goodbye for now!

Usually at the end of a class, specifically writing or English ones, I don’t tend to actually see my growth. This class was SO different. I think the greatest way that I grew was in my creativity. With each experiment, I got more and more creative and challenged myself to really go outside of my comfort zone. I think that this really paid off in terms of the quality of my work. Looking back at my first experiment, there is not much there that is much different from my origin piece. Now, I am working with a completely different medium and addressing a completely different point. This is something that I’m super proud of, as I feel like I’ve started to lose my creative side a bit in college. I’m really happy that this class has given me an outlet to channel that side of myself.

I think that the biggest way in which I’ve grown is in regards to the revision process. Although this isn’t a totally new strength of mine, I have found revision to be especially important in this writing process. Building off of my last paragraph, I have found revision (as well as FEEDBACK from my peers) to be essential in helping me create my best, most creative work. I’m really excited to keep growing and seeing how revision can impact my work. 

Overall, this class has been an absolute pleasure to take part in. If you’d like to check out my zine, here’s the link:

Have a great winter break!!!!

Writer to Writer

Unfortunately, last week, I had to spend my chilly Tuesday night doing a mandatory orientation for a volunteer event that I am going to do – I would have much rather been sipping hot chocolate at Literati listening to Writer to Writer. On the bright side, I was able to spend my chilly Thursday night listening to the mp3 recording of an interview with Phoebe Gloeckner, an Associate Professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design.

Gloeckner is well-known for her novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures. One of the most exciting things for me when I was listening to her interview was that, when discussing her novel, she explained that she created by essentially using the same process that we are using in the Gateway: she took her diary entries from when she was a teenager and put it in novel and comic form – it’s basically like she’s doing one of our experiments! And then it was turned into a movie! I think that’s really exciting and really demonstrates the effectiveness of the experiment process and the gateway course as a whole 🙂 what a fun little connection!

I am always so impressed when I listen to an interview and the person being interviewed is articulate and engaging, because when I am in an interview, I feel like this:

Generally, I was so impressed with the way that Gloeckner was able to speak about her novel in a way that made me understand and connect to it, despite me ever reading it. At one part in the interview, she discusses how it feels to end a large project, saying that she does not feel like there’s any reason to live after doing so because of the deep connection that she has to her work. She said, “my work is me, so, like, who am I?” This really resonated with me and made me reflect on how I feel when working on/finishing MY own work. I feel that way sometimes, too, especially when working on graded work. The pressures of doing a good job when your work so fully encompasses who I am, just makes the stakes that much higher. Gloeckner says that for her, personally, she has to redefine who she is every time. I am going to take this very powerful sentiment with me as I continue working on my fully fleshed experiment.


Marvelous Moth Moments

On Tuesday, I was able to go to The Moth live in Ann Arbor. I had listened to a few Moth stories online before, but this was my first time experiencing it live. I can confidently say that the experience exceeded my expectations, and my friends and I already have the next one marked on our calendars.

As far as being an audience member goes, I think the host made it very clear as to how we were supposed to behave, which was pretty in line with the expectations I had for being an audience member. We were supposed to listen and engage with the storyteller, which I also did not think I was going to have any issues doing (which, for the most part, is true). However, one aspect of being an audience member is realizing, and somewhat acknowledging, that we were supposed to act collectively as an audience when listening to the storyteller. It was different than when, for example, I am reading a book or watching TV because in those situations, I am experiencing the story by myself. Experiencing stories as a collective audience made the environment feel warm and welcoming, something that I personally can’t feel when on my own.


In my opinion, to tell a good story is to not only know the story, but to know yourself and what you have learned from the story you’re telling. For many of the performers, specifically the winning one, I could see how the experience that they had shaped them as a person. This, I think, is the power of storytelling – after five minutes of hearing one story about a stranger, I felt as though I already understood them.


As I’m sure many people felt, I was surprised at the ratio from men:women speakers. About halfway through the night, when I noticed that there were way more men storytellers than woman storytellers, I looked around the room to see if there were just way more men than women there. To my disappointment, it seemed as though there were an equal amount, and that more men were just deciding to share their stories. I don’t know if this was just because it was an off night or if it was for any other reason, but the entire rest of the night I was left wondering why so many more men spoke.

As I mentioned in class, I spent the entirety of class thinking about what story I would share for distance…nothing came to mind. Then, I started thinking about other stories that I could share just in general, like, events that have shaped me to become the person I am…nothing came to mind. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t think my life is super exciting or if it’s because I’m just too hard on myself, but I literally have no idea if I have any stories that would be of interest for anyone to hear. Definitely something that I want to think about. I can’t be THAT boring, right?

Zine Scene!

