Pitching A Project

To Whom it May Concern:

Deaths from drug overdose have been rising steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States, causing more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. Each day, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and approximately 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the abuse and recreation use of illicit drugs. Unfortunately, these numbers are only increasing, and often times, those that are affected do not have adequate access to recovery-based treatment programs.

In our society, addiction is typically portrayed as being unacceptable, and for that reason, people suffering from substance abuse disorders often refrain from seeking necessary treatment. However, the reality is that addiction affects everyone; the rich, the poor, the young, the old, mothers, fathers, and even children. Although it is easy for people who have never been affected by drugs or alcohol to look down upon people who are suffering from substance abuse as a result of society’s warped construction, every addict’s story is unique. And therefore, it is my desire to describe a select few of these stories through my short creative fiction story targeted towards readers lacking empathy and understanding for the disease of addiction.

“Why is that necessary?” you may ask, but when I said addiction affects everyone, I mean it affects everyone. In the United States alone, the total costs of addiction is estimated at $524 billion a year, where illicit drug use alone accounts for $181 billion in health care, productivity loss, crime, incarceration and drug enforcement. Thus, it is of integral importance that society views addiction as a public health issue, as a means of both global harm and cost reduction. The perspectives afforded by my short account (approximately 20-30 pages) of addiction are important now more than ever as a result of the projected increase in the substance abusing population, and the relevance regarding current social constructions of addiction.

To communicate the importance of this topic, I plan to use both textual (in the form of the story) and graphic (in the form of photographs) elements to evoke emotion, and subsequently empathy from my readers. In addition to the obvious necessity of this work, my experience writing with regards to addiction and substance abuse provides an excellent opportunity to write about a topic I am very familiar with in a new way. Although I think many authors have the ability to write about addiction, it is always those that have personal experience with addiction who are able to do it best. I have never experienced substance abuse firsthand, however I spend 24 hours a week working with addicts in a detoxification program. Additionally I spend four hours weekly volunteering with incarcerated women through the narcotics anonymous program. These experiences have allowed me to gain the perspective necessary to write this piece in a way those without direct experience could not.

In addition to my drive to convey this very important message to those without personal experience in the field, my genuine passion and interest for this topic make this project ideal for the showcasing of my writing abilities, which I hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate to you. Thank you for taking the time to consider my project and I am eagerly awaiting your correspondence.

Sincerely,

Erin E. Page

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

Wow. I can’t imagine I am the only one who is slightly overwhelmed by the freedom we have been given with the capstone project. The possibilities are literally endless. But, after talking extensively with Sarah, I feel like I have narrowed down my potential list of topics to a manageable number. Manageable being loosely defined, of course.

After explaining my background in research and general interests, both academically and personally, I feel like we landed on a few really great ideas. In addition to suggesting I write about one of my research projects, it seemed like Sarah really understood my interests and made an effort to integrate two or more of them into a single project. For example, one topic that I would consider perusing is the development of a “mock” grant to conduct research on the topic that interests me, drug addiction. She also suggested that I create a blog detailing my experience I had during my study abroad program. Although this is an interesting idea, I think the proposed grant project applies to my future endeavors in writing. I think experience in research and my interest in the topic of addiction led Sarah to the idea of a project that combines two of my greatest interests.

Based on this experience, I think that I have learned a new way to solicit advice from my peers. Instead of simply asking of suggestions, talking about our interests and type of writing we enjoy, I feel as though we were able to come up with genuine ideas for one another. After talking to Sarah, I think if I do not decide to work with the grant proposal idea, I am definitely going to try and incorporate more than one of my interests into my final project.

Reflection

In  all honesty, I can’t believe that this semester is already coming to a close; it feels like it’s just begun! As a pre-medical student, I never though that I would be excited to take yet another writing class, but this semester has changed my mind drastically. Professor Manis has given us the freedom to develop as writers in the way that we see fit. This freedom has allowed me to explore different types of writing that I have never been give the chance to experiment with otherwise.

