Challenge Post Four: The Conclusion

In a labor intensive project, I gain a lot of energy in the beginning. It is easy for me to get started because I have so many ideas to begin with. For my Beyoncé Capstone project, I felt like the energizer bunny when I started. Now, I feel like I’m all out of batteries.

In short: I’m losing steam.

I have most of my content done, I am just currently at the wrap up stage. I have all this research, reflection, and design, but I need to sum up my main points. Conclusions are something I always struggle with. Sometimes, they end up just mostly lacking.

When I was abroad in Israel, I took a film class where I needed to compare two Israeli films, Sallah Shabati and Broken Wings. My body paragraphs were so strong, but here is my conclusion:

“Israeli films often depict families to be supportive and headstrong. Both Sallah Shabati and Broken Wings use the theme of family throughout their storyline to convey the value in Israeli society. Both families are broken in some way, but manage to overcome boundaries to have a better life. While both films have negative plot lines, they end up with a positive future in the end.”

In my opinion, this context is a bunch of fluff and required sentences. I really want to avoid this in my conclusion for my project. I’ve put in weeks of work, this needs to end with a bang.

When I finally chose to confront this issue, I decided to make a game plan.

I took a break.

Many people forget to take a break in order to write better and grow. I took a few days to step away from my project, and then I was able to start the conclusion. It’s coming along well, and I’m happy I was able to look away from Beyoncé for a few days to hone in on my main goal.

Greatest Missed Opportunity

One of my greatest missed opportunities was not becoming an English major. In the beginning of my writing career, I was trying to prove to myself that I was a good writer (this was coupled with my desire to prove that I was good enough to compete with other students at the University of Michigan). I was hesitant to take writing classes that did not have an argumentative writing component—I knew I was good at that, so why would I stray? Now that I am almost graduated, I realized that I should have explored more and maybe something would have clicked with me the same way that argumentative writing and narrative writing did. I was a political science major because I liked the beginning classes, but I developed passion for most of my English and writing classes. There was missed opportunity in the sense that I could have explored and learned more. The English major would have forced me to do that; meanwhile, the writing minor gives me a lot of flexibility on what classes I was able to take. I never left my comfortable bubble, and I really should have in order to become a better writer and explore other interests.

 

I do not have regrets about my studies—I did like my political science classes and my writing skills, and I learned a good amount. But, I could have pushed myself. I could have learned more. I could have tried to join the Michigan Daily. I could have done more.

 

But, I can’t dwell on the “coulds”. The University of Michigan orientation attempts to advise you on classes to take, but they more-or-less throw you into the deep end. How was I supposed to know that an English major would show me more classes? It’s only in hindsight that I can see the missed opportunity, but missed opportunity does not correlate to regret for me.

Most Extreme Consequence

Hey Y’all,

So, I’ve done a bit of thinking since we spoke about our most extreme consequences of our project.

Quick debrief on my project: I am writing about Beyoncé and her rise to icon-status. Mostly, how’d she get here.

One of the potential consequences from my project is that people might reject my subjective analysis. My content is based on my own speculation, and there are definitely other opinions at play. Viewers might negate my credibility because they do not agree (even though, I think that is pretty unfair).

I am nervous that people will not take this seriously and think I am making far-reaching comparisons.

Challenge Post Three: A Shift in Path

I think a lot of people have felt similar about this, but I need to get some of this off of my chest! SO, I am in the midst of my project, and I have definitely taken a sharp turn. I thought I was talking about Beyoncé as a an icon, but I am really talk about how she has shifted her audience to cater to a wider demographic which makes her more famous. While they sound hand-in-hand, they really aren’t! I’m concerned/excited for what’s about to come. It’s scary, but after our recent class I have learned that it is okay to shift paths.

I am having the same feeling as I did in my writing gateway in our repurposing section. In my original work, I wrote a research paper about food trucks– it was extremely cookie-cutter.

Here’s a part of it:

“With recent technologies, restaurants have been able to capitalize on social media advertisement, and food trucks are following with the same technique. The recent food truck phenomenon has made me question: why do food trucks flourish in metropolitan cities, like LA and San Francisco?”

