My Final Project

Hi everyone,

I’ve done it! This blog post officially announces the completion of my final project, entitled Girl Walks Into the World: Essays.

I wrote a collection of 7 essays. I used a feminist perspective to engage with slang, social media, and more.

You can read my essays and my introduction and check out all of my sources on my site.

I hope you check it out and I hope you like it.

Thank you!

Challenge Journal 4: Calling It Quits

I find it can be really hard for me to decide when something is done. A homework assignment, a paper, an exam—whatever it is, I have a hard time letting go of it. Sometimes I bump into time constraints that tell me it just has to be done, but oftentimes, when it’s left up to me, I check and recheck. When I’m writing an essay, I could read it five times after I’ve decided it’s done and still find new things to change.

As I’ve gotten more confident in my writing abilities throughout the years, it’s become a little easier to deal with this impulse. I still don’t know when to say I’m done, but I know when to decide to call it quits, so to say. When I’ve done enough good work that it’s not worth poring over and over it to make tiny changes.

However, I feel that this might come as a challenge to me in my Capstone project. Right now, my essays are written and my website is constructed. I’m getting into the stage over the next few days where I edit my essays and do some deconstructing and rebuilding on my website.

I can’t be sure yet, but I’m preeetty confident that I’m going to have a hard time calling it done. Unlike other projects, there isn’t an exact rubric I can compare this work to. And, unlike other (many) projects, this topic is personal to me and I’m really invested in how it turns out. This project isn’t about the grade, it’s about the work. I want it to be something I’m proud of, that I’m excited to show people. Which I think makes it hard to know when I’m happy enough. Is there a point where I can call it done?

Maybe there won’t come a point where I’m 100% satisfied. Maybe 100% satisfied doesn’t exist, and it’s just a matter of figuring out when it’s good enough that I actively want to show people who have asked me about it. And maybe not being 100% satisfied is something I should take as a sign, something that means that there’s more to explore here and that I’m not done writing, even if I’m done with this assignment.

The capstone project has come to mean a lot to me. It was a little scary and overwhelming when we were in the early stages of proposing and mocking up. It’s a little scary and overwhelming now, but in a new way. It’s strange to find your heart in something that started off as a prompt and a lot of questions. Maybe when I’m done it’ll mean done for now, and that’s okay. But I do have to figure out when to at least call it done for now.

Challenge Journal 3: Tricky Wix

I used Wix to build the website for my Gateway e-portfolio and I am using it again to build my final project, which is a collection of essays. Wix worked well for me for my Gateway, but afterward there were small, nitpick-y things I wish I’d done differently, there were boxes that weren’t exactly even, just this and that that made me feel not quite satisfied. I’m someone who wishes she had an eye for design; I can appreciate aesthetically pleasing things and I love to look at artsy websites, but I’m not really sure how to recreate them. I don’t know how to take something that’s in my head and put it on the screen; I’m not even sure, really, how to turn it into a clear vision in my head. And Wix is about as user-friendly as a site-making app could be, so I might be doomed.

It’s interesting having my project live on a site. It was a little different for my e-portfolio, because the site felt more like a host to a thing that existed elsewhere and not like it was part of my projects. But for the capstone final, the site is an important part of my project. I feel extra pressure to make it look just how I want it to, to turn it into something permanent that I’m happy with. I want my site to complement my writing and vice versa. Having that added element is a challenge, but not a bad one. It encourages me to consider more than just my writing, which I think is important. I can’t really think of a writing project that would exist in a vacuum, uninfluenced by any other elements of design. I think it’s good practice to have to think about about my project in a greater context, to think about the other components that come in to play and establish a mood for my audience. I know what my project is, but my website is a way to welcome others into my project and set them up to read my work.

Challenge Journal 2: Thankful

Some background: I work as a columnist for the Michigan Daily. For my final project, I’m working on a collection of essays. For my latest column, I submitted one of the drafts of my essays. The essay topic fit the topic of my column, and I was hoping to get some good feedback to help me on my revision process.

Last semester I took an English 325 class: the art of the essay. Writing a creative nonfiction essay was really new to me. It was challenging to try to find my voice in the genre and especially hard for me to decide what was worth writing about. I constantly doubted whether my essays were worth writing, whether the stories I was picking were worth telling. Nothing that I had to say was groundbreaking or dramatic. My perspective, in my eyes, didn’t offer anything new.

When I decided I wanted to write a collection of essays for my Writing 420 final project, I went through the same feelings. I wanted to pick topics that felt important to me, that were things I thought about and talked about it my day to day life, but I also wondered if I could really, meaningfully contribute to the conversations that interested me.

After my column was published last week, I received an email from my English 325 professor. He wanted to let me know that he’d read and enjoyed my column and that it had made him think. He also wanted to let me know that he planned to distribute it to his class as an example of the kind of writing he is looking for in an upcoming project.

Getting this email meant so much to me. Even though I’ve been working on trying to be able to internally validate my work and be able to look at it honestly, it still helped to hear it from the outside. Especially to hear from someone who was familiar with my writing and had seen me work through a semester of getting to know a new genre. Having someone else tell me that I’m accomplishing some of the things I’m working toward motivated me a lot.

