Robin Queen Event

Yesterday I attended the Writer to Writer event featuring Robin Queen. Going into the event, I wasn’t expecting to have so much in common with a woman who has written an entire book. I wrote her off in my head (pun intended) as an academic and therefor someone who I would not identify with in any way, shape, or form. Her advise about writing would not relate to the type of writing I do or will be doing in the future. She would just be different.

I was wrong. I was so pleasantly surprised at how many times I found myself saying “omg SAME” in my head.

The time this happened was early on in the event. When discussing her early years as a writer, she said one thing she found out early in her writing career was that it “usually looked more brilliant in my head than it did on paper”. That is when I began to engage more closely. I was hooked. I struggle with this often so it was great to hear that even successful professional writers experience this too. I often some great ideas that truly excite me, but then on paper those ideas fall flat. Everything thing changes once you try to piece things together on a page. That is where the brilliance can often become more mundane. It takes working through it many times to get it how you imagined in your head.

That leads me into the second thing she said that resonated with me. The interviewer asked Robin what her favorite thing to is to write, and she replied “a piece that is finished”. Of course, she laughed it of as a joke and gave another answer but her original answer was spot on. Honestly, I feel like I am so focused on making deadlines and just getting things done. It’s not healthy for my writing. I should be writing to write, not to be finished. It will be really interesting to see how my writing changes when I am no longer in school!

Lastly, another piece of advice she gave that I think is really valuable was that being frustrated is not going to you get your writing done. Her struggles with distractions and focus were spot on and very relatable. She noted that you have to control your emotions. I felt this was particularly important for me to keep in mind with my project right now. When I am frustrated I usually just shy away from it, and that isn’t helping the situation at all. I need to stay focused and positive to work through frustrations I may have. The final push is upon us all!

Staying Focused Second Semester Senior Year

Anyone who has read my title for this post probably knows the direction I am going with this. And I assume, or hope, that I am not alone in this.

This semester has been like no other semester. The feeling of not knowing where I will be in a year has been both a blessing and a curse. In some ways, it has helped put school and other things that used to stressed me out into perspective. It has helped me to look at life in a more balanced manner and to not sweat the small stuff (as much at least). However, as I think many will agree, it is a scary/exciting/stressful/bittersweet time and this can be distracting.

This class is really pushing me outside of my comfort zone. When I am done with my project, it will be the longest time I have ever spent working on one assignment. Since I have never written a thesis or anything of that type, this is a daunting task. A task that probably could not have come at a worse time…second semester senior year when my brain is so preoccupied by questions about the future. Although I am excited about the actual project itself, as the topic interests me, I am having trouble focusing on it.

Every time I leave our class, I feel motivated, focused, and ready to tackle the work for the class. However, a few hours or days later, that feeling no longer exists. I feel disconnected from it all. I feel distracted. Even after I work on this class and then leave it to do other work, I have trouble getting back into it again. I worry how this kind of lack of focus will affect not only the ability to do the work, but also the quality of the work being done. As I mentioned before, I’ve never had to focus on one assignment for this long, so I am having a tough time.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this. Are any of you having a similar problem? Does anyone who does well with long-term assignments or is working on a thesis of some sort have advice on how to tackle this and stay engaged?



I’ve Made My Production Plan, Now What?

After class on Thursday, I immediately went home and finished my production plan. Putting the schedule together was a little hard, as I know things will change. Timelines will shift, certain components might change, but I am happy I was at least forced to put down a rough guide. Some aspects of my production plan I feel confident about, such as the ability to find the research I need, and also the writing of my own personal experience with mental health issues. Additionally, I have experience in making videos and podcasts.

What I am less confident about isn’t related to a certain component, but rather putting it all together. I am not sure how I am going to structure my whole project. Although, as we discussed, that should hold me back from beginning to write and research about it, mentally it is still stressful for me. As someone who likes to be very organized and planned out, I have never started a paper that I have literally no idea where it would end. Sure, sometimes when I get into things they do end differently thant I thought, but I at least went into it with some idea of how I thought it would look like. I feel much more in the dark about this project. I need to get passed this anxiety about knowing everything to be able to get into researching. My attitude about it all is very hesitant, and I am working on conceptualizing it all differently, so that I am not intimidated or discouraged about it. This is what I will be working with this week. With more confidence and a clear head, I will be able to better delve into my topic and starting the research.

