Andrew Sullivan, “Why I Blog” Response

There are two parts of Sullivan’s piece that I found interesting, thought provoking and significant. The first was his description of blogging as a technological medium. He claims that blogging is a “form of instant and global self-publishing.” He describes it as “spontaneous,” “multiplying” and “instant.” Sullivan painted a new and clear picture in my mind of what blogging truly is. Because of Sullivan, I now see blogging as similar to, for instance, outer space: a place without margins, a place with no end, a place where every word and thought is linked to every other word and thought, and a place where writers join together in a community to share in the experience. Blogging can not only be seen as a technological advancement, but also as an advancement to the field of writing.

 

            The second idea I found truly interesting was Sullivan’s description of reading a blog as the opposite of reading a book. He claims that reading someone’s blog is like trying to piece together a narrative or a story that was never intended to be one. In this way, he claims that blog posts are more truthful than books. In reflecting upon my past experiences with writing narrative pieces versus writing blogs, I definitely agree with Sullivan. When I write blogs, I am more open with my reader. I allow the words to flow, and I write what is on my mind. On the other hand, with a narrative piece, I am more deliberate and cautious with my words. Sullivan makes an interesting point that the reader of a blog knows how the “story” ends before the writer does. When we allow our writing to take whatever turns it wants to take, and to flow naturally, we as writers sometimes do not know where our writing will go, even if our reader does.

HerCampus Blog @ the University of Michigan

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HerCampus is a nationwide organization made to be “A Collegiette’s Guide to Life.” The organization prides itself on being the #1 online community for college women, and features content on style, beauty, health, love, life and more. HerCampus offers daily email newsletters, giveaways, surveys, but most importantly, a blogger network. Each university that HerCampus affiliates with has its own blogger network. I believe the University of Michigan HerCampus blog is one our class would thoroughly enjoy reading for many reasons. To start, HerCampus as an organization in general has a very meaningful purpose: to “cultivate an interactive community of female college students and serve their unique set of needs.” Being a female college student can get tricky and confusing, whether we are making new friends, maintaining a social life, facing the challenges of a love life, etc. I believe the University of Michigan HerCampus blog in particular creates a friendly community for female students to express themselves about “the little things in life,” and to interact with females similar to themselves.

For example, one recent blog post/article outlines nearby places on campus where girls can purchase stylish Michigan apparel, while another touches upon new trends for the fall season. Fashion is an important aspect of every girl’s life, especially on a college campus. Lecture halls are filled with over 200 people at once, and students get dressed up for fancy or even themed parties two to three times per weekend. Fashion is a girl’s way of expressing herself and feeling confident around her peers, and HerCampus creates a virtual place for girls to do so. Another recent article entitled “Back to School Blues” gives tips, from a girl’s point of view, on how to transition back into classes and work after coming off of such a long, relaxing summer. Readers are told to stay organized, to exercise, and to get enough sleep. This article attempts to mitigate the stress that comes along with girl’s academic life, comforting them with an article written by those feeling the exact same way.

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Stylistically, the tone of the articles on the HerCampus blog post is both humorous and witty. My sorority sister (and best friend) once wrote a blog post for HerCampus entitled “9 Years to End Freshman Year with a Bang.” The article was broken down into categories including: “Break Into the Big House” and “Raid the Markley Hideaway.” The category titles were exaggerated and funny, as was the tone of the article. “Between the greatness that is the sweet potato fries, or the cartons of Ben and Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake ice cream, pile one of each food at the counter, check off every box of the order sheet, and sample everything you never had the chance to!” she writes. The HerCampus blog post articles are simply enjoyable to read.

A Closer Look At My Writing

Hallie Parker

In taking a closer look at the first paper I ever wrote for college (English 125), and the paper I ended up revising and also submitting for the Minor in Writing application, I learned a lot about my writing in terms of style, sentence shape and diction. Throughout my entire paper, I used mostly compound and complex sentences to drag my readers in. I also used a few compound-complex sentences when necessary to get a long-winded point across. The paper in particular was about the origins of salsa, and how it expanded into a popularized food loved by all across the nation. Here is an excerpt from the middle of my paper:

The more popular and globally well-known salsa had become, the more physical and cultural changes it underwent, proving its adaptability. In 1991, it took ketchup for a ride, and became the most accepted condiment in all of the United States. Even so, salsa still sought out ways to prolong its success in the food industry. It tested the waters in a variety of geographic regions around the world, taking in seasonings and spices from India, Asia and even the Mediterranean.”

Interestingly enough, I rarely used the simple sentence shape. In reflecting upon my work, I noticed simple sentences did not fit well in this paper. The points I relayed to my reader were multipart; on the one hand, I spoke about the history and origins of salsa, and on the other I spoke about how it expanded and became so popular. Simple sentences, in my opinion, would not have had as strong of an effect as the compound, complex and compound-complex sentences I chose to use.

In terms of diction, I would like to highlight the first two sentences to the introduction to my paper:

Salsa is perfectly paired with a salty, brittle Tortilla chip. It fits nicely inside a spongy, warm burrito, until it quickly seeps through onto the tips of your fingers. It mixes effortlessly with the meat or chicken inside a hard-shell taco, one that serves as a dip for the freshly picked vegetable platter in the middle of the dining room table.”

In reflecting upon my work, I noticed that I chose words that made the food come alive. Phrases like “perfectly paired,” “fits nicely,” and “mixes effortlessly” give salsa on the whole a sense of belonging, as well as a sense of power. It’s almost as if other food yearns to be paired with salsa because it such an amazing addition to meals, and vice versa, in the way that salsa is versatile enough to be served with anything and everything.

“Why I Write” by Hallie Parker

Similar to George Orwell, from a very young age, I knew I was destined to be a writer. In my spare time, instead of playing outside or watching children’s television, I wrote creative original short stories having to do with anything and everything. It started with a black sketchbook I received one year for Chanukah, which at the time seemed physically larger than I was. It barely fit in my desk drawer, and ended up serving no purpose other than cluttering my space. It was then that I knew writing, rather than drawing, was my true calling.

Orwell’s habits as a child strike me as touching. He felt isolated and undervalued, and as a result, stirred up imaginary conversations and created made-up stories. He wrote poems and other literary pieces to escape bad thoughts, war, etc. One might find this rather strange or even silly, which in some ways it is; however, in my opinion, it is more so understandable and respectable. Writers, just as Orwell had done, find unique and atypical ways to cope with problems in life. In my opinion, writing is an outlet for expression, for personal escape, and for the indulgence in imagination and fictional ideas. In these ways, Orwell used passion to deal with larger problems.

I found Orwell’s “four great motives for writing” to be witty and thought provoking. Orwell views writers in a very contradictory and two-sided way. He sees them as egoists, moneymakers, and those who want to seem clever in the minds of others. On the other hand, he sees them as those who seek out beauty, unveil and provide factual information to the public, and are enthusiastic about telling particular stories and livening the lives of others.

Transitioning to Didion’s piece, I found the way in which he described writing as an “aggressive and even hostile” act to be very intriguing. He claims, however, that you can hide this aggressiveness through the way you write (ie: which clauses, words, tones you use). After reading Didion’s piece, I agree with the way in which he frames writing. Writing is an act we can control, an act we have complete power over, and an act that can in turn control its intended audience in return.

Lastly, I can strongly relate to Didion’s claim that a writer is “a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent rearranging words on pieces of paper.” Most of the time, writing consumes me. I work to perfect my writing, not because I need to, but because as a writer, I want to. I believe writers share a collective and unspoken passion that is understood by all, one that allows words to influence their lives.“Why I Write” Reponse by Hallie Parker