It also made me feel more eager to ask questions of others, to not be afraid of seeking out feedback and critique. There’s a learning curve everywhere, and I want this project to be something I’m proud of. I didn’t roll into English 325 knowing just where to find myself in a new genre, and I’m still figuring things out. That’s okay.

Challenge Journal 1: Kind of Rituals

I don’t think that I’m a very ritual-based person. I don’t have a lot of routines or a place I have to go to study. I’m pretty organized (at least kind of organized) and I rely heavily on my Google Calendar, but this doesn’t carry over into my writing process. For as much time as I’ve spent writing as an English major and a Writing minor, I do not have a system to my writing.

Even though I don’t have a system now, it used to be much worse. Until about my junior year here, I would just jump into writing. No outlining, no brainstorming, nothing—this was an obviously based system and it made everything much harder then it needed to be. I then realized the merits of outlining, and I guess that sort of serves as a ritual now. Before I start an academic paper, I create two docs. I have a final paper doc, for actually writing the document, and an outline doc, for creating a long, detailed, bullet-pointed outline. This has worked pretty well for me.

This outlining system, so far, hasn’t really carried over into my creative writing. I took a creative nonfiction class and I don’t think I wrote a single outline. I barely utilized outlining for my Gateway course, either. I don’t know why this is the case, exactly. I know that outlining helps me in my academic writing. When I get done with my outline, everything is so detailed that it’s just a matter of filling in some transitions on the final doc. But for whatever reason, despite the success I’ve had with it, despite the peace of mind it brings me, I feel something barring me from using it for creative writing. I’m not sure what it is or how to remedy it, but maybe being cognizant of it is enough. I have a kind of ritual, and using it might be the answer to becoming a better writer.

To the Future Gateway Students

To the future gateway students:

This class is going to be fun. And challenging. There is a lot of freedom to be creative and to pursue your own ideas. With this comes a lot of responsibility. Deadlines are going to be a little more casual, so it’s on you to keep up with your work. It also might be easy to follow an idea that feels safe and easy. While this might help you get done faster, I think this class offers a fantastic opportunity to take some risks and see what you’re really capable of when given free reign to chase something that interests you.

My cohort made a groupme, which was super fun. This is a small class — you’ll see these same people for 3 hours a week, and you’ll share some pretty personal stuff with them in workshop. You might be lucky enough to be in classes together later. It’s a good opportunity to make friends. The better the environment, the more comfortable it is to be a little “out there” with your ideas.

Don’t fall behind on your projects or your ePortfolio. And definitely check out the ePortfolios your peers are making; people do really cool things, and it’s amazing to see how different people take on the same assignment. Your professor is a great resource. Whoever you get, they’ll be intelligent and engaged, and they will really, truly care about you as a student. Take advantage of that, because they rock.

I think this is a pretty common theme, but there’s a lot of opportunity in this class to challenge yourself, take risks, and break out of your comfort zone. It’s tough to do, but it’s worth it.

Good luck.

Regarding a number of the animals I have met or thought of

I had a dream last night about a moose
except it was maybe a dinosaur
and we were supposed to save it (I think)
but it died and I’m not sure
what that says about
my psyche.

 

I pride myself on being able to identify dog breeds on the street —
once I couldn’t sleep so
I took a dog breed identifier quiz
at 2:30 am
and I got 20/20.

 

My dog’s name was Bella,
we had her for 13 years.

 

My friends used to tell me I looked like a chipmunk
but I think I
grew out of the baby face
a little.

 

I think if I were an animal I would be an alpaca.

 

This summer I was extending my hand
enthusiastically
to a duck to try and win its trust
when it bit me —
or at least when after my shiny ring.

Arrivals

I remember arriving at Camp Kabeyun. We rolled up to the gates, saw the sign with its gothic font welcoming us to Camp Kabeyun: a Summer Camp for Boys. It was cold that day, but we were eager to be out of the car. I turned my phone off — I texted my family, the last text I would send for 6 weeks. Rachael was the first person to greet us as we poured out of the van, dropping backpacks and stretching limbs. I didn’t know her name then, just that we were suddenly being given directions by a small woman with long hair and a colorful knit hat. She looked like a woodland fairy… but stern. Her dog, Goose, was close behind. I would come to find that Goose was always close behind Rachael, watching the action with her grey-black chin perched on her paws.

When we left Kabeyun, the first song my van played was by Shakira. We turned it all the way up and rolled the windows down while we waved goodbye to the place that had been home for 6 weeks. All of the vans took some time to go to Walden Pond. It wasn’t really out of our way — it was a final trip for us all to make together. After reading so much about it, I think we expected it to feel like some kind of arrival, some kind of culmination of our time in New England. I don’t know why I thought it would look like Thoreau had described it. I don’t know why I was so surprised by the public beach that greeted us, the water filled with buoys, the children with swim floats tightened around their upper arms. We’d all had high hopes, I think, for Walden Pond, and arriving there slingshotted us bak into reality a little more abruptly than any of us were prepared for.