Narrowing My Scope

I’m feeling a little less confident today.

Of course, as a worrisome person, I build things up in my head. Yet, I still cannot ignore the fact that my project feels very up in the air, so to speak. After much thought, and talking with our professor, I worry about where my project will end.

It is easy to pick a topic and know, roughly, what about it interests you, but that is just the beginning. Turning an idea into action takes work. That is where I am at right now. I am going to write about mental health and disorders with a critical lens on how academics and other various professionals define and evaluate it.

But what exactly is my scope? I thought I knew. I thought I had a good definition of where my project would start and end, but the more I think and talk with others about it, the more I am worried about it.

Finding the perfect scope, one that is not overly simplified or too daunting for the couple months I have to work on it, is hard. Right now, I need to narrow my scope down. I need to clearly define where I will draw the line. With a topic that has an immense amount of research and theories about it, I could easily be sucked up in the project and never find a distinguishing argument or end. With time, I am sure I can get to a point where my project seems doable. It will just take time.

Is anyone else having dilemmas deciding the scope of your project? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

The Process of Perfecting my Project

Getting to a finished project proposal has been a daunting task. My project has taken many forms at different over a very short period of time. In fact, the project I have now chosen is not the option I thought I wold have gone with. When we were first told to come to class with a list of 6 options, this was not at the top of my list. However, after much deliberation and meeting with our professor, I feel very excited about the direction I am going.

I originally thought I was more interested in songwriting. This idea was sparked by the notion our Raymond brought up about this being the chance to work on something you have never been able to in school. Immediately, I thought about songwriting, because I have always wanted to try to learn, yet haven’t had the time. However, finding the actual confounding variable, something that makes this unique, was tough. And, after meeting with Raymond, I decided this project was not going to get fleshed out in my head any time soon.

My second choice was the topic of mental health. I have a huge personal connection to the topic, as three people very close to me live with mild to severe mental disorders of various kinds. This topic has always faced me because it is so complex and often hard to wrap your head around. This, I realized, I could delve into in a new way.

Once I chose the actual topic of mental health, I had to figure out what exactly I wanted to do differentely. Sure, I could research various theories out there, as there is an immense amount of research and knowledge out there on the topic. But rather than simply looking at what mental disorders are and how they affect those who lives with them, I wanted to connect it more socially. I was more interested in how society interacts with the topic, and why.

At first, my pre-proposal asked a lot of questions that I knew were un-original. Questions of stigma and cause are common in the research of mental disabilities. This was not going to be good enough. With more thought and time put into to my official proposal, I was able to find an angle that not only made me excited, but was something new. My new angle takes the various things we know about the topic, and looks at how society treats the topic, and finds a way to explain why those two are not aligned. Searching for a “blindspot” if you will. This feels new and exciting and also argumentative.

I am very excited to see what I find after I begin immersing myself in the topic.

Brainstorming the Capstone Project

As I sat in class Thursday, I changed my mind every ten minutes about what to do for my project. Some ideas are too vague, some aren’t monumentally “new and inventive”, and others are simply bigger than I can successfully tackle in the time given. So many possibilities. So many uncertainties.

When initially writing down six options, I did not feel strongly about any choice, either way. In class, I attempted to narrow them down with minimal success. There are two options that stick out in my mind. One more concrete than the other.

The first is songwriting as a form. I initially thought of this because it is something I always wanted to learn, but have never gotten a chance to explore it in my coursework as a Communications Studies major. I sang my entire life until college, so although writing songs is a whole new playing filed, I believe I would genuinely enjoy spending time on this. My apprehension with this as a project is what the main topic would be. It is possible that I could try to make the process of learning how to do it the actual topic. It definitely warrants research of music theory, the psychology behind music/songwriting, and much more. This process also warrants much reflection, and multimedia work. I just worry about how to make this a well-rounded, interesting, and “new” topic. What scope would I actually use? To be determined.

If I did this, the disciplines used could be: Music composition/theory, psychology, sociomusicology, and more?

Focal Object: Songwriting

Confound Variable: No idea, I would say doing all of this work via songs, however writing songs about songwriting sounds as boring and it does absurd.

There are many loose ends with this idea….

