Is anyone else surprised we finished?

To be honest, I am shocked that this class has already come to an end. Maybe it was the lateness of the semester, the multiple snow days, or simply senioritis, but these past few months have felt like the longest of college, while also feeling like they flew by. After changing my topic late in the game, struggling to balance writing with my other credits, and feeling frustrated with my own inability to generate content, it really is a surprise to me that I was able to finish it.

In typical fashion, I finished very last minute, but I FINISHED. And to me, that is everything. I am proud of what I wrote and did, and while the process to get there was definitely messy, that journey is inherently mine and therefore, valid. Being able to write something vulnerable was really difficult for me, because vulnerability is arguably one of the scariest things on earth, but I did it, and I finally feel comfortable with letting it live and exist on it’s own.

Looking forward, I am thankful for everything I have learned and created in this class. While I will probably never be the type of person who gets things done ahead of schedule, I am confident once again in my ability to get them done, and to feel like a writer even in the face of adversity. In a way, this capstone brought me back to how I felt during gateway, and reflected a lot of the emotions I am feeling in my own life. But thankfully, I have an outlet, in that I can write about those feelings and start to find clarity. For that, I will always be grateful.

Reflecting on what my audience means

After sitting at the capstone showcase just a few days ago and seeing all the incredible work created by some of my gateway friends, I began to reflect back on where I wanted to post my own capstone. I know many others have posted them on facebook or sent them around, but I was nervous about who would read it if I did that. But then, right after the showcase, two of my closest friends (who are well represented in my work) asked to see it and be walked through the entire thing. They were kind and helpful, and actually enjoyed reading it, and we continued talking about it simply as a topic that evening. Not only did that affirm my own pride in my work, but made me realize that this is still a conversation worth having, and just because I finished my project doesn’t mean I will be done with this topic in general. It is a huge part of who I am as a person, and a passion I found grow immensely stronger over the past semester.

I may still be deciding what is the best avenue to share my work with the closest people in my life, but now at least I am reaffirmed in how important that sharing is. I am excited and optimistic about having these conversations with others, and to use my project as a foundation for them.

When you just aren’t in the mood

I woke up this morning with no desire to write or think about my project. I didn’t even want to touch my laptop. It was beautiful outside, and I felt like I had been staring at wix for so long over the weekend the words had all blurred together. So, I didn’t write for a while. I spent the day with my friends, sitting in the Diag, eating lunch outside, and simply hanging out.

And thankfully, that reminded me of why I chose the topic I did in the first place. For a while, I thought the best way for me to get things done was to drive off campus to a coffee shop and sit there for hours, so I wouldn’t be distracted. While this helped for some aspects of my work, it made it hard for me to write about relationships in my life when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say at the moment. So, I decided to take today as a reset to remember why I usually do have so much to say about them, and just enjoy our time together.

I realized that being in the right headspace to write is really important both for me and for the topic I chose, and it isn’t something I can force by isolating myself and trying to push through. As we enter this final stretch (aka stressful crunch time where everything hurts all the time), I hope to continue to find balance and remember that sometimes, you just aren’t in the mood to write, and as a writer, that is okay. Instead of fighting against it, I worked with it today, and now I finally have at least some of the words I was missing earlier.

Post 1 – Sprinting a marathon (and trying not to fall on my face)

The fact that tomorrow is April 1st makes me wish that this project would have an “April Fools!” moment and we would suddenly have another extra, magical month to work on them. If only. I find myself excited when I talk about my project, but paralyzed when I sit down to actually write it. Pairing that with one key member of a podcast section being off in Hawaii for a week with her family, the stress sweats have truly set in.

I’m trying to deconstruct how we as society talk about and express love, and give some much needed attention to other forms of it besides the traditional romantic type. This project has taken many turns as I’ve been creating it, but I finally feel like I have some momentum going forward. Getting feedback from strangers in workshop really helped with seeing what other people think when they first look at my project, as it has started to all blend together in my mind after so many hours thinking about it.

