My project is focused on expanding knowledge surrounding disordered eating. I wanted to create a project that emulated one possible mindset of some person recovering from an eating disorder. My hope was that it would serve as resource to those who may be struggling, while also providing insight into how difficult eating patterns are to change.
As I mention in my introduction essay, my Capstone project is modeled off the “choose your own reality” show, Bandersnatch. Bandersnatch is an episode of Black Mirror in which viewers choose the character’s destiny. The genre chosen was intentional. In the realm of “Choose your own reality,” options are limited and it may be required to start over.
Overall, I feel relieved to have finally written something that turns a negative experience that I had into a resource that may be useful to others.
My origin piece is something that I wrote in English 125. It was a deeply personal narrative, but I felt like a lot of the things that I discussed–family history, self-esteem, and confidence–were universal themes. My plan for my experiment is to change this origin piece into a work of creative nonfiction that reflects how these feelings are universal, and shows the extent that we change who we are. I’m not crazy about writing a personal narrative as it’s a genre that I feel like I’ve explored a lot before. I’m not sure exactly what moment from my life I really want to explore, but I’m sure something will come to me. For the second experiment I would really like to return to writing more. I mentioned this in my reflection, but I think that my final project was very far from what I wanted my project to look like, and I hope this personal narrative corrects that. I want to continue to explore the idea of how we have so many ways that we can choose to present ourselves, and it’s hard to know which of these versions is “real.” So here it is, my return to writing and my return to how-tos:
How to write a personal narrative:
According to Webspiration, there are some essential tips to writing a good personal narrative. Good personal narratives should keep these things in mind:
Write in the first person. Since it’s your story, use “I” to start your sentences.
Include vivid imagery and lots of sensory details. You want the reader to experience the event with you.
Try to use dialogue, which can help you to engage the reader and add realism.
Weave your emotions into your narrative. The reader should know how you felt as the events unfolded.
Frankly I agree with all of these points, but I think it’s much simpler to say than do. I like what this outline promotes, but I don’t know if this advice would really help me write a better narrative. The second source that I checked was slightly more helpful. According to wikihow, to write a personal narrative one should:
focus on a memorable event or moment in your life
expand on an important conflict in your life
think about a particular theme or idea
read examples of personal narratives
I think these are all much better point as they provide general guidelines about how to improve your writing. The other sources I looked at seemed to say similar things, so I took a slightly different route while looking for inspiration.
I take a lot of my tips for writing personal narratives from movies. Movies are like personal narratives as they both tell a story and are meant to make the audience feel something. This is a bit of me going off on a tangent (shocking right?), but I saw a movie trailer this morning that really interested me.
I’m not a big Amy Schumer fan, but the first 30 seconds I felt myself interested as Amy Schumer is a white, blonde, straight, maybe slightly overweight, American woman who continues to push a narrative that she’s horribly unattractive and feels isolated by society, and frankly in her quest to come across as “real” it verges into offensive territory. The beginning starts feeling so honest, but the rest of the movie feels like Schumer showing people how great her life is, and it felt exactly like my first experiment—it even used music that I tried for my video which was an unbelievable weird coincidence. I’m not sure exactly how this relates…but I don’t want my narrative to be like that. Personal narratives should be honest at their very core. Faux honesty is the only thing I want to avoid.. So replicating Schumer’s honesty and storytelling ability but shifting the focus is what I want ot do with my personal narrative. I’m still looking for more sources of inspiration, but I think this is good guidance to know what direction I’m trying to avoid.
My origin piece is something that I wrote in English 125. It was a deeply personal narrative, but I felt like a lot of the things that I discussed–family history, self-esteem, and lack of confidence–were universal themes. My plan for my experiment is to change this personal narrative into a photoessay that reflects how these feelings are universal, and shows the extent that we change who we are. My idea is to create a persuasive photoessay that shows photos on Instagram and the same photos pre-filter. Ideally this would result in a visual that shows people being more honest about who they are.
So here we go…How to write/create a photoessay
To start, I’ve already learned that the guidelines for the genre photoessay are very vague. According to WikiHow, photoessays are great if they are centered around a narrative. I think that my narrative will start off with photos that are very edited and slowly progress to revealing more of who I actually am.
