Can I be trusted? Yes, I believe so!

The repurposed piece that I chose is of a more serious topic, explaining and rejecting the need for a specific federal policy that perpetuates a culture of discrimination. Because the repurpose is written about a much more serious topic that has relatively large life impacts for some people, I felt it would be extremely insensitive and, truthfully, somewhat confusing to have an extremely lighthearted portfolio and remediation. As a result, my portfolio has taken a slightly more serious tone; it is less brightly colored, a bit more simplistic, and the writing bits (except for the pieces About Me) are slightly less bubbly. My natural personality is friendly, chatty, and relatively energetic. I felt this needed to be toned down a bit to fit more with the serious, editorial nature of my initial piece of writing.

 

A piece of writing I was considering instead of the federal blood ban policy was an imitation piece called “Girl” written in the same style as a piece by the same name that I read in my first year writing. I was considering repurposing mine into an acknowledgement and expose of some sorts of how much pressure women face today. This wouldn’t have changed the tone of my portfolio all that much, although it may have given me more of a chance to make my personality a bit clearer seeing as I am a woman and can relate in many ways to the pressures we face. I cannot relate my personal life in any way to my current repurpose because it is about a demographic I do not belong to.

 

How much do I trust myself in how I write or why:

I actually trust myself a pretty solid amount. I do truly hate math; now, the reasons why I hate math might be slightly exaggerated or dramatized for the purpose of making an interesting and compelling Why I Write. That being said, I do still hate math, and this hatred for math has in many ways definitely prompted me to write. I’m bad at math = write instead! In writing you can explain anything, be anything, spin anything to be the “correct answer” (ironic how I used a simple equation to answer a question, huh?) In math there is only one way for things to be. My Why I Write conclusions are absolute, not contingent.

Why I Read = Why I Write ?

“I read to see myself”.

If this is the reason why I read, then the reason why I write circles quite closely around the word “vanity”. I like to see something of myself in the characters that I’m reading about. I have a very hard time “buying into” characters extremely different from who I am. I think their decisions don’t make sense and their actions hard to understand. I suppose if I’m committing to this line of thinking, then I read to put something out into the world that I know I will fit into. Maybe there isn’t enough literature out there that I feel I can find a common ground with, and I’m just vain enough as a writer to need that problem to be remedied. I very much enjoy re-reading things that I’ve written, primarily things I’ve written about myself. I will never find anything I have more in common with than something I’ve written myself. If there’s isn’t a niche that I can fit myself into, I feel the need to create it, and perhaps this is a reason why I write.

Mixed Feelings

The love/hate reading experience that first came to mind was when I undertook Jane Eyre. What an experience that was. I’ll be honest, though, and admit that my “hatred” (a bit strong) for Jane Eyre far outweighs my love for it. It will take up much less time for me to explain the things I enjoyed about reading it, so I’ll start there.

I was going to be a sophomore in high school and still fully committed to the idea that I was supposed to love and value all classic literature. Jane Eyre certainly fit into this category, so I willed myself to find the beauty in the author’s ability to write long, descriptive paragraphs and a mildly unsettling plot. It was interesting, I will say that, and I can’t call it boring, so I suppose I loved that as well. Personally, I find there are few things worse than being bored by the book I’m reading.

Now for the hatred. As previously mentioned, one of the things I really struggled with was the long, long descriptions of chimneys or gardens or peeling wallpaper. I find beauty in being able to write paragraphs like that well, but I don’t particularly enjoy reading them. I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever take that much time to describe random objects. Perhaps the thing I disliked the most was the main character herself. I found Jane extremely unlikeable. She was quiet, stand-offish and truthfully not all that interesting. I didn’t believe her love story, I didn’t buy into the book’s ending, and I had absolutely no common ground with any of the characters.

There isn’t really much connection between what I liked and disliked, they were all mostly personal preferences about random things. Sorry for all you Jane Eyre lovers out there, she’s not my favorite.

Why I Write Analysis

I read a total of 6 “Why I Write” essays before writing this blog post. Three of them strangers, three of them from previous MiW gateway students. It’s interesting – I noticed a VERY distinct pattern in the MiW student’s essays. The three that I randomly selected all took me on a two page anecdotal journey of how they first started writing, when they realized they wanted to consider themselves writers, and finally when they actually did consider themselves writers. Maybe they aren’t all like that but the three I chose certainly were. Standing alone they were all well-written and interesting, but reading them one after the other as I did they all began to blur together.

The strangers’ essays varied a bit more, but I did notice a pattern there as well. Two of the essays I read utilized the listing method of “I write because xyz. [Further elaboration]”. The third essay I read stood out the most to me, not necessarily because I liked it the most, but because it was a bit more unique in its form. The author wrote with extreme candor, to the point where it was almost information I didn’t need or want, and actually swore. *gasp*. He, too, used anecdotes, but it wasn’t an anecdotal journey as the MiW essays were. His main point was that he writes to put a halt to cliches, to force people (and largely himself) to “think independently of things that have come before.”  He embedded a silly youtube video and made pop culture references. It was a bit all over the place, frankly, but different enough that it stood out. I don’t know if that makes it a “successful” Why I Write essay or not, but I’ve dedicated the most words in this blog post to it, so that’s something.

