So…This is the End…?

Just kidding!! THERE IS NO END TO WRITING!!!!! #justonemoresentence

However, this is the end of fun and not stressful times in Writing 420 and the end of our time in the minor.

I feel kind of like this…



But then again my e-portfolio and capstone project are complete so I also feel kind of like this…




Also, this is cool:


Five Things I learned From W2 With Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke, author of nine novels and nine books of poetry, shared some wonderful tips and read several poems and an excerpt from a book she is working on at last week’s Writer to Writer event at Literati. Plus, shout out to Shelley for killing the mc/radio host game!!

So, here are the top five things I took away from the interview..

1. Write every day – no matter what the circumstances, set aside even just a few minutes to write. Otherwise, you will lose the obsession and forget what you’re even writing about.

2. Writer’s block doesn’t mean not writing – it means putting words on a page that you just might not like. Laura explained that she has been writing for over a year and just now finally feels like she knows what her novel is about and where it is going.

3. Writing allows you to always have something to think about – whether your stuck in traffic, walking to class, or falling asleep at night. Writers have the pleasure of always brainstorming and thinking about their current work.

4. Poetry can sound a lot like fiction – maybe it’s because the last time I wrote a poem was in 5th grade, but I’ve always had this misconception that poems have to be abstract and full of figurative language. In reality, the poems Laura read us were about every day occurrences (like almost running someone over or coughing on her hand before turning in a paper) and besides a sort of flow or rhythm to them they sounded otherwise quite similar to fiction.

5. Laura enjoys writing about sex and death – “is there really anything else?”




Scroll On!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I originally came up with the idea to create a vertically scrolling e-portfolio to match the step by step format of my developmental essay. I really wanted my portfolio to start in one place and end in another. So this week I decided to go ahead and draft a vertically scrolling e-portfolio. It was certainly tedious to make, but I figured the only way I’d ever decide if I actually liked the idea was to just try it and see. Now that I’m so invested in it I could really use some outside feedback. Does you like it? Do you hate it? Is it a hassle? Please let me know!

There are a ton of work-in-progress elements that I still need to clean up. The last sections aren’t finished, and some of the buttons don’t work yet…but just ignore that if possible! The colors are also a hot mess. You can barely see many of the side buttons against the blues but I was too lazy to go through and change everything just yet. But, in terms of color, does starting with a light shade and having it get progressively darker until my capstone project section matches the header work? Or is it too bland/monotonous? Would you prefer sections to be different colors all together? Also, the reflective writing above each piece is a portion of my developmental essay. This is from the first draft, so the final portfolio will have the revised essay and some better transitions. Still, how do you feel about the developmental essay split up in this way? There is also no about me page. I personally don’t mind this because I hate about me pages and I’ve defined my audience as a more personal group — friends, family, classmates, and the Sweetland grader — so I won’t be using it for professional purposes. Still, do you think it should have an about me page? Lastly, does the site fit your internet page? I’m having trouble with how wide to make it…right now it fits my screen but I’m curious to see what it looks like on other people’s screens or one of the larger screens in class.

Wow…sorry for so many questions! Any and all feedback is welcome!

Here’s the link:

Not sure exactly how this works but here is the “feedback” link that Blake suggested:

Some Early Capstone Portfolio Thoughts

At first I was considering revising my gateway portfolio, but then I had a new idea to create a “vertically scrolling” or “long scrolling” website. I’m still not 100% sure if this idea will be effective or even work out, but here’s what I’m thinking:

My developmental essay unfolds in a very linear progression. I start in one place and point out many essays along the way that have step by step gotten me to who I am as a writer and who I aspire to be as a writer moving forward. As a result, I think that a vertically scrolling portfolio could work as an interesting way to guide my viewer through this development in the exact way I want them to. As the viewer scrolls the developmental essay would be split up as the introduction/reflection to the piece, then the piece would appear, then the next section of my developmental essay, and so on. Each “page” would be a different color as you scroll so there is at least a little something breaking up the otherwise constant scrolling.





In this vision, there would be no option to click around to different essays/pages out of order. The viewer would be forced to to walk through this journey as I present it. However, I wonder if as a viewer this would be annoying. Would your attention be kept until the end? Would you be willing to scroll through or would I lose viewers half way? I considered having buttons to skip to a different page, but this kind of defeats the whole purpose so I feel a bit torn. I would also need to figure out where the about me section would go. Right now it doesn’t really make sense to put it at the beginning or the end, so this is something I need to think about.

Anyone have thoughts or experiences with vertical websites? I’d love to hear them!


My Capstone Project Is…

A fictional short story!


