Production Plan Complete

So, production plan complete – cool. The hard part now is following it. I’ve had plenty of plans in the past that haven’t gone, well…according to plan. This one time I came up with an intricate plan to eat healthier in preparation for my high school basketball season. I made a day-by-day schedule with exact foods, portions, recipes – the whole nine yards. After spending quite a bit of time on this plan, including a fair amount of research, it lasted about five days until a couple of my friends asked if I wanted to join them at Chipotle (I did). So, the question remains, how can I go about not repeating this same mistake? How can I stick to the plan – what could be the potential “delicious burrito” of this project? I know things won’t go exactly accordingly – they’ll be some bumps in the road – but I desperately need to avoid this terrible tendency I have to procrastinate.

On to what I’m most confident in. I’m most assured of my concept – that it’s interesting, has merit, and will translate pretty well into fiction writing. I won’t get into it in-depth, but I’m writing about chaos theory/randomization and the effects it has on everyday life. The more I think about it, and the more research I do, the more fascinated I am by it. So – that’s good. On to the worries. I haven’t really thought about it that much (is this a good or bad thing?), but I think I’m most worried I won’t come up with a  good plot and interesting characters to represent the concept I’m writing about. An idea can only take you so far, I think, before execution becomes paramount.

I think I just have to start writing and we’ll go from there. Well…the All-Star Game is on tonight. Maybe tomorrow…

A Confusing Evolution…

When I first read the part of the syllabus regarding the capstone project, and when I first walked into Ray’s office to discuss the project for that matter, I thought, “Cool – I’ll get to write a story.” Where I stand now is attempting to discern an immensely intricate mathematic and scientific theory, while at the same time trying to incorporate that theory into the process of writing fiction itself – something to my knowledge nobody has ever done before. Let me explain…

I knew from the beginning I wanted to write about determinism, randomness, and the so-called “Butterfly Effect.” I also knew I wanted to write fiction. Having already written a pretty…how should I call it…a pretty shitty short story revolving around the concepts, my initial idea was to re-write the story in hope of making a non-shitty version. I knew the concepts and ideas were there – but the execution was off. However, as I soon learned this was not truly an option, as mere “creative writing” was not on the suggested table. Too easy, I guess.

So, in my lovely sit-down with Ray, I remember him saying something along the lines of, “What if you used randomness to talk about randomness?” Now, if you find yourself confused at this point, do not worry – this is normal. I was too (I still kind of am). Essentially, in addition to writing a more intricate version of the story, revolving around the same themes of determinism and randomness, I will be using a random plot generator with varying degrees to “randomly select” parts of the story. Therefore, through this methodology, I am both discussing chaos theory (that’s the name for all this stuff) explicitly through its principles discussed in the plot itself, and implicitly though implementing it into the act of writing fiction.

Still confused? Good.

Projects and Chaos

So…blogging…how do you do this again? Oh right, the thing with the words and the thoughts. Cool – let’s do it. That’s definitely how I felt when I just wrote that sentence back in the day five seconds ago, but it’s also kind of how I feel about this whole semester project in general. It’s not that I’ve never written anything of length before, or ever done substantial creative writing, but it’s been a while.

Okay, now that weird opening tangent is out of the way (and I’ve once again remembered how to write things), to the project we go. So I’m pretty sure I want to write some sort of fiction. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing in the past and would very much like to try again.

The next part of the puzzle is what I want to write about. I started with six pretty terrible ideas, and somehow transformed them into two slightly less terrible ideas for stories. I’m only going to talk about one of them, though, because it’s the one I think I’ll end up choosing in the end anyway and I’d hate to spend time deciding between the two when I could spend it napping or watching Narcos on Netflix. And what a travesty that would be. Unless this idea sucks – so let me know.

Alright, topic time. Remember that movie The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher and that girl whose name I can never remember? Basically, this guy (Kutcher) develops this ability to go back in time through this weird journal thing and change his future life, but whenever he changes something from his past different stuff gets messed up in the future. It’s not really a very good movie, but the idea has always been very interesting to me – that small, specific decisions we make can have drastic consequences on the rest of our lives. This is what I want to write about.