Boilerplate: Janine Kerr

Fortunately I was able to dig up my MiW application letter for some excellent, boilerplate-filled sentences. Off we go!

  • “I have kept a diary since I could hold a pen because I love to write.”

Okay, that is just flat out false. Babies can grasp objects pretty darn early so slow down with the hyperbole Janine, you weren’t journaling until elementary school. Besides that, what does this sentence even mean? What aspect of writing prompted me to keep a diary? This is a blanket statement that sounds nice at first but doesn’t actually explain anything about what drives me to write/what aspects of writing I truly enjoy. I bet all those diaries are chalk-full of boilerplate.

  • “A significant portion of written communication is now online through [various media outlets], and branching out into this realm will only improve my ability to effectively communicate and understand others.”

Clearly I’m trying to make some connection between traditional writing and our modern, online, screen-filled lives and make it seem like I can ~evolve with the times~ and actually ~use it to my advantage~, but the resulting sentence is really just nonsense. I do no explaining of how these other outlets will improve my ability to communicate and understand others, nor do I support my claim that written communication is more online with an example of any sort. Again, blanket statement that sounds kinda pretty at first glance. Trash.

  • “Understanding how to write to most effectively reach my goal when dealing with many different walks of life will be extremely helpful.” (In reference to my goal to get a Masters in Public Health)

It would have been much more helpful for me to explain here that in the public health field different groups and cultures prioritize different things. Understanding their priorities and catering my communication in a way that meets these priorities and makes them seem the most important while still achieving my health goal is a skill I will need to learn. Instead I circle all around this very literal explanation and phrase it as “dealing with different walks of life”. Who are these “walks of life”? Why am I “dealing” with them? It’s all just mildly offensive fluff. And, of course, boilerplate.

While there may be a time and place for boilerplate, looking closely at my own grotesque use of it is mildly unsettling. Undoubtedly, though, it’ll still pop up all over my writing. Let us boilerplate on!

— Janine Kerr

Remediation Idea – Janine Kerr

Hey everyone!

When we started discussing the remediation components in class, I had a very quick first idea pop into my head so that’s the one I’m going to roll with for now. My repurposed piece was/is taking a research paper on the FDA’s ban on gay men giving blood and turning it into something of an editorial discussing why the ban is no longer necessary, how its continued existence is seated deeply in discrimination, and how it has negatively impacted people of the MSM (men who have sex with men) community today.

While I’m currently studying environmental science the goal is to get my masters in public health. I have always wanted to give blood but can’t (I’m anemic), so an idea I have for my remediation is a complement – either a PSA style video or short written informational piece on how important giving blood is, and how every eligible blood donor should make an effort to donate blood each year. I think it would be really fun to carry this assignment into the realm of the other things I’m interested in studying, seeing as blood donation is absolutely Public Health and it fits in with my repurposed piece. Excited to hear your thoughts!

Janine

Writing 220: Repurposing – Janine Kerr

Hey y’all!

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am a science major, I’ve had very limited opportunity to do much writing here at U of M (part of the reason why I decided to do the MiW!). Last semester I took Intro to Public Health and was given a paper assignment based on a controversial public health issue (we had a few to choose from). As I read through the options my heart leapt from my chest! Finally I was presented with a topic I truly felt passionate about! Not so. I selected the controversial decision by the FDA to ban MSM (men who have sex with men) from donating blood for a full year after their last sexual encounter with another man, a ban that previously prevented them from giving blood entirely. I was more excited to write that paper than any paper I had ever been presented with until I realized it was a research paper. It was not meant to be argumentative in any way; I simply had to present the cold, hard facts and keep my writing devoid of any and all personal bias/opinions. (I mentioned this in class- I had to scrap the entire first draft because it was so obvious how I felt on the topic).

I want to repurpose this paper in a way that I can use the passion I feel instead of trying to remove the passion from it. I will concede that because it was a research paper I did learn an incredible amount on the topic, which, if anything, only served to make me want to write my argument that much more. (We live in Ann Arbor guys, we’re all progressive. To put it bluntly, I think the FDA ban is stupid). In repurposing this paper I want to turn it into a sort of argument against the necessity of the FDA ban; how outdated it is both medically and culturally and how it now has negative impacts rather than postive. However, I don’t really want it to turn into your classic academic argument paper; I’m hoping to bring a little more humanity to it, make it something that could theoretically reach an audience outside scholars or students (perhaps people of the MSM community?).  I think the cold, hard medical facts behind why the ban doesn’t need to exist need to be in the paper, but I’m also thinking about adding a “cultural snapshot” aspect, if you will. A look into how the blood ban has impacted the MSM community of today, an attempt to encapsulate the emotional side behind the ban. Using articles written after the Orlando nightclub shooting might come in handy, as well as art projects protesting the ban, etc. I’m not entirely sure what the technical “form” of this paper will be, so maybe that’s where you guys can help me out

Any and all thoughts GREATLY appreciated, I need your brains.

– Janine (J9)