When it comes to Zines, the world is your oyster. Nothing is off limits when it comes to subject matter for this creative, unconventional genre. However, there are a few things that you should know about Zines in order to help you master its art…

  1. Know what you want to say and think about how you say it

A zine may appear as though it was thrown together with little thought, but so much goes into forming and shaping the zine in order for it to effectively get its message across. The subject matter of zines can range from something as light as cooking to something as serious as sexual assault, but either way, they are thoughtfully crafted in a strategic way.

  1. Consider the physical appearance of your zine

This should probably be considered as a part of the first step that I mentioned, but it’s so important that I figured I’d make it its own. As much as we hate to admit it, we all (don’t deny it!) judge books by their covers. What your zine looks like should physically reflect the actual content from your zine while also being attractive. Sounds like a lot of work, but I don’t think it should be too straining 🙂

  1. Don’t be afraid to get craaaaazy with it

Zines are not meant to follow a strict form, nor are they meant to be directly informational or boring. If you’re creating a zine, it’s probably because you have a lot on your mind about a specific topic. If your mind is going crazy over it, let your zine reflect this! Playing it safe may feel better during the process, but in the long run, going out of your comfort zone and creating something that seems wild could feel good, even therapeutic.


Zine’s are a very creative process so I don’t want to outline too many steps, but this article shares some more great advice from the authors of the dope zine Born N Bread. Zines can get tricky because of the freedom it allows, so before starting mine I did some research on two popular zines:


Express Yourself – Feminist Expression Zine

This zine, created and established by Women/s Studies students at Chapman University, does an excellent job of showing how a zine can be empowering, fun, and meaningful all at the same tie. They include cuts-outs from magazines as well as hand-written messages related to feminism and girl power. They even include a playlist of girl power anthems and t-shirt making instructions. They definitely know what they want to say and are able to say it in an effective and different way.


Womanzine: 04 Body Parts

Womanzine is a digital zine filled with submissions of poems, art, and stories about women and their bodies. Because it’s a digital zine, there aren’t pages to flip through – just the ability to scroll all over the page, which really fits the somewhat chaotic presence of the zine. When you scroll to the left, you see a poem about a woman’s relationship with her mother. Other pieces in this zine include a somewhat morbid Little Orphan Annie cartoon, a folktale, and quotes that plus-size models have heard in the industry. It’s a bit heavier than Express Yourself, but it’s similar in the way that it comes together to create a visually pleasing and thought provoking zine.


So, future zine-r, I hope you’re getting excited to embark on this new journey! Remember, a zine can be whatever you want it to be – you got this.

(Or, as Tim Gunn would say – make it work, people!!)

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Whoever Is Thinking About Writing An Open Letter,

What’s on your mind?

I know that you’re probably confused about where to begin. This is something that is most likely new to you, so for that, I say hello and welcome! Personally, I have found that open letters are a wonderful way to express your feelings about a particular situation, most prominently ones that address a controversial or prominent issue in your life. Although they seem relatively straightforward, open letters are complex and are crafted with a great deal of thought and stylistic choices. Let me touch upon a few examples that I used to research this therapeutic genre:

An Open Letter…About Open Letters

I used this Inception-like piece to really focus on the genre content for open letters. In this open letter, Linton Weeks discusses the idea of how open letters have become, “the victim of its own success.” He says that calling something an open letter has become redundant due to the way our thoughts have become public over the years via social media. He explores this topic by hitting three main points: famous open letters, the history of open letters, and the skeptical questions on open letters. Using an open letter to discuss the topic of open letters invites the audience to truly think about the genre’s purpose and ability.

An Open Letter To Male Leaders In A #MeToo World

Henna Inam uses her open leaders to express her hopes and frustrations towards male leaders existing within our society and make a direct call to action. To get her feelings across, Inam makes direct requests to these men asking them to do specific things and to act in a specific way. She tells them to think about the women in their lives and to reach out to them to truly understand how they feel in our current day and age. This is what separates this open letter from the rest – instead of just talking to a specific person/group of people, Inam is engaging them by giving them instruction that reflects what she wants to see change. Even though I was not the direct audience she was targeting, it felt very effective and even made me want to reach out to the powerful men in my life (which really should not be my job, but seems as though it is).

An Open Letter To Harvey Weinstein

Tiffany Quay Tyson uses her open letter primarily to share the absolute disgust she feels towards Harvey Weinstein. To do this, she writes her letter with the intention of trying to get to know what Weinstein is thinking and why he did the things he did. She does this by talking through the different things that Weinstein and his team have said to try to excuse his action, addressing and attacking each point with a sense of sarcasm and rage. Tyson’s letter is unique in these two aspects – every single line is a criticism of Weinstein’s behaviors, and these criticisms shape the letter and create less of a call to action and more of a statement of what many women have been thinking and feeling.