Unlike The Butterfly Effect, I don’t really want it to be science-ficitony, because I think the concept is very real. Take my mother for example: One day in her early thirties, her mom convinced her to go to this political fundraiser event thing she really didn’t want to go to. She met my dad there, and a year later they were married. Had she not gone to this event, which she very nearly did not go to, she in all likelihood never would have met my dad, as they traveled in very different circles at the time. And, had she never met my dad on this day, literally every moment of her subsequent life would be different. So this is what I want to write about…how small, concrete decisions can have vast, enormous consequences.

(This is kind of something called chaos theory, but I just watched a five-minute video on it and my head hurts now so I won’t bother you with it.)

So – three factors:

Disciplines: literary fiction, short story/novelette (probably), chaos theory (ugh)

Focal object(s): probably a person or several people (did I do that right?)

Confounding variable: People of course have wrote about this sort of thing before – how a fork in the road can lead to another fork, and so on. But, I have another component that I don’t think many (if any) people have written about. What if you could go back to the fork, and what if you could decide to continue or walk away? That’s a cool concept I think.

ePortfolios and goodbye

Click for link!
Click for link!

So – I was a little bit late to the ePortfolio game. And by that I mean it seemed each time I worked with somebody in class it seemed like they were way ahead of me (which is because they were). Having a huge amount of work that week, I told myself I was going to dominate the ePortfolio game during the weekend. Then, on such weekend, I found myself struggling to produce a product I was happy with. And then, luckily for me, I figured it out.

For about a solid month, my entire progress on the ePortfolio project amounted to a background picture of a beach. Yes – that was it. Now, you can imagine why this was so upsetting when I sat down to work on it and I became dissatisfied with said beach. I decided I didn’t want to have the same background the entire time, especially one that didn’t really mean anything except for looking pretty. That’s when I came up with what ended up being the pivotal idea in my project – to have the background for each page serve a purpose – to provide the setting for what it encompassed. If I tried to explain it any more it would sound kind of weird and cliché, but I actually think it came together really nicely.  (The picture is the link)

I'm outta here
I’m outta here

I’ll absolutely use the ePortfolio in the future, both to showcase academically and even possibly to prospective employers on my resume. I think I can also use it as a little of motivation if need be. If I’m ever facing an assignment I don’t think I can finish or have to learn how to manage another completely new technology, I can turn to the ePortfolio and look at the short story I wrote or the film trailers I made. I think the ePortfolio is the perfect way to culminate our semester – it showcases all the writing we have done, but also serves as a piece of writing itself, yet again persisting our quest to figure out what writing actually is. So, it’s been real writing minor. I’m off to the land of political science and upper level writings for the moment, but I’ll anxiously await my return, once again ready to embark on this tantalizing journey we’ve all begun.

Dear Future Minors

 

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the Minor in Writing, and that means – guess what? You’re a writer! Just the fact alone that you were accepted should give you enough confidence to believe you can thwart any and all challenges presented to you in this class. I’ll give you a couple pieces of advice, even though I know nobody will probably follow them (I usually don’t even follow my own advice). But, maybe there’s one or two people out there who this ends up really helping, so in that case it’s worth it. Read More

The Fried Turkey Fiasco

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year. A holiday built around beer, football, and eating – seriously, what’s not to love? But, perhaps my favorite part of Thanksgiving is simply being with many of the people I hold most dear in my life and just celebrating being together in one place. Spending the holiday in Boston this year, it was an eventful Thanksgiving as ever. Read More

War of Writing: Academic vs. Digital

The world of writing has without a doubt changed – just as pretty much everything else has with the recent rise of technology. I had never been exposed to digital writing before I got to college. Now, over half of my classes involve some form of digital writing (usually in the form of a blog). As the domain of writing increases, I absolutely agree with Elizabeth Clark that so should the teaching of writing, as digital rhetoric can be just as beneficial as formal writing. Read More