As we are nearing the end of the term, I can speak for every single one of us when I say that I have an unreasonable amount of work to do. We all have exams, papers, assignments, and presentations due left and right, which makes it very difficult for us to succeed academically. Unfortunately, that’s the Michigan Difference. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the University of Michigan and everything this school has to offer, but I often times find myself so worried about a letter grade that I forget what is truly important: learning. In my English 125 course, I catered each of my essays around exactly what my professor wanted me to write about. I hated writing papers for that class because I never felt as though I was truly expressing myself. In Writing 200, I have felt more than encouraged to experiment with different types of writing, whether it is serious, personal, or even satirical. This freedom has allowed me to forget about a letter grade and focus more heavily on the act and art of writing itself.

Although professor Manis does grade us based on our performance, and give us A/B/C/D grades on our essays, she makes it very clear that she just wants us to write, and be comfortable writing. That in it of itself has been the single most important experience that I can take away from this course. I have always been driven to excel in school, which in my mind often correlates to obtaining “A’s”…but what does an “A” really mean? It means that you were able to recite a specific fact on a specific day. There is no way to truly gage one’s knowledge of a subject, and because of that, grading seems rather silly doesn’t it? Professor Manis has done an incredible job of making me feel like I can write about whatever I want, without the fear failure (which, if any of you have taken organic chemistry, the looming fear of failure is almost always present).

We all are in the process of developing our writing skills, and it’s scary. It’s scary to get to know yourself on such an intimate level. It’s scary to feel insecure about your writing. It’s scary to try new techniques. But that’s what we’re here to do- to push ourselves. So, just remember:

So I guess I will leave you all with that fact that grades are important, and I’m not trying to abolish the grading scale. But at what point do “grades” start having a negative impact on the creativity and expression of students? Debate.

Awaiting the Hunger Games

And the countdown is finally coming to a close, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve been awaiting March 23 for quite some time now. Since the first of four Hunger games movies is set to release this Friday, it got me thinking: Are movies or books better? Now, I know that is an almost impossible question to answer but I thought it could offer an interesting debate.

More-so than the actual form of media, I think that the experience of reading a book or watching a movie really determines if you like the book or the movie better so here’s my opinion…

So, what is reading? For me, reading a book is an irreplaceable feeling. You can allow yourself to be completely immersed within the pages, absorbing each and every detail the author choses to provide. These descriptions allow you to become the artist and paint a one-of-a-kind picture in your head of what you think is going on, regardless of how others may interpret it. Typically, time spent reading is time spent alone with your thoughts, where you are able to reflect on so much more than just the novel in your hand. Even more so, reading (for me, at least) leads to relaxation.

Keeping those thing in mind, what is a movie? To me, watching a movie is an experience that fully engulfs the reader into a predetermined and pre-described world. The element of reader interpretation is lost. However, watching a movie allows you to understand the novel on a number of different levels that you may have not gotten from the book (at least in my opinion). Instead of being an activity that you do on your own, going to the movies is typically something that you do with other people…which has a huge impact on whether or not you enjoy the film. For example, say all of your friends don’t like a movie and voice their opinion to you, you are more likely to see things that are wrong with the movie than you did before they said anything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think reading a book is a more personal, honest experience. You don’t have to explain to your friends why you liked it or why you didn’t, it’s just you, your imagination, and the pages in front of you. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good movie (and am beyond excited to see the Hunger Games), but I personally believe the books are usually better. What do you guys think?

How I Write

First and formost, I was slightly confused about the new blog policy (I thought I was in group 3, my bad) so this post is a week late, but I will continue posting at the correct time for group 1 starting next week! Thanks for understanding!

I have to be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited to attend last night’s “How I Write” event at first. However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Professor Bacon was, by far, one of the most enthusiastic and involved speakers I have seen recently. His passion for the subject of writing was so evident, which I think was ultimately the cause of my draw towards his speech. However, the fact that he is a successful author itself didn’t grab my interest initially. As he was explaining his life story, I found myself becoming more and more impressed. He has lead such an interesting life in which he has come over a variety of different obstacles, but somehow always finds a way to remain positive and embraces these challenges. Not only, did he overcome these obstacles, but he also never wavered in his decision to become a writer which I find very impressive because I feel like I want to change my major every other day.

