Welcome Back! Time To Make Another(‘s) Writing Decision!

I worked with Margot during this workshop. Since we took the Gateway course together and were in the same small group for one of the projects, we had a bit of background knowledge about each other’s writing style, major, etc. By the time we were supposed to debrief with the class, we realized we had been talking so much about our interests that we hadn’t even fleshed out project ideas! After a little bit of time to catch up with the rest of the class, I think we came up with some innovative concepts.

Initially, I was excited about Margot’s suggestions. A few of them seemed a bit scary to me (a choose-your-own-adventure story and a TV pilot starring Jon Hamm and Mindy Kaling!) but this was because they were different from what I have worked on in the past, not because they were misaligned with my interests. I think she really got what I was trying to do by examining my past projects. I challenged myself with a lot of different “new media” type projects in the Gateway course, so she kept trying to think of other media options I hadn’t explored yet. All of the suggestions were interesting to me, especially the ones involving speechwriting and writing self-help books. I think Margot took some time to reflect on my major as well, picking ideas that were both creative but also relevant for my future career in public policy.

While I had the privilege of working with someone who knew me and had read my work in the past, I can still use this exercise to identify things I will tell others when soliciting advice in the future. I think my career goals influence my topic choices in a big way. I like to think of my writing as not just an expression of myself, but also a project with a clear objective. This can definitely put me in a box sometimes, but I work hard to choose writing mediums that are foreign to me in order to combine both the goal-oriented side to my writing, which motivates me to begin a project, with the creative aspects of writing, which bring me back to my work once it has begun. Realizing through this exercise that both of these aspects fuel my work, I’m going to pick a project that will show me a new way to express my ideas while keeping it within the realm of my field of study.

Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World fist bumping
Thanks for the ideas, Margot!

 

 

 

Goodbye Gateway!

I think I’m done with my portfolio. Eep! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really happy with how the portfolio turned out. I had to eventually come to terms with myself and my inability to figure out how to do anything on Word Press, and make the jump to Weebly. I’m really happy I did, because it allowed me to insert media and link images really easily, and I’m sure it saved me many, many headaches. I definitely learned that you have to pick and choose your battles. I am glad that the sections of my e-portfolio worked out well, where some of them are text heavy, others are visual, and others are in blog format. I also like how visual the project is, and how interconnected all of the links are.

I still would like to go through all of my artifacts and edit them (see my previous post on how cringe-worthy revision can be), especially if I want to use this as a writing sample for employment opportunities or connect it to my LinkedIn.  Maybe I’ll do this over Christmas break when I have something else to do. I also would edit the About Me section. I had time to change it, but literally kept drawing blanks about what I could add or change about this section. This is probably because I find it super awkward to talk about myself; seriously, my most nerve-wracking interview question is always “tell us a little bit about yourself.” I blank and stumble through it almost every time. Anyone else feeling this about their project? I just hate starting every sentence with “I am… I feel… I know… I do…”

The process of making this was frustrating at times and also quite rewarding. For my reflective essay I chose to utilize a screencast to go through all of my projects which was a new concept but also a fun way to present my writing process. I had a lot of these challenging moments followed by breakthroughs (uploading to youtube and inserting them into the project, uploading PDFs, using alternative text). I think that is what makes the writing process in general so great, these tiny moments of struggle that, with persistence, make way to less tiny moments of victory.

I think I achieved the duality I present as a writer with my portfolio, but I’d love to add to it as I go through more semesters in the Ford School and continue with my personal blog. I want people to see my academic side if they want, or my personal side if they so choose. My blog presents that option pretty well, I believe, and makes a strong case for why these two sides are actually less conflicting than one might observe at first glance.

Now if you’re anything like me, you spent the entire weekend working on the e-portfolio and watching lots and lots of football, all while neglecting your other classes. So it’s time for me to sign off, and:

 

A map with the quote "quit slackin' and make shit happen" on it

Good luck closing out the semester and I will see you at the portfolio showcase! 

Unconventional Writing: Pop Danthology

I’ve been thinking a lot about different types of collaborative writing. I think to qualify as writing, there has to be some intention as to why things are placed with each other. Just because a bunch of images are thrown together doesn’t really mean it has purpose or anything.  Things like Tumblr and Pinterest make it easy to paste fun photos together, but I don’t really consider my personal Pinterest page writing of any kind.

This, however, is genius.

There are so many songs playing simultaneously and I can’t imagine how much time it would take to splice them all together, but this compilation of all of the great songs from this year is really well done in my opinion. Bravo, Pop Danthology.

