another look at blogging

Before I came to this class, I had no experience whatsoever with blogging, and honestly, I thought that it was going to be a lame waste of time. Before when I thought of bloggers, I thought of those people who write mean criticisms on the comment boxes on shows that I watch online. I thought that they were wierdos who had no life and no friends, and who should spend wayyy less time on the internet. While I still hold this opinion in some circumstances, I think that blogging is appropriate and nessary in academic contexts.

 

This was my mental picture of "bloggers"

The thing that I really like about the Sweetland Blog is that you guys can see, and give me instant feedback on my work and ideas for projects, reading, etc. Andrew Sullivan describes how instantaneous blogging is, and he almost describes it under a negative tone. However, unlike Sullivan, I don’t get flooded with thousands of comments on my blog, so perhaps I can’t understand his pain.

In terms of my project, I am re-purposing an essay that I wrote about my dad’s upbringing into a fun children’s story.  I have never done this before, and again, I feel as though I am getting out of my comfort zone by taking something which is formal and representing it in an informal fashion. The reason why blogposts are good for me as a writer is that it gives me good practice writing in an informal genre. In these posts, I don’t have to worry about if I misspell something, or if i occasionally use a swear word, because nobody gives a damn.

I am even having to do a blog for another class which is outside of sweetland, and we have to write a paper on the informality of the blogging genre. I will be well-prepared when it comes time do to that.

Well, I’m sick, so now I’m going to bed. Night guys!

 

I

HOLY CRAP!

These are sooooo nice. What the heck? These are so cute, and put together, and professional! I want one! Although sometimes I am technologically inept, I seriously think that this would be a good thing to have or to give to future employers. Sweet!

One thing that I really really liked was a piece by Joseph Elliot, and I quote, “Within this e-portfolio, as in my life, you will see contradictions that vary in measure.” Amen brother, thanks for this vulnerability. I can foresee this being a problem in my own future e-portfolio, because there were (unfortunately) many times that I tailored essays to the views of professors. For example: my English 225 professor was SUPER liberal, and although I consider myself really really politically conservative, I wrote essays about legalizing abortion, gay marriage etc. and took positions that I didn’t agree with just to get a good grade. I am not proud of this, but it did work.

Relating the class to the e-portfolios, creating this is getting wayyy out of my comfort zone, and is expressing vulnerability, which is talked about in the pieces that we read and talk about almost every day. I’m excited to experience this new challenge and come out of it with something that I can show my friends, family, and grad schools 🙂 .

Response to Reading and Writing without Authority.

 

First off, I did not really enjoy or agree with this piece. These authors compared the two writings of a PhD candidate and a Freshman in college, they even commented, “Janet knew nothing  about the study of  ethics; Roger had  become  steeped in  the  tradition. Roger had accumulated knowledge  of the  domain, its issues and its customs; Janet had not. Roger knew how to write as an authority inside the conversation of ethics; Janet was an outsider looking in” (506). Then they spent the next 5 or 6 pages bashing Janet’s writing and making Rodger’s seem Nobel-Prize worthy in comparison. Well, duh his is going to be better, he has 8 more years of college than Janet as well as a previous degree in this academic discipline.

Comparing Janet and Rodger is like comparing apples and oranges.

The authors stated, and I paraphrase that, “giving Janet more knowledge isn’t going to give her writing more presence of authority throughout her piece.” Rather, they suggest, that there is something fundamentally lacking in her writing. Later they blame this deficiency on the knowledge-transfer model of education. I disagree with this. If you are writing about something that you have no knowledge whatsoever of, you are not going to write as if you are the sole authority of the discipline. For example, papers that I wrote for economics classes sound far more intelligent that papers that I wrote for AMCULT classes, a discipline in which I know nothing about.

So, apparently Rodger wrote in a style in which the authors approved of; what I’d be really interested in is a comparison of an essay written by Rodger when he was a freshman in undergrad and Janet’s paper. I would harper to imagine that it lacked ‘authority’ and contained many of the same types of central flaws that were exhibited in Janet’s writing. Also the article neglects entirely the process of examining or interviewing Rodger about how he learned to write authoritatively. Additionally, the article never mentioned the gender disparity in writing, which it perhaps should have included.