Then, I broke the essay down into sections about social media, economics, and culture. Not very exciting, but I needed an interesting topic to keep me motivated for ten pages.

For my repurpose, I was nervous, but I completely reworked this piece. In the second work, I wrote about how food trucks were an obsession and the hash tag was the central idea of this industry. I took one part of the huge research essay and expanded it.

Here is a sample excerpt:

“On the side of each truck there was a creative hashtag or an Instagram handle, which basically screamed at the consumers “FOLLOW ME.” As the consumer, a hashtag for a restaurant was a common advertisement, and at this point in society, practically a formality. However, to the food truck industry the beloved hashtag means everything to the trucks’ production, sales, and marketing all together.”

One thing I am struggling with is how to rework some of my introduction to fit my new idea. I’ve been doing a lot of cut and pasting, and I have started to realize something. Sometimes, when I cut and paste intensely I produce some of my best work. It’s kind of weird how a sentence can fit perfectly in one context and perfectly in another.

That’s a whole other problem though.

I don’t want my writing to be too basic, so my sentences should not be so readily able to be cut and pasted into new paragraphs. Ray spoke to us about how each sentence needs a place and a purpose. This has brought me down a well-known path that we all need to confront:

rewriting.

I am currently rewriting. A lot. And while at times it is useful, other times I feel like I am scrapping good material because I do not know where to put it anymore. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What do you do when you still love certain prose, but you no longer have the exact basis to use them? This is kind of a broad question, but maybe someone out there is having a similar predicament. I was considering including a section where I write about my process and how I got here.

Challenge Post Two: How to Ask for Help?

I recently was in a truly dreadful situation: parallel parking. I live in a suburban town of New Jersey, and I honestly did not have to parallel park until I came to Michigan. So, I’m sitting there attempting to align my mirrors, cut the wheel at the right second, and then manage to get close enough to the curb of the road.

This is my personal hell.

But, as I’m parking, people are walking by. I thought in my head, should I ask them for help? Instead, I kept trying to park, and I finally did it on the fourth try.

This made me think about my writing because, why is it so hard to solicit help?

My text example comes from another English 225 essay:

“Edward P. Jones’ short story, “Lost in the City,” takes place in the metropolitan city of Washington D.C. and follows the trajectory of a family as they search for their daughter who has gone missing. Further, there is an apparent connection between this work and Richard Florsheim’s piece “Harbor City,” which provides an in-depth view of a part of the city of Los Angeles through a black-and-white gradient lithograph. In very contrasting ways, Jones’ and Florhseim’s pieces question if the infrastructure and institutions that make up the grand scale of cities is too great to accommodate to the desires and needs of individuals.”

I distinctly remember writing this part in the introduction and basically doing a hail mary. I had to compare an art work with an essay we had read in class, and I just could not make the connection. I could not see how art could relate to a short story, and this essay ended up being a huge mess. There was no focus, but for some reason I could not just say to my teacher: I can’t do it. I need help.

A part of me thinks that everyone wants to seem like an “expert.” I knew I was a shitty parallel parker, but asking for help is the first step to admitting. But, why should I be ashamed? Not everyone is perfect at everything.

I’m encountering this problem in my capstone project already. I know that I need to ask for help in photoshop, but I don’t want to waste people’s time. My project requires a fairly heavy visual component because of the content, and I think the best projects have an equal balance of visual and text. I had this same problem in gateway. I was developing a comic, and I knew there was a better way to do it, I just didn’t want to ask people for help to do it.

Have we entered an age where people are so self-absorbed where favors are considered extremely burdensome? Or is this all in my head? Is it a combination? Do I just need to find the right person?

For people with similar situations, what do you suggest I do if I need help in photoshop and graphics? Is there somewhere on campus? Is there helpful “how-tos” on the internet? Or should I just attempt to do it myself?

YES, I am asking for help. I need a buddy the elf.

Challenge Post One: When I can’t use my own voice, I don’t know who’s writing.