Essentially I want to show how my photos go from this version (which is never seen):
to this version (which was posted on Instagram):
Everything about this process eliminates the flaws, the personality, and the honest truth about who I am. It makes a gray, cold, and cloudy day seem warm and vibrant. I’ve been trying to edit my photos less and less, but it’s not something that I am always consciously thinking about. I don’t know how many of these photos I want to do, but I also want to show how selection is just as important in the process. I might show all the photos from one night and show how there’s about fifteen that we took but I only posted the one that I look the best in.
I’m fear that people might not understand exactly what it is that I want to do, but this ad from Google is really close to my goal. I have seen this ad replicated different times and know that I could really make a compelling argument based on replicating the format. Mine is not an advertisement, but as the Digital Photography School says, placing specific images in a planned order to make a point is a unique quality of the photoessay. I would have these unedited/edited versions of myself and also include photos that I feel really reflect my personality. Anyway, if you’re trying to get a sense of what I’m doing, the video below is a good start.
I love how saturated in emotion this ad is, and I feel like it really captures the entire year of 2017. Like I said, I’m not trying to create an advertisement, but a photoessay will really allow me to create a multimedia project with text and music that ideally will illicit some of the same emotion felt in the ad.
I also plan to copy one of the ads that Apple used for their new iPhone. Similar to the ad above, it uses music to create a feel and pace the entire ad. I want to replicate the same kind of beat that the ad created to really get a certain vibe.
I know that I have defined the photoessay as some loose genre, but that’s because it is. Time Magazine, in a article titled, “How Photographers Are Changing the Definition of the Photoessay,” describes the loosening definition of the genre and emphasizes the importance of a narrative, photos, and possibly text or music.
I fully expect my photoessay to contain photos and videos that aren’t my own, as I want to make this a piece that shows it’s more than just on person. Hopefully I’ve done a decent job explaining where I want this to go, but feel free to shoot me any questions if there’s still confusion.
It’s three in the morning, my hand is bleeding, and there is dirt on my floor. I’m in an oversized Rolling Stones t-shirt and large grey sweatpants, and in the time that I have typed these two sentences, blood has dripped down my hand and settled in the creases of my elbow and is now making its way to my sweatpants. Are these sweatpants my ex-boyfriends or are they my brother’s? It’s three in the morning, there’s dirt on my floor, my hand is bleeding, and my sweatpants shouldn’t matter, but I know they will be the subject of tonight’s all-consuming thought.
My hand is bleeding because I cut it on a can of Trader Joe’s non-fat refried beans. It’s not a fact I’m particularly proud of, but it was a New Years resolution to be more honest, so here it is: my Wednesday night unpacked, refried beans included.
Some time during the initial stages of my writing process (staring at a blank computer) the can of refried beans had fallen off my bed and rolled underneath, and as I reached down to grab it, I cut my hand on the lid and brushed against an unsettling and unanticipated small pile of dirt. And now there’s blood on my grey sweatpants. Or his grey sweatpants. I’d clean up the dirt really, I would, but it’s three in the morning, and this pile of dirt has clearly been under my bed for a while—why disturb it now?
There are so many things I wish I could vocalize, but since I’ve started writing those words have worked their way onto paper. I know my insomnia makes writing at three a.m. a necessity and not an aberration, but why is tonight’s vice sweatpants of unknown origins? Why will I spend hours tonight playing my thoughts on repeat, trying to remember if I’m wearing an article of clothing from a relationship I’d considered dead over a year ago? Why can’t I take a five second break to walk to the bathroom and grab a band aid? Why is there dirt underneath my bed? Is this introduction a little too honest, and is this train of thought too weird? If people judge my writing will I still want to write?
I can’t explain most of the things in my bedroom and I won’t be able to justify who I am, but I’ve started to think about myself and my writing and it’s a good feeling. Writing is where I make sense of things. Writing is where I relieve myself of my worries. I can’t vocalize how I feel when I write a sentence that has a pulsating feel and flows cohesively, but when I’m typing on my computer at three in the morning, nothing can stop me from writing, even a bleeding hand.