Down the Rabbit Hole I Go…

down_the_rabbit_hole_by_fit51391-d5m5uk0When I made it to the Research Guide page, I immediately clicked on the Humanities category. Some of the other sections interested me, but most of the courses I’ve taken in college are humanities-based and it’s become the field in which I feel most comfortable.

The Humanities category has a wide range of topics in it. I was turned off by the Communications and media links because I want to branch out and do something different in my project. I first looked at the Children’s Literature link. I think it would be fun to write a children’s book; it would be a new challenge for me, and compel me to approach writing in a way that I have not before. I’m not sure what I would write about that is applicable to my life or education and is accessible to children. Another hurdle is animation or art, which is almost always necessary to children’s books. My artistic talents do not go beyond the ability to draw a stick figure, so drawing pictures for an entire (albeit) short book would be very difficult.

As I was perusing the Humanities page, I found myself looking for a journalism link. I didn’t find one, but I think the fact that I wanted to says something about what I am interested in. On the first day of class, while speaking with my partner about potential project topics, I came up with the idea of a newspaper column. I –without any shame –am a big fan of Sex and the City, and was inspired by the protagonist’s fictional weekly column. The columns wouldn’t be quite as scandalous as those of Carrie Bradshaw, but I do think this project would allow me to incorporate humor into my project. As with the children’s book idea, I’m not sure what my topic or angle would be with the column, but the flexibility of such a project would enable me to come at it in different ways.

Overall, the rabbit hole activity was very helpful. The Research Guide didn’t necessarily point me to one specific topic, but helped me think about what I am interested, which is one of, if not the most important steps in choosing a project.

You Do You (…Seriously)

To the Minor in Writing newbies,

I can honestly say that I am excited for you to take the MIW introductory course, and I don’t get excited about class often. Writing 220 is a class unlike something I have taken at UofM. The “assignments” don’t feel like work at all; they are all  unique and give us the freedom to make them our own. What I enjoy most is that I am able to write about what I want to write about. The projects allow us to look into ourselves and express ourselves as individuals, so the final result is like an extension of ourself. We can write how we want, make our voice heard, do what we think is “right” (because there is no right or wrong).

My advice to you, young writers, is do you. Honestly. You do you. The Writing 220 is one of the few classes that has allowed me to put my own voice in my writing and put my own unique spin on a project. Take advantage of that. So many professors require you to write a certain way and follow strict guidelines. The MIW gives you freedom; use it to say what you want to say, however you want to say it. You do you. And if you don’t know what that means yet, you’ll figure it out, because the Minor in Writing will help you find yourself in your writing.

Get to know your classmates. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll be sitting next to kids who are just as funny, smart, and enjoyable to be around as your professor. Which leads me to my next point: get to know your professor. The leaders of the MIW know what they’re doing, and they’re great sources for you to go to for writing advice or a good laugh. And most importantly, they’ll help you find your voice, so that you can continue to do you.

Good luck!

 

“Imma do me.” -Young Jeezy

What Type of Punctuation Mark Are You?

I’m a procrastinator. I try to deny it in front of my parents and friends, but usually to no avail. I sit down in front of my books ready to study, but suddenly and helplessly find myself doing something else. I shop online, eat, take a nap, think about what I want to eat next, eat that, and the cycle continues. One of my favorite procrastinating tools –and also my sworn enemy –is Buzzfeed. It’s got everything: gifs of cats falling off tables, recipes for pancakes from around the world, and (most importantly) pictures of shirtless Ryan Gosling. That reminds me, I need to go on Buzzfeed real quick…

One aspect of Buzzfeed that I especially love is the “What Type of *insert object* Are You” segments. From “What Type of Book Are You” to “What Type of Social Media Are You,” these articles are incredibly entertaining. Taking inspiration from this, I made a “What Type of Punctuation Mark Are You.” Take a gander and find your punctuation mark spirit animal.

The Question Mark [?]

You’re generally confused and always asking questions. A beat behind everyone else, you often find yourself copying homework for a class you forgot to attend. (Is Writing 220 on Monday or Tuesday?) Despite these fallbacks, you could make a great journalist one day because you’re not afraid to ask the tough questions.

The Ellipsis […]

Similar to the Question Mark. You need a little more time than the average person to figure things out. You’re not yet sure what you want in life and have trouble making decisions. It takes just a quick pause to find your answer and move on.

The Exclamation Point [!]

You’re the life of the party. You make the best of any situation because you find excitement in everything. You can be a little dramatic sometimes, but usually have good intentions. A text from you will brighten up a friends day.

The Period [.]

The foil to the Exclamation Point. You like things to be short, occasionally sweet, and to the point. You are not at the top of the party invite list because you always bring the fun to an end. Texting you is often tense, as you’re always moody. “Fine.” “Ok.” “No.”

The Dash [–]

You’re a good person to have around. You’re knowledgeable and always there to fill in the blanks for people, or give information. Your timing could use work, though, because you’re always interrupting.

Stop the Train, and Listen to Some Tunes

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”

-Victor Hugo

 

In desperate need of a study break this afternoon, I closed my Linguistics book and opened my computer. Ah, Netflix. The utopian website we students use to escape our studies, turn off our minds, and enjoy hours of mindless entertainment. But today as I was watching my go-to show –Say Yes to the Dress, obviously –my mind kept drifting back to my studies. I watched the bride say, “I want a gown with ruching,” but what I heard was, “The first step of language standardization is selection.” I needed to take a mental break, and Netflix just wasn’t doing it for me. So I said no to the show, and grabbed my iPod.

