Challenge Journal 4

The capstone project was my first attempt at writing fiction. As I write about in my “About the Author” page, I am very used to writing about real, concrete things, be it my experiences, opinions or political data. When writing about personal experiences, you must make decisions about what to include. The author gets to decide what details to highlight, explain further and what characteristics of people to include. When explaining factual information, the author must be sure they are giving enough context that it will make sense to the readers.

When it comes to realistic fiction the authors’ choices are completely different. Rather than deciding what to include, the author is in charge of entirely creating these characters. It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to write fiction. The author must be able to fully picture a scene, accurately describe it and also know what the audience will take away from it based on their opinion, not on experience.

I had a lot of trouble deciding how to end the piece. I had to think of something that would feel like closure for the audience, while also being realistic and not cheesy. I looked online at some open forums for inspiration, but found this part the hardest to think of. I needed the audience to be satisfied and feel like the story was over, while not introducing any new ideas or characters. I had to constantly re-read what I had already written to be sure that the ending was consistent.

Challenge Blog: Peer Review

Peer editing is a great thing. But also a weird thing, at least at this stage in my writing process. The people in this class and this program are brilliant, creative minds. I always want their feedback- until I don’t. I have just turned in a small writing sample. I have written a total of one page for my project and am just not mentally prepared to have it ripped apart yet. My confidence in this piece is so low that I would not be able to defend it. I am also so unfamiliar with it that I do not think I could explain it. I did not make any active decisions yet. I do not know the narrative purpose of what I wrote, even the ending of the story.  I would not be able to answer their questions or explain anything.

I also am still sensitive with my writing at this stage. It is a brand new baby, just beginning to grow and develop. I don’t want to be bombarded with questions and insults (or “suggestions”)  about it. I need positive encouragement because I am still thinking about where it is going. It is not quite ready to enter the real world. I believe that peer review is such a special thing that I would never want to engage in it unauthentically. I could never ask my classmates to hold back in their comments and suggestions, doing so would make the special process superficial. The truth is I just need a little more time with my thoughts and my writing before I am ready to take the heat.  

Challenge: How Do I Know If I’m Finished, and Thoughts on the Word “Final”

There is something about the word final that is scary, permanent. It marks the end of the process; no more drafting, editing, research, revising, rewriting. It makes me question all of my progress thus far. Am I sure this is what I want to turn in? What I want to show for all of my hard work? Seeing “Final Annotated Bibliography” on Canvas is quite nerve wracking. It means the research aspect of this project is over. We are no longer storyboard drafting, thinking of alternatives, asking for feedback, playing with our prompts. It means we have made some sort of concrete progress. We have finished something completely for this final capstone project. We have something to show.

But it also makes me question my work and if I have done enough. Is this really the angle I want to take? I hate to think of the research part as being over because I see myself continuing to research really until my website is published for the final time. I do think I have accumulated a decent amount of sources, but still see myself needing to learn more while I’m writing. Some potential subjects could be how to use dialogue in short stories, what type of narrator to be, how descriptive to get; really the possibilities are endless. How does one know when they are prepared enough to begin? I just hope that I have set myself up for success, and that I have enough sources to finish this project strong.

Challenge Journal: Brain Dump Ritual

My ultimate writing ritual, which I am employing right now, is that I write in minuscule font when creating my first draft. For me, the hardest thing about writing is getting started. How will I begin this life changing research paper about the role of amateur sports in our society? The first draft is the hardest. The challenge is not not having an idea or not knowing what to say, it’s about how to go about correctly articulating it. So for me, it is easier to write without thinking about what I’m writing and go back to it later for editing. By typing in a size six font, single spaced, with dimmed lighting on the screen it is nearly impossible for my bad vision to see what is on the page, and much easier to just keep going, rather than preoccupy myself with judgmental, evaluating thoughts. Naturally, this leads to very sloppy drafts with lots of repetition, spelling mistakes and grammar errors. However, once everything is out there laying on the page, vulnerable to revision, it is much easier to produce a good piece of work than be worrying from the getco how the writing will turn out.

Another perk of this ritual is that once you expand the font you instantly are almost at the page minimum. To me, page requirements are incredibly distracting. Therefore, if I am actively aware of how much I am writing and trying to stretch it to reach this arbitrary threshold, I am not doing my best writing. I am dissecting apostrophes and contractions, not backing up points. When writing to reach a minimum the writers’ focus shifts from developing the argument to elongating sentences. This realization ultimately caused this ritual, and since I’ve begun it has lasted me three years now. It first began when I was confused about what to write about for my Arab-Israeli Conflict final paper. I decided my first draft should take the form of a brain dump and that it would not be a perfect 12-page paper to begin with. This ritual has helped me when many long drafts seem unattainable and giant.