Storyboards and Mock-Ups…

Storyboards and mock-ups, mock-ups and storyboards…oh what tantalizing fun. For my remediation project, turning a short story into 2-3 film trailers, the storyboards are crucial. Having an outline of the kind of shots I want to have and what I want in the shots gets me decently far along. Making my mock-up for the ePortfolio was another really important process, giving me much clarity into exactly how I want my website to look. Read More

I Hate iMovie

For my repurposing project, I turned an academic paper I wrote into a short story. I struggled for a while to think of an exciting way to remediate the story and ultimately decided to make two to three trailers for the “film adaptation” of the story (and possibly a poster…tbd). When I thought of the idea, I thought to myself, Oh – that’s a cool idea! It can’t be that hard right? Well, I was wrong – it is absolutely that hard, especially for a person like myself who has never done anything of the sort before.

screenshot of iMovie's layout I've been struggling to learn
screenshot of iMovie’s layout I’ve been struggling to learn

I’m using iMovie to create the trailers, which has some pretty awesome templates that produce great homemade trailers. Short aside – I had to re-purchase iMovie because I had earlier deleted it thinking I would never have to use it…funny right? What I didn’t exactly realize though is all the different elements you need to understand just to create a simple minute-and-a-half trailer. There are medium shots, close-ups, landscape shots, two-person shots, and like a million others that I’ve had to study in order to start making a storyboard and script.

What could be a replica of myself...
What could be a replica of myself…

Though interesting to learn this entirely new technology, it’s been a frustrating process so far. The first time I sat down with iMovie to try seriously to figure out how to use it, I spent an hour attempting to close a window I unintentionally opened. It’s really a miracle I didn’t break something in my frustration. I’ll definitely be attending one of the iMovie workshops Naomi recommended, as it’ll hopefully make things slightly less confusing and painful (if anyone wants to go with me, let me know). I think in the end I’ll actually be really proud of the final result, no matter its actual success. Writing is something I know, but this is certainly something I do not. Though it might seem daunting now, I enjoy the prospect of challenging myself. The greatest satisfaction might just be pulling off something you never thought you could. I have my doubts right now, but we’ll just have to see how I’m feeling come December 10th.

Rhetoric and Digitalness…

It’s a terrible feeling clicking onto an assignment page only to find out you’ve already missed the deadline. I had a project and huge midterm today, so haven’t really been an actual human being for the past three days or so.  But it’s over now, so yay. But – on to digital rhetoric.

In one of the comments from Eymand’s article, somebody asked, “Is digital rhetoric just rhetoric that happens to occur in digital spaces, or is there some “native” digital rhetorical theory?” I thought this was such an interesting question and gets to the heart of this whole “digital rhetoric” thing. But, I struggled to really come up with a good answer to the question, so I naturally gave up and went back to my usual practice of surfing the web until I get super bored. And then I kind of realized something – I had been looking at digital rhetoric this whole time. Websites, blogs, videos, memes, video games – it’s all digital rhetoric. My example is from the New York Times website. I have check it every day for one of my classes and think it serves as a good illustration to just how much technology has changed the world of writing.

A screenshot of the New York Times website
A screenshot of the New York Times website

The New York Times has often been considered the top of journalism. For so many years, people would get their news from reading the daily paper that was delivered to their doorstep every morning. Oh, how the times have changed. With the recent rise in technology, younger generations much more commonly get their news from the digital world, such as websites on phone apps. Because of this, the world of news has adapted into the digital world. However, this has brought about certain challenges, like how to space stories not in pages, but on a website’s homepage. As you can see in the picture, newspapers like the New York Times have all shifted into the digital world. Newspaper subscriptions have formed into website accounts and half-page ads have converted to corner-page links. The rise of the digital world has certainly changed the game for pretty much everyone involved. And, as the digital world continues to change, the world must change with it.