All three of these open letters seemingly have very different intentions, which I find is one of the most values of the open letter. This leads me to my first tip on how to write one of these bad boys:

  1. Think about the impact you are trying to make. What are your intentions?

When I first wrote that rule, I originally wrote: “know what you want to say.” However, I do not think that wording is super appropriate because it’s okay to write an open letter when you are confused or conflicted about what to think or say. They’re a way to express these feelings of struggle, but the most important part is to have an idea of how it is you are trying to make people feel, what the takeaway should be. In order to accomplish this, you’re going to have to connect with your audience, which leads me to my next tip:

2. Ask questions

Is this something that you see a lot in day-to-day writing? What impact does it have on you? This was something that all of the open letters that I read had in common that I found to do the best job in pulling me in and getting me to really think about what the author was saying. An open letter is considered “open” because it is supposed to be relatable for many people and reach an audience in a public sphere.

3. Know your audience

Open letters tend to begin with “Dear (insert target audience here)” and while this oftentimes would seem like a bit of a cop-out in addressing an audience, it is important for open letters to be direct in stating who they are really trying to reach, although this does not limit who could still be impacted by the letter.

4. Play with tone

Depending on the topic, open letters can be written in a serious voice, a funny voice, both, or in between. This comes back to knowing your audience – tone can differ depending on your audience or depending on the message you are trying to get across. Tiffany Quay Tyson seemed furious in her letter to Harvey Weinstein but was able to use her sarcastic, sassy voice to emphasize her point even more. This leads me to my final tip…

5. Don’t be afraid to try something different. If you’re generally a calm person, write a letter about something that makes you angry. Write a love letter to your guilty pleasure. Step outside of your comfort zone, it will be worth it.

I hope that you have gotten something from this letter. I know that it may seem difficult, but with enough practice and patience, I know that you will be able to write a stellar and impactful open letter. You got this.


A student just trying to figure it out


Current Events as told by Ron Swanson: A How-To Guide

I try my hardest to journal before bed every night. It’s such a great way to decompress and reflect on my day, few days, or week, depending on how long it has actually been since my last journal entry. Because of my pro-journaler status, I figured that writing a journalism piece as my first experiment would be a piece of cake and boy, was I wrong!

For my examples, I chose three journalistic articles all discussing the same broader topic, but different in style and outcome:

  • A news analysis from the New York Times titled “Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey: Rebuked. Now What Do We Do With Their Work?”
  • An opinion piece from abcnews titled “What it means to ‘stand by your man’ in the #MeToo era
  • An interview-heavy two-sided piece from Cosmopolitan titled “Should I See Aziz Ansari’s New Tour? A Debate”

Even though they were each speaking on the topic of sexual assault in Hollywood, these articles hit different points, concluded in different ways, and ultimately took a different route to address the issue.

Throughout my English classes over the years, I have been told to assume that my audience does not know anything about the topic that I am going to be discussing. In the articles I read, I noticed that there was an adequate introduction to the topic, but not too much. This leads me to my first rule of writing an article:

Rule 1: Depending on the topic, you can probably assume that your audience is at least a little bit informed about what you are going to be writing about

Reading these articles, the authors knew that I, as a reader, had at least heard of the Me Too movement and am aware of its presence, which was a fair assumption to make. Similarly, the articles only briefly introduced the key players in the situation, some with a simple name-check, one sentence introduction, and picture.

Rule 2: A few sentences of background info about a person is typically enough

Rule 3: Pictures can help, too (we love multimodality!)

Each of the articles I looked at referenced different people and almost always, a picture of the subject was included alongside a new introduction of a person. Most of the time, each new person came with a new paragraph. News articles often hop from paragraph to paragraph pretty quickly, as to not lose the attention of the reader or turn into an essay.

Rule 4: Keep the paragraphs short and sweet – you don’t want to lose your readers in lengthy paragraphs that are intimidating to read

There is a lot of freedom that comes with writing a current events article. The three articles that I read varied in the amount of factual information versus personal opinion. However, none of them were primarily opinion – information always overpowered the amount of opinion within the piece.

Rule 5: Find that personal connection with the topic you are discussing and engage in it, but do not linger for too long

Those are the top five points that I took away from the three articles I read. There are many similar techniques used within current events piece, but there is also plenty of freedom to write and mend the articles in different ways depending on what you hope to get across to your reader. Ultimately, these articles differ in the way they present evidence to address their main question.


“Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey: Rebuked. Now What Do We Do With Their Work?”