It revolves around a high school soccer team and an collision that lands the goalkeeper, Jackson, in a comma during the semi-final state championship game. The story is not really about Jackson or his recovery, but rather about the way it affects the two most important people in his life: his best friend on the team, Nathan, and his mom (name TBD). The story explores the controlling power of sports which leaves the characters confused, frustrated, and desperate to understand why they love the sport so much and keep going back to it even though it’s the reason for the horrible injury and their sadness.

That, I realize, was quite a dramatic description. But dramatic is what I’m going for, so now the only issue will be translating all of these powerful struggles and messages I have in my head into a genre I am completely unfamiliar with. I’ve never been a huge reader and certainly never written fiction so this project choice is definitely a stretch for me. Yet at the same time, I realize that at this point in my life it’s up to me to push myself to explore new genres of writing. English 325 was a huge turning point  in terms of writing something besides academic assignments like research papers or critical analyses so I hope that a fictional story will be the perfect cap to this new appreciation and exploration of creative writing.

In terms of a model, I’ve been looking into anthologies like “Sports Best Short Stories” but still don’t feel like I’ve landed exactly on the model I’m looking for. Anyone have any thoughts?

Overall I’m certainly “dreaming big” with this project. In reality… I have no idea how close to my original vision it will actually be. I’ve already learned that there are many intricacies to short stories that make them very different than a novel or tv show, which is where I originally drew much of my inspiration. So, if anyone likes to write short stories and has experience with fiction writing I’d love to hear from you about any strategies (early planning, plot and character creation, drafting, revising, etc) you’ve used!

Pitching a Currently Titleless Short Story

Nathan knew how to do one thing. He knew how to step on to 110 yards of freshly mowed grass and remove every outside thought from his brain. For 90 minutes he knew how to not think; or rather, he knew how to only think about one thing: soccer. Not a single distracting thought passed through his mind, and that was what made him so good. It was his ability to separate himself as a soccer player from himself as a person, a student, a son, a brother, and a friend. On the field, in that solace of safety, nothing else existed. He did not hear the fans cheering or announcer’s voice booming. When Nathan stepped on to the field his mind entered a state of pure clarity in which the only thing that existed was soccer.

That was the case until September 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm. For a split second Nathan allowed an outside thought to sneak in to his flawless state of focus. Damn, it’s fucking cold out. That was all it took as #14 of the Carson High Wildcats executed a perfect maradona spin, darted past him, and left Nathan chasing a second behind. What ensued in the following 30 seconds left the Ridgemont Panthers in complete shock, fear, and disarray.

I present to you a fictional short story documenting these 30 seconds in which Jackson, Nathan’s best friend and the top goalkeeper in the state, dives for the ball, miscalculates, and slams his head into the ice cold, metal goal post. In the following 48 hours as he lies motionless in a hospital bed those around him agonize, struggle to cope, and face unbearably hard decisions. Relationships are tested and life as they know it is questioned.

This short story will be reminiscent of works such as Friday Night Lights and The Art of Fielding, where life off the field is just as critical and engaging as moments on the field. Yet in the vast world of sports stories with prominent themes such as perseverance, dedication, and overcoming adversity, this story will present a unique perspective. Themes such as decision-making and guilt will be explored as the characters begin to see how powerful of a role soccer plays in their lives, almost to a negative point of control.

This story will be geared towards an audience of sports fans who can enjoy and relate to the soccer game descriptions and power of sports, yet at the same time it will also have a larger audience in mind. Those who don’t care about sports at all can still engage with the characters and their situation. Despite the high school setting, this story is geared towards a mature audience rather than children or teens. Ideally, it will attract readers in their twenties and older.

As the author of this short story I am an avid sports fan and athlete, I stand at a point in my life where decision-making is of utmost importance, and I have experienced tragedy and loss in areas aside from sports. Molding these three aspects together position me as an insightful and passionate author for this short story.

The Power of Perspectives

I have an actual, debilitating fear of choosing a topic. The amount of times I’ve complained, “I don’t know what to write about” too anyone in the nearest vicinity is embarrassingly high. The majority of my stress comes from not actually completing an assignment, but from getting to a point where I feel excited and confident about a topic. So, I must say, I am a huge proponent of this “Making Another Writer’s Decisions” activity.

During the “interview” Kaitlin picked up on several topics that I would have never thought to be interesting enough to consider. For example, I live in a house with 10 girls, and as an out of state college student I have not been home in a full year. From a fresh, outside perspective Kaitlin found these statements to be interesting and unique, whereas I would have seen them as normal and mundane. She suggested writing a series of short stories about living with 10 girls, or a blog for out of state college students documenting my journey thus far.