Three Lists

This week were asked to make three lists in order to help us figure out our final project, re-meidation. The first list is all of the disciplines that are required for making my re-purposed project. This was hard considering the paper was a memoir, so a lot of it took introspection which I did not know how to describe exactly. Here is what I came up with:

  • Writing   50%
  • Psychology   15%
  • Media Studies   %5
  • History   10%
  • ? 20%

The next list is all of the disciplines involved in completing my re-mediated project:

  • Technology/software  25%
  • Writing  25%
  • Speech/language  %20
  • Psychology  10%
  • Media studies  5%
  • History  5%
  • ?  10%

These are the skills I still need to learn to complete my re-mediation project:

  • How to shorten my 10 page memoir into a shorter script, while still being equally effective, keeping
    • My point about the skills I’ve acquired from past
    • Narrative flow
    • Openness and genuinely in voice
  • How to burn or transfer audio from a DVD that is a home-made physical copy (not online), while maintaining good sound quality

Listening to Pheobe Gloeckner

Yesterday evening I had the great opportunity to watch a live radio interview with the amazingly talented and wildly unique, Phoebe Gloeckner. Phoebe is a writer, and illustrator who has produced works such as The Diary of a Teenage Girl and A Childs Life and Other Stories. She was amazingly candid, spirited, and fascinatingly mysterious.

The interview, which took place at Literati Bookstore and was conducted by writing professor Raymond McDaniel, lasted around an hour, in which Phoebe reflected on the making of her previous works, her inspiration, and her current project on the life of the family of a murdered teenager living in Ciudad Juárez. It was one unlike any interview of a novelist, or artist, that I have heard before.

What made this experience truly unique is the fact that when asked about decisions, or processes she goes through, her answers often had an “I don’t know, things just happen” aspect. For any aspiring illustrators or novelists, they probably found this half memorizing and half discouraging. Her advice was unconventional at best. She talks about how she doesn’t make a plan when she starts something, things just happen and eventually work out. For the average person, this would likely go very, very horribly. So, I could not help but leave that bookstore thinking “well, moral of the story is be naturally talented and genius, and things will work out”. Of course, that is not all there is to Pheobe Gloeckner who has gotten extensive education, but in many ways her genius is still a mystery to me…

Creating my Remediation Project

Class today was very helpful. Discussing my remediation project with someone else helped give me more insight into what format is the most logical, and plausible, for my project. I decided to turn my repurposed paper, a memoir, into a podcast. A podcast can easily be very personal, almost like a conversation or confessional-style piece because I will be the narrator, talking about my own life. Additionally, I will incorporate audio clips from my performances in order to give context to my stories, and also to make it more engaging for listeners.

In order to achieve this, I will use Garage Band. Garage Band easy to use for audio editing, and I am very familiar with it. Additionally, I will import audio files from my performances, either by re-recording the audio of video with my iPhone, and/or by making the audio from YouTube videos into mp3s and importing those (using this website). After I make the track by importing outside audio and recording my own audio, I will export the track from Garage Band to Soundcloud, and that will be my final format. If anyone else is doing a radio show/podcast for their project and has questions regarding Garage Band or importing/exporting audio, feel free to comment on my post and I can try to help!



Ideas for my Remediation Paper

While sitting in class today, I realized that I really have no clue how I want to remediate the memoir I wrote. Being a memior, my paper could be shot like a documentary style film, however this options could involve help with filming (considering I am the subject). Additionally, it would also require digging up a lot of old videos and photos of my performances and my childhood. Although this is still an option, it just requires a lot of resources that I am not sure I have.

One thing I know for sure is that I would like to highlight, either with audio or video clips, my older days of performance. I do not, however, know if these old films can be easily, or even legally, transferred onto my computer. So that will be something to look into. Another way to keep music incorporated would be to write a song. I’d love to record a song, however songwriting is not my strong suit, and I am not sure if I could give my 10 page paper justice with a single song.

While in class today, someone mentioned the idea of a series of blog posts. This instantly sounded like a viable option, as I could write the posts as if they are entries from the time period of the various points in my life that I emphasize in my memoir. This could give more present tense attention to the challenges and decisions I have made throughout my life, instead of simply reminiscing on them in past tense.

Lastly, I could do a podcast. This could give me a chance to keep much of the content of my paper, while also utilizing audio clips/music from my performances. This would help me keep the personal narrative aspect, but in a possibly more realistic way then a video documentary.

As you can probably tell, I am completely unsure of which avenue I will take, and part of that decision may involve research into what resources I may have as far as old videos, pictures, and audio clips.