WARNING: You might start bopping around in your library chair and people will begin to stare. Not speaking from experience or anything…

Great Minds Think Alike?

Well, well, well, looks like the University stole my idea…

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.01.37 PM

Just kidding! Although I do find it ironic that right after I turn in my remediation Pinterest project…

Pinterest launched its new concept of maps last week that attach pins to locations across the globe. Incidentally, the University of Michigan was selected as a launch partner and has created two Pinterest boards using the new technology.

The first is Tour #Umich. It attaches photos to University locations such as the UGLI or South Quad. The purpose is for students to virtually tour campus before actually coming for a campus visit, and I imagine it will be very useful for out-of-state and international students.

The next is called Wolverines Around The World. It highlights photos and connects them to places where Wolverines have studied, lived, traveled to, or worked.

Is the next step the LSA Internship Resource Board? Who knows!

Taking Risks

Okay, maybe not THAT much of a risk...
Okay, maybe not THAT much of a risk…

I think the best kind of class allows students to take risks without the fear of failing the class. Students should be encouraged to work outside of norms, to combine their interests with the topic at hand, to learn new skills just as much as they refine old ones.

 

I have really enjoyed this class because every project has challenged me to learn new things and integrate my passions with coursework.

Why I Write: I decided to make a video with iMovie. I’ve never used iMovie before, and I ended up learning a lot about how graphics, cropping, transitions, and stop motion video techniques. I also learned how to record audio, all while still completing the assignment.

Re-Purposing: I really wanted to make a website for some reason. I’m a very visual learner, and the ability to move images and text around to create a project felt a lot less like homework and a lot more like entertainment. Again, I worked within the broad guidelines of the assignment and still completed the task at hand, just not in a conventional way.

Re-Mediating: The entire purpose of this assignment was to think creatively and to translate writing from simple text to video, audio, etc. I went on a bit of an unconventional route and selected Pinterest as my media, but this was still accepted and encouraged by the professor and fit the assignment stipulations well.

E-Portfolio: Even here I wanted to challenge myself to learn new formats. I synthesized some of my work into a journal, learned about embedding PDFs and videos, and I’m still learning much more as I continue to work on this portfolio.

 

Overall I have really found this course to be completely different from what I anticipated when signing up for the Minor in Writing gateway. I haven’t done a ton of conventional “writing” but I have learned so much about web writing, social media best practices, blogging, video editing, and more. Are others feeling the same way?

My Life As A Blogger

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 3.27.04 PM

 

I’ve never been much of a content creator when it comes to blogs. I’ve started a few blogs and abandoned them, and I’ve had to blog for classes before, but I’ve always enjoyed reading blogs much more than I’ve enjoyed producing them.

That changed with this course, though. Inserting photos, gifs, and videos into posts, commenting on what my peers had to say, and discussing different aspects of writing has gotten me a bit hooked on blogging.

I still don’t feel like I’m a great academic blogger. The authority to talk about different aspects of writing might never come naturally to me, but I suppose I’m getting a bit more comfortable talking about my own writing. I still much prefer to share random thoughts, goals, etc. with people reading my blogs.

With other classes, I never had to produce blog content that attempted to be interesting to read. Instead, I worked towards just adding quotes from books and analyzing them or commenting formally on what my peers wrote. This semester I have gotten a lot more casual with my blogging, and these posts are a lot more fun to write and (I hope!) read than my previous classroom blogs about The Odyssey or world politics.

I am going to continue blogging after this semester through a personal blog that I set up a few weeks ago. I really want to make it a priority to post at least once per week. I look forward to looking back at that blog as well as these posts when I am doing my capstone course.

Revise, Revise, Revise

In high school we were able to retake exams for math classes. I was so opposed to this, mostly because I would study really hard and get a B+ on a calc exam but I would feel a guilty pull to study again and retake it simply because I could. Everyone else would of course redo the test, so I would be behind if I didn’t as well. It didn’t make sense to me… why put any effort into the first exam when I knew I could just see what kind of questions would be on the test and then study only that material for the retake? Just another instance where high school failed at preparing me for the “real world.”

My professor for a PoliSci class last year set a date for one of our papers. I agonized over this piece until 3 a.m. the morning it was due. When I got to class – surprise! – we were going to peer edit during class and then turn in our final versions two days later. The teacher thought she was doing everyone a big favor, but we all literally groaned. Seriously, a collective mumbling of “ugh are you serious” made the teacher step back. We passed our papers around, realized how many mistakes we had made and what improvements could be implemented. I was thankful ultimately that we had a chance to shore some things up before we turned it in, but honestly the last thing I wanted to do was look at that paper again until it had a pen mark in red telling me what my grade was.