It was not until the very end of the interview that I mentioned I actually had an interest in expanding on a piece I wrote about my experiences studying in Belgium last semester. I think if I had shared this at the beginning it would have hindered many of Kaitlin’s other exciting ideas. In the future, I want to continue this technique when soliciting advice. With less guidance and foreshadowing the advice becomes more unique and different from your own thoughts.

I can’t say that I came away with an exact project that I want to pursue; however (and more importantly for someone like myself) I came away with numerous subjects that I am excited to choose from. I now have a large bank of topics that I would have never considered when brainstorming on my own. What shape and form these topics will take I still don’t know, but at least now I have exciting topics to shape and form.

Professional Portfolio Possibilities

So I just received an email that I was selected for internship interviews with the companies I applied to through my study abroad program next semester! Finally some good news in the midst of finals!

One of the companies requested I send them a writing sample, and after shuffling through the possibilities in my head I realized, oh! what about my e-portfolio? I had constructed it all along not with the sole purpose of professional use but tried to keep it professional enough that hypothetically it could function in this setting if I wanted it to. The email gave me no details on the type of writing sample…so I didn’t see why the portfolio wouldn’t qualify.

However, now that this hypothetical is a reality, I’m sadly not sure if my portfolio is professional enough for me to be comfortable sharing with a possible employer. I think the layout and structure are, but I’m afraid that the route I took with the writing exposes more of my vulnerabilities and areas I want to improve on. Plus, some of the writing samples are narratives about pretty personal experiences.

So…eventually I chickened out and sent one of my favorite Communications 101 essays instead. It was sad to realize that after all my hard work I actually don’t feel comfortable sharing my portfolio with an employer. But at the same time, I’m happy I had this experience now, forcefully pushing me out of the world of hypotheticals and into reality.

Maybe in the future (you know, with all the endless free time I have) I’ll construct a second version of my portfolio with the same visual layout but different homepage writing, a resume, and less personal artifacts.

E-Portfolio “Complete”

After working on this e-portfolio for so long it actually feels weird to say it’s complete. It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come since aimlessly experimenting with different sites and drafting our portfolios by hand wondering how in the world we would ever translate them to the web. I remember not even being able to figure out how to upload an image or add a tab on WordPress, and now I have an entire personal website.

I think what I struggled with the most throughout this process was the idea of the “portfolio as a composition”.  I never really understood what it meant until we peer edited in class last week. As I browsed through Beixi and Emily’s portfolios almost all of my comments were regarding navigation, layout, fonts, and visuals. Without reading a single word (okay maybe a few) I was able to get such a clear sense of who they were simply from the feel of the portfolio. Every visual decision we make in the portfolio really does create it’s own argument outside of whatever argument we are explicitly writing in the contextual reflections.

Overall I’m really happy with the layout and simplicity of my portfolio. It’s very clean and easy to navigate. There are only a couple of colors and most of the pages are really similar in layout. In my mind this adds to a coherent feel, but I hope it doesn’t feel too repetitive or boring to others. I’m also really happy with my about me section. Like others have mentioned I’m not too fond of writing about myself either so describing images turned out to be a great alternative.

Part of the reason it feels weird to say the portfolio is complete is because I want to continue adding work to it in the future. My overall theme is about diversity of writing styles and exploring new types of writing, so adding more pieces to the portfolio will only strengthen this argument.

Since I (sadly) can’t make it to the showcase I guess it’s time to post my portfolio link one last time…

A Semester Of Blogging

Pre-Writing 220 I thought of blogging as an internet diary for people who wanted to share every small detail of their waking hours with the world wide web. My only real reference to blogging was the travel blog my cousin kept on her study abroad trip documenting every type of gelato she consumed and the Xanga account my best friend had in fifth grade.

I now retract both those statements.

I’m still not sure if I will ever keep my own blog, but blogging in an academic setting for this course has actually been pretty fun. With all of the open ended assignments it’s a great way to throw out ideas and thoughts about your work and see how your classmates respond.

Before writing this post I looked back at all my old posts and actually laughed at the first few. The titles were dry and the text was formatted in lengthy paragraphs. They were essentially just short essay-like responses thrown on to the web. Over the course of the semester I’ve begun to transform my blogging style into something a bit more casual, fun, and entertaining. It’s interesting that we were never told that this is what we should do, but I think most of us agree that throughout the semester we came to understand that this makes for the most successful blog posts. I began adding images, hyperlinks, and typing a bit more like I was speaking. This blog has forced me to be creative, something that usually scares me when writing.

One of my main goals for the semester, and a guiding theme for my portfolio is learning (or forcing myself) to write in new styles and tones outside of a formal essay. I’m happy to say that blogging has been a great way to do so.