This article weighs the big question: can we separate an artist from their art? Should we separate an artist from their art? To answer this question, the authors refer to opinions from many accomplished people in the industry such as actors, senior news media reporters, and scholars. While they do not come up with an ultimate answer to the question (I’m beginning to think it isn’t possible to), by using a range of opinions from credible sources, this article encourages the audience to consider different possibilities.


“What it means to ‘stand by your man’ in the #MeToo era”

This article explores the different ways that wives of men are affected when their husbands are accused of sexual assault. To do so, the author Meghan Keneally discusses a variety of sexual assault allegations and the different outcomes they had on the wife or partner of the accused. She looks primarily to examples of these outcomes to deliver her point. This differentiates this article from the rest: it is the only one that looks at the implications for a specific party involved, not just the accuser, accused, and audience through examining real-life situations.


“Should I See Aziz Ansari’s New Tour? A Debate”

The title of this article just about says what its main concern is: the author is conflicted about whether or not she should be going to see Ansari’s “comeback” tour in light of his sexual assault allegations. For this article, the author first explains her concerns and then presents two different opinions given by two women. After her initial contribution, the author does not insert her opinions or any background information in the piece – she leaves it totally to the two women to express their thoughts on if it’s appropriate to attend or not (one argues why she will not be attending, the other why she is). The two women debating are both in their twenties and justify their opinions with personal experience. This method is totally different from the other two articles I read: it uses the personal experience of two non-famous women to show two opposing views on the issue.


The options for current event articles are seemingly endless. The general conventions are present, but in no way limit the creativity that goes into creating a piece. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that journalism is MUCH more work than journaling.

Mamma Mia Multimodal Madness

Over the years, tagging my friends in memes on Facebook has become one of my favorite past times -they leave me laughing out loud almost every single time. After reading Guide to Multimodal Projects, this phenomenon made a little more sense to me. This article describes multimodal texts, or texts that use many modes of communication to get their message across, and why that is important in examining different texts.


This summer, I saw Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again! In theaters. Twice. Mamma Mia was the first musical I ever saw live, and I have been jamming to the soundtrack (along with other ABBA hits) ever since. So, when my friend tagged me in the below meme on Thursday afternoon saying “I feel like you have already been tagged in this,” I found it extremely fitting:

When thinking about multimodal aspects, the first two modes that come to mind are the linguistic mode, which considers the use of language, and the visual mode, the use of pictures. Looking at the linguistic mode alone sets the scene for what is to come. “When my friends pass me the aux cord” on its own does not mean much — it is only completed by the visual mode of the clearly non-photoshopped picture of the Pope holding up the Mamma Mia soundtrack. Thinking about it a little more, spatial mode, the physical arrangement of the text, really helps deliver the hilarity of the meme as well. If the Pope were just holding the CD next to him, the text would not be as funny as it is with him holding it in the air, like a truly praised item (which, in my mind, the genius work of ABBA is).


After being tagged in this meme, I was on a HUGE Mamma Mia kick. Listening to it on my way to class, at the gym, and getting ready in the morning…it feels like there is an ABBA song for any and every mood! So, on Friday, I decided to watch some of my favorite clips from the two films. I have always been a fan of musicals, but it wasn’t until Saturday night when I realized how multimodal they truly are. For the purpose of this blog post, I will refer to a scene that made me audibly sob in theaters, where the protagonist from the first Mamma Mia, Donna (Meryl Streep) appears for the first time in the film, but it’s not really her, it’s (SPOILER ALERT!!) her ghost (?) singing with her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), at her child’s baby naming. It is a beautiful moment between the two. Here is a link of a video someone recorded of the movie screen (Is this legal?).


The first two modes that stood out to me here are the linguistic and the aural, which focuses on sound. The two women are singing ABBA’s My Love, My Life, a song about two people loving each other so much that they can see themselves in each other, unable to find the words to explain their love. The slow, light tune of the piano paired with the slow, light tune of Streep and Seyfried’s voices plus the emotional lyrics conveys a feeling of love and passion. However, the scene would not be as moving if it weren’t for the gestural mode, which refers to movement and body language, as well as spatial mode. Streep spends the first half of the song slowly walking towards Seyfried, and then about a minute with the two of them in each other’s arms, and the rest is Streep slowly walking away into the “light” – a use of visual mode. All of these together show how much these two care for and love each other, that they do not want to let go. This, combined with the audial and linguistic make for a deeply emotional story, even if you don’t entirely know the background information. See the emotional turmoil below. 

Musicals have always been such a large part of my life. I have always felt connected to them more than I do with TV or movies. Maybe it’s because of their superior usage of different types of modes. Or maybe it’s just because I just like to belt out the songs in the shower.