That being said, every time, and I mean every time, a teacher allows me to revise a paper, I take advantage of the opportunity. I sometimes end up with a better grade, but I think it’s mostly a really good chance to actually be forced to reflect on my paper (things I liked, things I noticed about my writing that weren’t so favorable, etc.). If I know I don’t have to revise a paper, I’m so much less likely to read the instructors comments in depth, digest them, and make changes in my future writing. It’s so silly of me to not do that in the first place, but for some reason it’s a habit of mine. Does anyone else get like this?

 

Top Five Worst Parts About Revision: 

  1. The moment when you cringe while reading a paper you’ve already turned in and realizing that you made a grammar mistake. 
  2. Looking at comments from professors and kicking yourself for not thinking of their suggestions the first time around.
  3. It is more work. Plain and simple. 
  4. It just completely defies the logical, “there are no redoes in life” concept that I have had drilled into my head from years of school. 
  5. You thought you were done with the paper. Then you have to actually open it back up on your computer, re-read it, identify what went wrong, and then revise it. Is that a cruel joke? 

 

Justification for Revision: You don’t just learn the material you need to write the paper, you learn how to improve your writing as well.

A Very Jazzy Christmas Indeed

Christmas guys. I’m obsessed.

Buddy the Elf jumping for joy
This is what happens as soon as I see the lights and wreaths go up on the trees and streetlights downtown.

I think I have mentioned before my affinity for jazz music as background to my writing, so obviously I was so excited to find this playlist on 8tracks. Jazz+Christmas=One Happy Writer.

Sometimes when I am listening to this, though, I get a little sidetracked thinking about the holidays (Bah Humbug to all who read this and don’t think that the season starts until after Thanksgiving). I love so many things about the holiday season, but a lot of them include taking a break from academic writing and really enjoying the writing process.

Writing During the Holidays

  • Catching up on reading (all of those novels and magazines and blogs that have been on the back burner during school)
  • Keeping a gratitude journal during the holidays of all of the things I am thankful for
  • Checking things off of the ridiculously long “To Do Over Christmas Break” list
  • Journaling with a cup of cocoa in your pajamas while watching the snow fall
  • Scrapbooking events and memories from the year
  • Making New Year’s Resolutions

 

How do you all write during the holidays?

What Ships Are For

Pinterest Wisdom

 

I have these tiny moments of doubt. Why did I choose to make this project way harder than it needed to be? Why did I create a video when I could have just written a paper?

I have this tendency to take long sprints out of my comfort zone and only pause to look back when my comfort zone is far out of view. This has worked out for me in many different ways, but there are always times when I really freak myself out. Am I doing what is best for me, or am I just complicating things? Am I growing, or hindering my growth by taking all of these “unbeaten paths” that may lead to nothing?

One of these moments occurred today. I was getting really frustrated (that’s my new favorite word on this blog apparently) with the e-portfolio and the re-mediation project and revising my “Why I Write” video and I wanted to just do things in a super conventional way that maybe wouldn’t help me learn, but would help ensure that my project was perfect.

Then I was wasting time, as I usually do, on Pinterest (my personal account, not the remediating one) and one of my friends had pinned this quote. Wham.

I didn’t apply to the Minor in Writing so that I could remain the same writer I was and hold the same skills I held before I entered the program. I applied so that I could grow. I joined so that I could learn new styles, new formats, new techniques, new genres. I took this class so that I could explore medias that maybe I was too shy or too scared or too wrapped up with perfect to attempt before.

So my “Why I Write,” re-purposing, re-mediating, and e-portfolio projects are ships that I am sailing out of the harbor and into the sea, come hell or high water. Anyone care to join me?

Highs and Lows

Man takes a bat to a computer, gives a thumbs up and yells

This is how I am feeling with my e-portfolio right now. I am working really hard to place different papers and artifacts into the site, but I either am not knowledgeable enough to do so or WordPress.com doesn’t accommodate my ideas. It’s taking a lot of strength to not do this.

But then I will have moments where my re-mediation project really seems to be coming together. I’ll figure something out about Pinterest that I didn’t know before or that makes my work on the site a million times easier, and I feel like I have nailed it.

Biker does backflip over 72 foot canyon.

 

Anyone else having these moments of frustration intermixed with moments of extreme excitement?