In addition to his really inspiring speech, he gave us some great advice that I think can be summed up in this picture:

Keep Calm and Write Your Damn Book

Bacon really pushed the idea of just simply writing. Write when you’re bored, write for fun, write for an hour a day. I mean, that’s how he started writing, and look at him now! His story how he first began writing was hilarious. Not necessarily for content value, but more-so for his ability to relate to us as students. I am sure I am not the only person here who has come home from a party and remembered that I needed to submit a homework assignment before the next morning…I have to say, that was probably not my best work, but hey, it’s a first draft. I think that this is what Bacon was going for: EVERY first draft is shitty. Regardless of your writing conditions or mind capacity at the time of writing, your first draft is never going to be flawless. Even your final draft may never be flawless entirely, and I think that this is the take-home message of Bacon’s talk. Just write. And I think I might be taking a bit of his advice.

I like this prompt:)

Hey guys! I am actually really excited that we get to talk about anything we want this week because I have really been struggling with an essay that I am writing, and could really use some help. I thought the reading we did in class today was really awesome, because it is so relevant to the re-purposing essay that we are writing. That being said, I am struggling to connect with my audience on a different piece that I am working on outside of class. If you guys remember, very early on in the reading, the author talks about addressing your audience correctly with the heart muscle analogy.  I am currently writing a very similar scientific essay that needs to be read and evaluated by a board of doctors, science professors, humanities professors, and even simply members of the community. I am having a really hard time addressing my audience because they all come from such a different background about the material I am trying to present. I guess I am having trouble explaining my research to the people without much background in the topic of head and neck cancer and radiation therapies, while at the same time, appealing the doctors or science professors. The same problem arises in the opposite context, where I could use medical language and terminology to appeal to the doctors, but then most likely lose the interest of those who wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I want to give you guys an idea of what I am writing, because I know we all come from much different backgrounds, and I think you could give me some great feedback regarding my strengths and weaknesses. Here is an excerpt of the paper, which is currently just over 6 pages (single spaced) long. If you think I need to tone it down a bit, PLEASE let me know!

“A staggering 35,000 patients are expected to develop Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) each year. The standard of treatment for HNC currently involves radiotherapy of the affected region, however the detriments of this procedure are undeniable. Bone that has undergone radiotherapy is weakened, as bone growth and strength are suppressed within each individual bone cell. As a result, a number of HNC patients 1) develop a condition known as osteoradionecrosis (ORN) where bone dies as a complication of radiotherapy, 2) experience a pathologic fracture, a fracture that occurs as a result of weakened bone due to radiation or 3) develop a non-union, where blood flow to the bone is diminished. Our research seeks the use of preventative treatments, for example, two revolutionary drugs known as Amifostine (AMF) and Deferoxamine (DFO), as a replacement for the currently accepted invasive treatments of ORN, pathologic fractures, and non-unions. Using a rat model, we will simulate the conditions of HNC by administering radiation to the left mandible (jaw bone) of each subject. We will then surgically induce a pathologic fracture using a technique known as an osteotomy where we will saw through the bone completely behind the third molar of each subject. After the osteotomy, we will implant a distraction device, which allows us to pull apart the facture site, thereby simulating the effects of a true pathologic fracture. The subjects will be monitored for a 40-day consolidation period before anaylsis. The global hypothesis of our research is that the negative side effects of radiation can be prevented or reversed with therapeutic manipulations to allow for prophylaxis of ORN, radiotherapy induced non-unions and pathologic fractures.”

I am really looking forward to your feedback! Also, if anyone is interested in the research we are doing, I would be more than happy to discuss it further outside of class.

As for how I feel right now:

 

I guess I need to buy some scotch tape

I truly enjoyed the ability to speak with Melody last night regarding the process of writing her Ph.D. thesis. Although I have never been asked to write an essay of that magnitude, I appreciated the advice and insight she was able to provide in terms of completing such an arduous project. I specifically remember asking her about her writing process, and if she had any specific habits or quirks, as I have a few myself. For starters, in order for me to write successfully, I have to be in my bed, which is where I seemingly always have my deepest thoughts. In addition, I have to be listening to music, specifically anything Eminem from “The Slim Shady LP” to “Recovery”. For some reason, Eminem’s creativity and honesty really inspires me to be able to say exactly what I want to say, however in a much less vulgar manner. Although she doesn’t have a specific place that she likes to write, she went into a detailed explanation of her editing process. Any time she is suffering from writers block, or simply feels lost in her own writing, she takes a break, prints out her essay, and tapes it to the wall. From there, she makes her edits, and is physically able to move pieces of the essay from one place to another, or scrap certain pieces all together. I remember her saying that she likes to be able to physically see the entire piece, because it reminds her that it is, in fact, “bigger than her”. I found that statement really inspiring because it clearly shows that she is extremely passionate about her work. That got me to thinking about a research proposal that I am in the process of writing.