While it may be overwhelming, I’ve tried to keep in mind that this is a labor of love (ha, ha, also the theme of my project). I have so many thoughts on my topic, and so do others, so I’m trying my best to capture those thoughts and turn them into relevant reading and listening materials. So, my goal for this week is to write, as much as possible, and play around with the material I have recorded for podcasts to see what is usable. If anyone has had success with podcasts involving multiple people and can help with keeping people on track and not interrupting each other, I would love to learn your secrets!

Advice for future gateway students (In buzzfeed form)

1. Be present.

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It’s easy to get distracted thinking about other work, life, your current netflix obsession, etc. However, try to spend the three hours per week of the gateway focused on the gateway. So much is covered in every class, and being engaged in what is happening will allow you to get the most out of this class and grow the most in your writing.

2. Don’t feel trapped by past drafts.

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With projects that are as open-ended as the repurposing and remediation are, it can be stressful to have so much freedom, and I personally struggled with feeling like I had to make my project fit in with my original production plan even though it felt like it should be moving in a new direction. Trust the process, and don’t feel like you are locked in to your very first idea or format for a project. If things change, or you find yourself moving in a new direction, embrace it! If you feel stuck, especially with project 2, it can be really helpful to take some time and read through your original material-you never know when inspiration will strike and give you momentum or direction.

 

3. USE YOUR FELLOW WRITERS.  new girl help nick miller help me new girl quotes GIF

From teachers who aren’t intimidated when you email them at 3am to classmates who can teach you how to add a PDF to your wix site, there are SO many resources available to support you in this class. Realize that this class is not going to be a typical class (in a good way) and embrace the small-group feeling of it, and never be afraid to ask for assistance.

 

4. Stop thinking about what everyone else is doing.

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Once again, this class has a ton of freedom. That being said, everyone’s work is different!! While you may be writing a short story, someone else is writing a personal narrative, and someone else is writing a poem. This is not to say you shouldn’t support each other, but rather saying that you should embrace the differences in your projects and take pride in your own instead of stressing out about someone else being “farther along” on their piece. Learn from each other, help each other, but don’t try to compare progress (someone else’s final project may be 10 pages and yours is 2. that is okay. find what works for YOU).

 

5. Let yourself be excited about your writing.  tv happy excited celebration the office GIF

And, ignore anybody who says you shouldn’t be. The gateway gives you a built-in support network of people who have (and want) to listen to your writing, so use it! You might be surprised, but everyone actually cares about your work (shocking, I know) and wants to hear about it! Let yourself be nerdy about writing, and have fun with it.

 

To all the future MiW Students, I hope you are excited!  happy excited nice awesome screaming GIF

Actual footage of me leaving my last ever gateway class: mrw look bye reddit profile GIF

Welcome to the minor in writing club, make us proud.

Uni Uni Unicorn

Friday was always Unicorn day. When I was three, I was pushed in a stroller from kids camp to the old arts and crafts building, and some counselor sat me on her lap as we sang and waited patiently for the wizard to arrive. To be clear, I have no memory of this, but thats what all the pictures from my first year at camp seem to describe. Every year, we sang. From Princess Pat to the Baby Shark song, by the time I was 6 we knew every single word. Paper plates were decorated and rolled into horns, and we wore them on our heads all morning long in anticipation. The unicorn was magical until I was about 7, when I could see that it was probably just a horse and that the wizard looked suspiciously like the same girl who had held the reigns during my riding lesson that morning, just with a fancy cape and hat. When I turned 11, my friends and I were in the right place at the right time, and we got to help transform a horse into a unicorn, equipped with finger paint and glitter. We spent hours in the barn, oblivious to the scent of manure or how badly we were staining our hands, as we worked hard to make a beautiful unicorn for the little kids. Each year, how I felt about the unicorn changed: from pure awe, to pride in helping out, to being just a little bit too cool for it, to accepting that we weren’t actually cool and letting the preteen girls paint our faces, and finally to screaming at the top of my lungs with my best friends as a counselor. I can’t wait until I can roll my own children up in a stroller, and watch their faces as the unicorn rides by. Even if it is just a horse with some paint and a counselor with a wig and cape, the Unicorn will always be magical, and Friday will always be Unicorn day.

