoy it!!The sunscreen speech, ladies and gentlemen.

 

State of Project III

So I rewrote the lyrics of two songs to make them relate to the calls that were used in Project II. I think for the most part the lyrics are set in stone. I recorded the accompaniment to one of the songs, I have a rough draft of the vocal part, I’ve edited those parts together (basically copy/cut/paste the two parts so they line up better), and now I have to either decide if I like it enough to keep it and not just re-record the whole thing.

Something that surprised me about this project was how things sort of came together for the lyrics. I really had trouble re-writing the lyrics to the first song (I re-wrote “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber) because the timing of the words is so particular in that song, and you need to find the right rhythm to make it sound similar to the original. And, while trying to write the lyrics initially, I was unsure of what parts of the call I wanted to include. It was a real struggle and the task seemed daunting, but once I started actually writing the lyrics, it took me one Physics lecture to complete! I was surprised at how fast the words poured out. Then for the second song (I changed Maroon 5’s “Sugar” to “Glucose” for hypoglycemia), I felt more confident and that one came out even faster than the first. I also think it’s odd that the second song is more playful and fun than the first.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. Not sure if I’m going to make a video to complement it or what but just glad a song is recorded.

I swear I’m not on anything

My pet peeves…hmm…my pet peeves…I should have learned from last time and thought about this ahead of time. But here I am…idea-less…using excessive periods…Omg it doesn’t stop. Okay, I guess one of my pet peeves would be timers. They really stress me out. I really dislike the pressure of time. It’s inexorable. It’s inescapable. There is literally nothing anyone can do to get more time or to go back in time or whatever. Actually once I was watching this thing on TV and they actually said that it was possible to travel through time. Like they made these tiny microscopic particles go super super fast like speed of light fast and then by the end they hadn’t decayed or something as much as they should’ve meaning that time travel exists! (or at least things can experience time differently based on the speed at which they are going). Anyway, it blew my mind but also made me kind of exasperated. Like how am I supposed to travel at the speed of light and is that the only way I can get more time? Not fair. Also, apparently depending on where you are on this Earth, time can move differently for you. If I remember correctly, time in Egypt moves like very very marginally slower than it does elsewhere. I think something to do with sea level or gravity or distance from something I’m actually not sure…. Anyway they also said that if you were on a train that went at the speed of light, you would experience a year in the time it took everyone else to experience 100 years. Maybe this whole thing was a load of garbage but honestly I can’t wait for the day when someone discovers how to move people at the speed of light to slow down time and what not without us exploding. I’m feeling existential tonight clearly. Also isn’t it weird how in dreams you feel like you can live a whole life and it’s actually just one hour. I read that it’s this weird chemical that our brain makes when we go through the stages of sleep. It makes us perceive time differently. Time is soooooo weird. Also I don’t like when I can’t remember the dream I had (if it was good). I guess that’s a pet peeve. Hey that’s pretty cyclic I’m right back to where I started. UNLIKE TIME. (maybe).

Run-on sentences, grammatical errors, disjointed thoughts, AND PUPPIES

I would say that the animals I most like are dogs. That wasn’t always the case. My favorite animal used to be tigers, but now they are just in the top 3. I also like elephants. In kindergarten they had this animal day where some guy brought in a bunch of different types of animals. One of those animals was a chinchilla. For a while, I thought chinchillas were the most amazing creatures ever to exist. It was the softest thing I’ve ever felt. It was also super friendly. I got over them since they aren’t exactly easily accessible. Anyway, back to dogs. I really love them. They are so pure hearted and loyal and fun and enthusiastic. I have a dog. He’s great. I love him. I myself would say that if I were to be an animal, I’d probably be a wolf. I really like wolves, too. They are awesome because you can be a lone wolf if you want, but if you’re feeling more social, you can find yourself a pack and travel like that. It’s a really versatile animal if you think about it. Plus they are super tough and they look like they could handle a lot of scary shit. They also live in colder regions and they don’t mind and I honestly don’t mind the cold too much either so it seems like the perfect fit really. I used to think I would be a tiger if I were an animal. They just seemed so regal and majestic and most of my picture books contained awesome graphics of tigers and I even bought this book all on tigers when I was in elementary school because I was obsessed. My favorite was the Bengal tiger. The white tigers freak me out a little though. Oh my gosh I don’t know what else to write how do  I keep talking about what animal, oh timer’s up.

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