Being able to see the entire project in front of me might make it easier to digest, organize, and edit.

For some reason, I tend to forget that my scientific writing “counts” as writing, because when I think about writing, I tend to think of a writing paper with an intro, thesis, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion analyzing one specific topic. However, the more I think about it, my research proposal is exactly that. I have an intro, thesis (hypothesis), supporting paragraphs (such as procedure, and why the research matters), and a conclusion (expected results). Research is something that I am extremely passionate about, but I don’t think I have ever correlated this passion to the passion that I have for writing. As a biology major, I never thought that I would need to develop my writing skills further than to a basic level, however I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Writing is such an important part of science that ultimately leads to a plethora of scientific advances that would never have been made without these skills. Melody talking about her thesis, and how it is “bigger than her” made me realize that my research writing is much bigger that me on so many levels. I am simply conducting research, and writing about it…but what does that mean? It means that the final product of my writing will be subjected to “The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal”, where it may be published and reviewed by my peers and superiors where it could be further researched. This research, in my case, will ultimately lead to improved clinical treatments and bone fracture prevention in patients suffering from head and neck cancer. The ability to help patients of all ages recover faster, and more efficiently through writing is SO much bigger than me. I guess a 15 page research proposal isn’t necessarily bigger than me, but the implications of that paper is infinitely bigger than me. So, thanks to Melody, I guess it’s about time to break out the scotch tape!

So, about this whole “blogging” thing…

I have to admit, I was not thrilled with the idea of posting in a blog every week on the first day of class. I’ve tried it before, and it has never seemed to be an appropriate creative outlet for me. However, I am definitely pleased with the way our class blog has been going thus far, because it has allowed me to get to know my classmates on a more personal, yet somewhat casual level. Specifically, I think the blog has made it much easier for me to work collaboratively with my peer group.

In regards to Sullivan’s article, I can’t say that I initially thought there was much of a difference between “writing” and “blogging” but it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I recently found myself thinking about blogs that I frequently read, when Perez Hilton’s website came to mind (…don’t judge me). I then realized that Sullivan’s article brought up an extremely valid point: a huge difference between writing and blogging is that we, as an audience, expect real time results in terms of current events. For example, immediately following the superbowl halftime performance I hopped on Perez to see his analysis of the show, only to find out that Madonna was lip synching and M.I.A. apparently flipped off the camera! Although this information may not be vital to my life in any  way, shape, or form, I still expected it to at my disposal immediately.

In terms of my repurposing essay, I chose to work with a piece that I wrote for my philosophy class last term regarding the immorality of adderall use on college campuses to enhance academic performance. The original piece was geared more-so around the question: is it immoral, or is it not immoral to use these prescription drugs. However, I hope to repurpose my essay as an argumentative piece targeted at students regarding why they should not take these drugs, because although it is not specifically adressed by the university, using prescription neuro-enhancers is, in fact, analogous to cheating.

Although I am sure that many of you watched the superbowl earlier tonight, I have to admit that I was tuned into animal planet all evening watching the notorious Puppy Bowl VIII. If you haven’t heard of it, it is probably the best television program broadcasted all year, here’s a clip from kitten halftime…please tell me Madonna and LMFAO are better than this!

I’ll leave you guys on that note! See you all in class tomorrow!

Better Get Started…

Wow. After reading through some of the portfolios from the fall cohort, I am left completely speechless. I have never been an avid blogger, or for that matter writer, so the thought of creating a portfolio as polished and put together as those I have seen seems quite overwhelming. Although I look forward to seeing where this projects takes me, and where it ends up, in all honesty, it seems pretty unattainable as of this moment.

I’d have to say the thing that surprised me the most was variety of writing I saw in the portfolios. It appears as though we are able to include any piece of writing in our portfolio that we choose, which I think will be challenging, yet expressive of our own unique personalities and styles outside of this particular course. Although we haven’t done a ton of writing for this course as of yet, the writing we have done, specifically the “why I write” piece will be very helpful, and more or less the foundation for when we create our portfolios.