A Messy Process

How I Write

            Every piece of my writing starts off with one very important phone call. To my mother. Not to ask for help, but rather because she is always willing to listen to me. She serves as a sounding board, allowing me to ramble on and on about my possible ideas and helps me narrow down my thoughts into something resembling a coherent outline. During one such phone call, I managed to flip positions on the issue I was writing about three times before I settled on an argument, and luckily my mother was patient enough to let to me argue with myself.  Before I can write anything on paper, I first need to talk about it. A lot. Luckily, venting my thoughts out to my mom usually results in me discovering thoughts I didn’t even know I had. Saying everything out loud helps me figure out what actually makes sense and what is a random point that doesn’t connect to anything, and this preparation time also puts me in the mindset to write.

Once I have my thoughts somewhat processed, I start from the top. Well, slightly below the top. After writing “insert clever/witty/interesting title here!!” at the top of the page, I attempt to write my introduction. This is usually the worst part of the process. The first few sentences, trying to start out with something that sounds interesting, quirky, or at least coherent. I have never been the type of writer who could write the introduction last, or jump around to different sections of a piece of writing. In order for me to make real progress on anything, the introduction has to be at least decent. This is where the bulk of my procrastination occurs; I never feel more of a drive to clean my room or go work out as when I have the weight of a paper pressing down on me. Once I have something down for the first few sentences, everything flows much easier, and I can churn out a rough draft to promptly rip apart. Said draft is usually a colorful mess. Colorful, because I’m a big fan of the magical aspect of Microsoft Word that lets me change font colors. Purple marks a sentence that is worded weirdly, blue means it seems like it is out of place or could fit better somewhere else, red says oh my goodness please edit that terrible horrible thing before you turn this in. Marking up the paper as I write helps keep everything clear, in a weird way. I never want to delete things right away, but if I turn them red I can often go back and find some merit in what I wrote. I can recognize what makes sense, and am painfully aware of the structure or lack thereof.

All in all, my writing process is messy, both in my need to say things out loud to see if they sound right and in being a little trigger happy when it comes to changing the text color. It takes time to sift through the junk to find the things that I like about my writing, but if I don’t make it messy first, there is no way for me to clean it up.

 

Writing 220 Introduction: Ellie Flom

Hey hey hey,

My name is Ellie and I am a sophomore studying Business. I also have very little direction as to what exactly I want to do within business, so feel free to HMU with any and all advice and expertise.

When I entered college, I expected English 125 to be the beginning and the end of my writing career. It ended up being my favorite class.  For me, writing had always been more of a private and personal pursuit. If I was upset, or confused, or even just plain pissed off, I would write about it in a journal. Ranting on paper was an outlet that let me express my feelings without any consequences, and I often discovered things I didn’t even know I was feeling until I had written it down. My relationship with writing was so personal, in fact, that I was always scared to let others read what I had written. In English 125, however, we focused heavily on peer review-which, due to my fear of someone else reading my writing and promptly hating it, terrified me at first. It took a while, but through this class I learned how to just write unapologetically, and this experience is what inspired me to keep writing through the minor. My previous english classes have helped me learn how to write with purpose and ask “so what?” in regards to every argument I make, and I expect the MIW will expand my thinking even more and help me discover more about myself through my writing.

Some other things about me: Outside of school, I enjoy singing in the U of M Women’s Glee Club and looking at pictures of dogs. Also, I have always loved heights; I spent my summer working on a high ropes challenge course and zipline, and have also gone cliff jumping and skydiving.

Here’s to a great semester!