One quote that really struck me was, “Janet seemed  well  aware  of the  customary split between  public and personal,  and  continually  resisted inserting herself  in  the  text” (515). I remember that in middle and high school, the English teachers always said, “Never say I in your paper.” What a load of garbage! If there is a relevant example in your life that can be included in the paper, OF COURSE put it in. The one thing that taken from writing at UM is: forget all of the rules of writing.

Overall, I did not feel as though this was informative or worthwhile in any way.

Update on My Paper

I have finally mapped out my How I write essay, and now I am in the process of drafting it. I am definitely one of those people who takes forever to write something, so as a means of combatting this problem, I generally write a paragraph a day, and then piece the essay together all at the very end This method works for me. Last semester I used this approach in order to complete a 16 page research paper about lesbian Swiss women who ventured the desert from 1890-1920. This is a topic that I knew nothing about, but through strategy, I got it done. I find that if I write something in short periods of time and when my brain is fresh, it will inevitably be better quality than if I just bull-shitted the piece the night before, as, unfortunately, a lot of my peers do. However, as my English major roommate once told me, “thank goodness for those ‘night-before writers,’ they make my paper look so good!”
For the context of the assignment, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and write a personal narrative. The type of writing that I excel at is academic writing and research. I have never shown much of an interest in, nor been particularly good at, creative writing; Therefore, providing a personal narrative and inserting the word “I” into my story is a relatively new thing for me, a skill that I need to cultivate throughout this class.

My ‘How I Write Essay’ is going to begin with an anecdote about how, when I was a kid, I liked to write stories and I would become infuriated with my family for reading them. At the time, my writing was a very personal thing. There was this one time around age 10 when I wrote a love story and saved it on the family computer; my older brother read it. I remember he merely said, “Good Job” to me, and I started screaming at him and hitting him: I got grounded for my behavior. I think that I felt a personal connection that those stories, therefore, others reading them became a violation to my privacy and myself.

Up through my high school career, I really hated others reading my writing, but fortunately, that changed once I got to college. My ex-Marine high school teacher, Mrs. Hart once said, “if you don’t want people to read your crappy work, don’t do crappy work.” So true. I realized that if I followed the guidelines reasonably, and if I put in my best effort, I need not be ashamed of people reading my writing. And here you are reading my writing right now, and I am not ashamed in the least bit.

Orwell and Me

Yes, I realize that I’m semi-plagiarizing this title…One of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood, (Handmaid’s Tale, 1985) wrote an essay that shares this name. In her essay Orwell and Me, Atwood deals with the deep-rooted relationship between her books and those of George Orwell. It’s kind of cool; you should check it out sometime:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/jun/16/georgeorwell.artsfeatures

Back on topic! Undoubtedly, all of the Sullivan, Orwell, and Didion pieces are united upon the ground that they view writing as a form of self-expression and discovery, and Orwell provides four examples pertaining to a writer’s impetus to create new works. Of the four, I cannot seem to identify with the platform of “political purpose” but the others are right on track with my philosophy. However, Orwell’s definition of ‘historical impulse’ resonates the most.

Orwell defines a writer’s motive of ‘historical impulse’ as “[the] [d]esire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity” (Orwell, Why I Write). Although I do not possess the desire to write about my life for future generations to read, I feel as though this same concept can be translated into a more micro-level of writing—journaling.

Journaling is important for many (and myself!) for in the future, one may aspire to recount the memories of the times past. However, as life moves on, truth and reality become obscured and memory—which is often skewed by time—takes over. Therefore, this act of journaling is analogous to Orwell’s position of remembering history, because it aids in the act of remembering one’s life history in its truest form.
Furthermore, the piece that I choose to discuss in class is George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (1946) where he discusses the futility of academia’s infiltration of superfluous words into writing; rather, Orwell advocates for clear and concise prose to become the basis for what is taught in schools.

Looking at countless examples of Orwell’s work, one would certainly discover that he “practices what he preaches.” The one thing that I really enjoy while reading Orwell are his clear arguments. It is because of this clarity that his works are so accessible to many, and it is for this very same reason that I would like to emulate his work in my future essays and projects.

That’s all for tonight!
-Jen-