However, I definitely think that I am worried about the process of creating the online portfolio more so than the assembly of the actual content. I am not a tech savvy person, so the idea of creating a webpage with pictures and drop-down menus seems pretty much impossible. Just the other day in class, Joey and Sal had to teach me how to rotate a PDF file on my computer so I could read it without turning my computed sideways. Like I said, technologically challenged. On an average day, my relationship with technology usually ends in the same manor as the scene in office space with the fax machine. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should (I would link the full clip, however the language is rather vulgar, so if you’re interested, check it out for yourself!). That being said, I think the portfolio will be a great way for me to explore new horizons in the field of technology…perhaps with a little help from a friend!

In terms of the actual content in the portfolio, I am slightly concerned about showcasing my rough drafts. I am a bit self-conscious about my writing, and I know that my first draft, second draft, third draft etc. are simply not good. Thus, I feel as though having others read these pieces is not an accurate reflector of my writing capabilities. However, I know that drafts are an important part of the writing process and it may be interesting for readers to see how certain pieces of writing developed from start to finish. Realizing how much work I will need to put into this portfolio has been an extremely important part of this blog assignment, because I think I severely underestimated the amount of time it is going to take. So, I guess I better get started!

What Happened to Passion?

As I was reading the required pieces for this week, I found myself rather intrigued by Deborah Brandt’s “How Writing is Remaking Reading”, because it is true for all of us. At least in my case, reading the work of other authors, without a doubt, has contributed significantly to my writing process and overall style of writing. Without a prior set of exemplary academic writing, it would be difficult for me to grasp what I ought to write about and how I ought to go about doing so.  This is not to say that I am incapable of coming up with my own ideas, but rather that these previous academic essays have allowed me to further develop my own writing skills. Thus as Brandt hypothesizes, when I write academically, I try to emulate or remake readings that I have read in the past with the addition of my own ideas and my own voice.

Although I agree with Brandt in some respects, I found a singular quote rather from the reading rather disturbing. Brandt explains that, “…writing has always been for work, for production, for output, earning, profit, publicity, practicality, record keeping, buying and selling…” (Brandt 164). However, in my “Why I Write” essay, I firmly deny each and every single one of these claims. While many authors write for an audience, to be heard, or create change, I simply do not. I write for me. And as selfish as that may be, I have to say that it is much less corrupt and selfish than writing simply for monetary gain or fame. To me it seems the freedom and art of writing in novels, blogs, tabloids, and even academic essays has become damaged by the façade of becoming rich and famous.

Almost every time I discuss my desire to attend medical school, it seems as though people always question my motives, some variation of “You shouldn’t become a doctor just because you want to make a lot of money.” Although monetary gain isn’t remotely close to the reasons I am interested in pursing a career in the medical field, I cannot say the same for others. However, if becoming a doctor to become rich is so frowned upon in our society, how come becoming a writer to become rich or famous isn’t? What happened to the desire to write for passion, or the desire to become a doctor to help people? It seems like our society has really lost touch with what is important, and although I can’t say I disagree with Brandt’s entire piece, I firmly disagree with the fact that writing is about fame, money, and work in the same way that I disagree with the fact that being a doctor is about money, and being respected.

In all honesty, as much as people disrespect Eminem for his vulgarity, I think he is one of the few people out there who has it right. Unlike the majority of musicians and other famous people in general, he doesn’t enjoy or desire fame, h simply loved writing and manipulating language, and this skill would eventually propel him to the highest level of fame. Here’s a great example of his skill when it comes to language. Take a second before you watch the clip and think of a word that rhymes with orange…I bet you can’t, but Eminem can!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFyFY9oe2Ig

In a recent interview, Eminem said “I would take it back to where I made a comfortable living. I would just make music, have people appreciate it, even if it’s a few people that like it, and be able to walk to a mall, walk to a store.” His only desire has been to make music, because it is something he is passionate about, not to make money or be famous. This is further demonstrated by the fact that he only performs at a select few locations each year, is rarely seem at any celebrity awards ceremonies or in tabloids, and still lives in Michigan! More or less, my point is that passion should be the driving force behind any type of career choice, be it writing, acting, singing, or becoming a doctor. This is not to say that ALL authors or ALL doctors do this, but I feel like it is a rising theme in our society today that is more than preventable if we chose to take action. What do you guys think?