Boiler Plate Lingo

In my opinion, boiler plate language is used as a persuasion technique. It is very vague and used to convince the readers of a certain opinion without giving them any actual, concrete information about that opinion. Often, positive, non-descriptive words are used that are hard to disagree with. Boiler plate language is frequently found on political websites and platforms. Immediately, my mind jumps to politics and campaigns. The sole purpose of campaigning is to convince voters that you are the best choice.

On Hillary Clinton’s website, her  aims are not different from any candidates. For example, she wants to, “Create good-paying jobs” and “strengthen our economy.” After reading that, it’s impossible to disagree. She doesn’t detail how exactly she will create these jobs and strengthen our economy, she just lists her (obvious) objectives.

I think that boilerplate language can be cliche. But not all cliches are boiler plates. Boiler plate language is often repetitive and over-used but not all cliches are meaningless.

 

“Strong”

Before I start my own idea, I wanted to piggyback off of Annmarie’s post about autobiographies. I never have understood the difference between an autobiography and a memoir. Aren’t they both just collections of memories about your life? Why would anyone write an autobiography and not a memoir?

I wanted to talk about the concept of the word “strong.” Teachers always tell you to write “strong,” argumentative essays but what does that mean? In my opinion, when people say they wrote something strong it really means close-minded. It means not considering other opinions or options and staying with your own. It means trying to convince your audience that it’s your way or the highway.

NNTO

A majority of the writing that I do everyday is for communication purposes only. Short e-mails that say everything in the subject line (NNTO=no need to open), texting my mom that I am, in fact, alive and well, telling a friend I’ll be back to the house within five minutes. If not writing for a purpose, I am writing for a class. Either compiling a study guide, taking notes on a textbook, or outlining an essay. Very rarely am I writing just to write.

What makes my writing special is something I have never really thought about. Kind of makes me cringe to think about. Does anyone have time to read my writing anyway? I think one (of hopefully many) distinct thing about my writing that is special is my extensive political knowledge. As a former Senate Page (major points if you know what that is) I have a grasp on American Politics and the legislative process that is very stand-out. I like to think that I convert this experience into a unique, informed opinion on contemporary policy issues.

Aside from political knowledge, I (like to) think that I write with a lot of voice and enthusiasm. I have a very energetic, positive demeanor and like to think that that translates into my writing.

So in attempt to answer this question, my hope is that after reading my writing, the audience will feel a combination of happier, more curious, and smarter.

Remediation Thoughts

Just to recap my re-purposing assignment is writing a feature article for a magazine about Serena Williams as both an athlete and role model. For the remediation project I have a few ideas that I am considering.

First, since my re-purpose on Serena Williams is talking a lot about her body image I think it would be really interesting to use pictures of newspaper headlines and photos that have been used in articles about her. Reporters seem to have an obsession with her “masculine” body so I think there would be a lot of material to work with. A big part of my paper is how the media portrays her so this would be a direct representation of that.

A second way to re-mediate this work would be to have a type of podcast where there are soundbites about her. These soundbites would come from interviews and sports reports about her. It would convey the same message as my article does but with all primary sources.

A third and final way to re-mediate this article could be a slideshow type thing that in a way combines the previous two options. I could make an iMovie that shows pictures while playing relevant soundbites.

Election Season

Other than your expected Facebook stalking and Good Wife marathons on Comcast Xfinity, my internet browsing took an interesting turn. As a die hard political junkie, I spent a lot of my weekend reading (pointless) articles about the ongoing Presidential election.

Since we’re right at the start of the primaries there are still tons of candidates left in the race to over-analyze! There was also a debate over the weekend so there were tons of opinions to read.

The three main websites that I visit for political news are Huffington Post, Politico and Roll Call. However, if I want a feature article about the life of a candidate or something really elaborate about them, I go to the New Yorker. Unfortunately the amount of free articles you can read on their website is limited so I have to choose wisely.

I knew how often I went to news websites but I guess I never truly realized how little other websites I go to. Sorry for the lack of variety!!

Writing Venues: Memoirs

It has become part of my nightly routine to read successful women’s memoirs before going to bed. I do this to give myself a break from screen lights which supposedly inhibit your ability to fall asleep quickly. I’ve checked a significant amount off my list including Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler.

I am currently onto Shonda Rhimes and have I Am Malala lines up next. These books are all very similar and honestly pretty predictable, yet for some reason I keep reading them. All of these women have different writing styles. Their voices are the most crucial and memorable part of the entire book. For instance, it is clear that Shonda Rhimes is a script writer. She uses a ton of line breaks and dialogue. All of the books directly address the audience and actively engage them throughout the duration of it.

Another similarity between all of these memoirs is the introductions. They all follow a very similar formula. They start out by making fun of themselves, usually talking about how narcissistic it is of them to think that anyone would want to read a book about their lives. They joke about how uninteresting they are and how unlike them it is to write a book. Really! They’re just like us! Shy, closed off, timid. Then they go on to describe what will be mentioned from weird drug experiences in college to their worst boyfriends. Some advice is sewn in there and there you have it! A memoir is made and you’re hooked and can’t stop reading.