I’m always searching for new artists and styles to discover. Unfortunately my wallet can’t keep up with my discoveries, so I rarely purchase new music. I have a very technical, precise music-finding process: I peruse YouTube and Pandora, hear a new song, fall in love with it, look up the artist on Google, briefly cyber-stalk him or her, listen to his or her music (and nothing else) for two weeks, and consequently get tired of it. And the cycle repeats.

But today was different. I took a pass on Pandora and opted for my outdated iPod. Not knowing where to start, I hit Shuffle. Since I haven’t updated the song library in so long, I was hit with some serious throwbacks. We’re talking Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” circa 2005. I realized while skipping through the tracks how so many of them still hold meaning in my life today, but in a different way than when I first heard them. I thought I’d share the first three songs that played.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. This took me right back to my family’s living room watching The Hills with my big sister when I was a little kid in high school who liked to read and write, and knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Fast forward to today, I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. But the song gives me hope that something good is out there for me, and I don’t have to change who I am to get it.

“I’m Only Me When I’m With You” by Taylor Swift. Maybe I should be embarrassed by how much T. Swizzle I have on my iPod, but it’s a good tune. When this song came out, I would always think of my best friend from elementary school. That was eight years ago. She and I will be living together (for the second time) next semester at college.

“Stop This Train” by John Mayer. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get misty-eyed when this song came on. Midterms suck. Everyone’s stressed, and we find ourselves wishing that college could just be over already so we didn’t have to deal with the stress of classes. This song gave me a helpful reminder that even through the tough times, we need to embrace these years, because they’ll be gone before we know it.

A Few of My Favorite Things

There are phrases that make me smile ear-to-ear,

Like come in, sit down, have a cold beer.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, want to sweep me off my feet?

Here’s a list of things that will make the job complete:

 

Go grab a blanket, let’s watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Check out this picture on Cute Emergency.

I’m at Taco Bell, what would you like?

Get in the car, tonight is girls night.

Did you see MSU lost? Man, that was rough.

Pass the hummus. Did you get enough?

We poured you a glass. Come on, you should stay!

You are beautiful, have I told you today?

Oh my gosh, did you hear Leo DiCaprio’s in town?

(Warning: Don’t lie about this. It will just make me frown.)

What’s your schedule? I’ve got an article I’d like you to write.

Hand me the bottle. We’re not sleeping tonight.

 

So if you want to be mine this Valentine’s Day,

Say any of these things, and you just might sweep me away.

OWDcE

Good, but Not Great

My first thought after reading Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me” was, What a great piece of writing. Of course the piece invoked other feelings –He makes learning to read sound so magical. How many Indian reservations are left? Was I taught poetry in school? But even an hour after finishing the essay, after reading blog posts, checking my email, and calling my mom, my mind lingered on “Superman and Me.” What a great piece of writing.

Like Alexie, I have enjoyed and had a knack for reading since childhood. My passion has never been quite as strong as Alexie’s, but all the reading over the years has helped me able to differentiate good writing between bad, and has given me an appreciation for the good. So, what makes “Superman and Me” so good? It has a purpose. It has a soul, a reason to exist. The world (in my opinion) is better with the essay in it. That is what makes “Superman and Me” so good.

And that is why so much writing I do is bad. Honestly. I don’t say this to be modest; I’m not fishing for compliments. I know that I have the ability to create good writing, it’s just that most of the writing I do on a day-to-day basis is out of obligation, not out of love for the art. A professor hands me an essay prompt; I research; I follow the guidelines and attempt to meet all the criteria; I check my facts; I revise; I submit the essay by the pre-determined deadline. At no point in these academic essays, however, do I insert my soul. Sure, the essay has a purpose: to improve my GPA. But is the world a better place because of my purely factual, uninspiring, 12-page report on anti-Semitic propaganda and socialism in Germany? My answer is no.

Don’t get me wrong, I still (somewhat) enjoyed writing that essay, and in some parts you can surely hear my “voice.” But there is no soul in it. No philosophical purpose, no reason to exist beyond last semester. For these reasons, in the grand scheme of things, that essay is not a great piece of writing. Good, but not great.

And that’s where I am now as a writer. I’m settling with the good; searching for the great. I suppose I shouldn’t wait around for inspiration to come to me, it’s one of those things you need to get out and find for yourself. I doubt I’ll find it in a dimly lit classroom surrounded by 200 other students, or on an essay prompt handed to me by a caffeine-deprived professor. It will come when I least expect it. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy reading works like “Superman and Me,” and work to the day I can write something as great.

Why Write?

Certainly you do not have to write if you don’t want to. But writing can be therapeutic. Better to release aggression onto paper than a person, don’t you think? Well some might think so. Writing gives you the opportunity to escape the dread, the deadlines, the disappointments of reality, and delve into a new world created entirely by you. You can be a milkman, a marmot, a magician who lives in a cave, a castle, a cornerstone of some country you made up. So when you ask, “How can I get out of this pompous, plain, painful world, the answer will always be:

why, write!

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