Have you ever been in a class where a teacher gives you an assignment, but the teacher has such a strict criteria for what he/she wants that you do not have any freedom to think? I had that happen to me in my English 225 class, which ended up being an unpleasant course for myself. For each assignment, the teacher wanted it her way or the highway. Here is an excerpt from one of my essays:

The Big House, State Street, Zingerman’s delicatessen: all aspect of Ann Arbor that make it a small, up-and-coming city. In Jane Jacobs’ acclaimed piece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the urbanist outlines the rigid criteria for a city to be considered “great” and “progressive.” Jacobs mentions diversity, concentration, and sidewalk population as just a few of her specific eligibilities of what makes a city note-worthy. Although Jane Jacobs has a strict qualification of what a great city is, Ann Arbor would be categorized as a thriving city based on the multicultural and security aspects of the community that coincide with Jane Jacobs’ arguments.

When I read that paragraph, it sounds nice, concise, and academic. But, who is writing it? It definitely does not sound like my voice; it sounds cookie-cutter and boring. Sometimes, I am so concerned with achieving the desired level of content on a paper that I completely lose my voice. And without voice, who is speaking?

I’m moderately nervous about this problem for my capstone project. My project is about Beyoncé’s rise to becoming an icon, which gives me quite a bit of liberty for my tone (I prefer to write how I speak– sarcastic and to the point). However, there is so much content needed that I do not want to get in a monotonous routine of writing just to get information down.

An annoying, yet necessary, task I will need to perform is reading my work out loud. Reading out loud sometimes helps me get creative with my writing, and I can notice more readily where I’m writing to formally. I want my piece to be understood by an average reader, and I do not want this to become a research paper.

My voice is important, and it is a critical part of my capstone project. Comment if you have any techniques when you realize that  you are deviating from your desired tone of your piece.

Cliche or Nah?

  1. My grade A example of a piece that is a boiler plate is this article about Donald Trump at the AIPAC conference (http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/21/donald-trump-calls-himself-lifelong-supporter-of-israel/). The nominees spoke about their opinions on Israel. While Donald Trump says he is a long supporter of Israel, all he talks about in the speech is his military opinions in the Middle East. This is a boiler plate because his speech is not saying that he supports Israel, he is saying that he supports Israel in order to downgrade the surrounding countries. (Sorry to make this all political, I just felt impassioned about this after I watched the AIPAC conference)
  2. My choice of a cliche is the Odyssey article that is labeled: Why wine, your girlfriends, and pizza are better than boys (http://theodysseyonline.com/alabama/wine-girlfriends-pizza-boys/314962). I am sorry, but I have probably been told that pizza is better than boys a million times when I have had relationship difficulty. Quotes in this article like, “Pizza is like boys. There are so many different types of pizza just like there are so many different types of boys.” C’mon. These are just cliches that are trying to make woman feel better about their break-ups.

Story Telling

I think that there were a lot of words that we discussed about in class that made me think twice. For example, when someone uses the term “fast” to describe a mature female who could be considered “slutty.”

When I was thinking of writing that is concealed, I thought of the word “anecdotal.” Anecdotal writing is often used to describe when people talk about a story in their piece. However, this is just simply covering up one of the oldest type of conversation: story telling. Story telling is often used to evict a feeling and morals onto the readers. That is pretty similar to anecdotal writing, but it just sounds a lot fancier than saying you are going to tell a story.

Am I interesting?

This question seriously through me for a loop. Not only have I never had to think about my readers’ opinion on my work, but I have never had to formulate a post about it. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but my passion did not really take off until I was in college. My English 125 professor confronted me and praised me on my performance. Until then, I knew I was not good at math or science. But, I soon realized that writing was my niche. It took some self confidence boosting until I realized that writing was something that came relatively natural to me in a professional and unprofessional standing.

Now, back to the question: What do you think is potentially interesting about your writing to a reader? What do you have to offer?

In my opinion, I think that my unique opinions on contemporary topics is what would make a reader interested in my pieces. For example, I wrote an entire blog post for the Odyssey about the conceptualization of “FOMO.” I’ve written about juice cleanses, food trucks, and topics that are very contemporary and relatable to my audience. This is somewhat contrary to my major. I am a political science major and my essays typically have to be pretty dry. However, my creative writing has allowed me to explore my inner millennial– which I think a lot of readers would enjoy and empathize with.