My Last Time

It’s crazy to think my time here at Michigan is 10 days from over. I’ve always been worried that come this time, I’d be overly nostalgic and sentimental and think of everything I do as “my last time [insert activity here]”. I would then become terribly sad and my thoughts would be clouded by the fact that I never want to leave, and it would be a really bittersweet ending.

Fortunately, this has not been the case. Yes, this may be “my last time posting on the Sweetland Minor in Writing Blog”, but that, and the various other “lasts” I’ll do over the next 10 days have been satisfying, not somber. My four years at Michigan have been incredible and I’m relieved that my last hurrah will be marked first and foremost by triumph and happiness.

So yeah, I’ll never post on here again, which means I’m no longer in college, which means I’m now entering the real world, but I’ve never felt more prepared and excited to do so.

My portfolio: http://maxblind.wix.com/captstonemax

My Project and Me

My project is very indicative of my personality. First of all, I think it will properly capture my entrepreneurial tendencies. It will be clear the reason that I have interest in the student loan space, and I will be attacking the issues in a critical and innovative way. My project will also tap into my creative side, an aspect of myself I wish was utilized more often. I will be able to incorporate many mediums I am either skilled at, or am talented in. I’m particularly excited to be able to accompany my writing with photography. I’ve always loved taking pictures and have had a knack for capturing moments, and am looking forward to coupling this with my writing.

Overall though, I don’t think this project will be particularly in line with any of my social media presence. Over the last few years I’ve been very quiet online, and my personality today is not incredibly aligned with my personality back when I was active on social media. In general, my aversion to social media comes from an inclination towards privacy, and the fact that I’m very conscious that what I post can be seen by the entire internet. Because of this, my project will be in line with my talents and personality, but it will surely not showcase myself. To equate this to creative nonfiction for example, there will not be a tremendous amount of ‘I’. Instead I will choose to focus more heavily on telling the story of my subjects, while still being conscious that they may have similar tendencies, in terms of willingness to share online, as myself.

Writing Communities

Hello!

I’m a senior studying Econ currently in my final semester at UM. My four years here have been incredible, and it’s tragic to think I’ll be leaving Ann Arbor in four odd months. Some things I really like are entrepreneurship, world travel, rap, and Asian food. I estimate that I consumed Kang’s hot stone bibimbap over 30 times last semester. I grew up in Chicago and can’t see myself ever living outside of a city. After graduation, I’m planning to travel Europe/Asia (tbd) with friends before moving to Austin, Texas where I will work and become an active participant of the real world.

Writing has been an interest of mine throughout college as it has provided a means of catharsis and synthesis I can’t achieve merely by speaking. The spring semester after my freshman year, I participated in a six week program in Grenoble, France and kept a blog throughout to chronicle the experience. Writing in this format was a lot of fun as most of the content was story-based and very informal. This gave me the opportunity to be creative in how I chose to tell each story, and in the end, even added tremendously to my overall experience. It also formalized the notion that creative non-fiction is both my favorite medium of writing, as well as the medium that comes most naturally to me.

I’ve also done a substantial amount of business writing as a result of the job recruiting I spent an unfortunately large amount of time doing last semester. It’s frustrating to think of the number of cover letters and follow-up emails I wrote during September – November. Most of this writing adhered to a fairly established format, and to be completely honest, as I got deeper into the process, copy and paste became an essential strategy. My writing was very succinct, and largely void of descriptive language and humor. It provided a unique challenge though as I had to be clear and informative in a way that is not aligned with the way I speak.

This was the primary difference between these two types of writing. The blog came very naturally to me as I was writing the stories in a similar manner to how I would tell them orally. On the other hand, writing for business purposes was much more laborious. I rarely struggled to put words on the page while blogging, and was able to put out quality information fairly quickly. I’ll happily choose that over uninspiredly staring at my computer while trying to come up with a thoughtless, 3-sentence follow-up email. Still, there was significant overlap between these two types of writing, primarily in the sense that I was always striving to effectively communicate my point. I strived to write each sentence in a manner that would resonate most strongly with my audience. Unsurprisingly, this was effective (people liked my blog and I eventually got a job!) and I look to employ this strategy in all of my writing.

Sweet Victory

Well I can finally say I’m finished.

*cue Drake Now & Forever*

I’m relieved because the E-Portfolio was A LOT of work, but the final result is tremendously satisfying. Now, it’s time to reflect.

Almost everything about the E-Portfolio project was entirely new to me. I have never created a website and wouldn’t exactly call myself a designer. Furthermore, I don’t think I have ever (like in my life ever) composed a project that requires so many things to be taken into consideration. It was exhausting to make sure every element of my E-Portfolio was in line with my purpose and audience. I faced numerous obstacles when completing this project, but from all that has come a great amount of new knowledge.

There are a few specific things I want to talk about. First, are the two videos on my introductory page. I have never made a video before, so there was a substantial learning curve in putting them together. I enjoyed doing them though and while they’re surely not movie quality, (literally and figuratively – I apologize for my outdated camera) I think they turned out pretty well. Also, video editing, however basic it may have been, was yet another new skill I gained from the course. Lastly, these videos are in place of the traditional “About Me”. On their own, I think they do a good job of showing my personality and telling you a lot “about me”.

Next, is my overall feeling now that I’m finished with the course. As addressed in my E-Portfolio, a lot of my classroom time was spent being grumpy (hopefully you all didn’t notice). Upon reflection, I’ve really learned a tremendous amount from this course, especially from the E-Portfolio. Compiling such an extensive project helped me develop many skills that were either lacking, or I didn’t even have in the first place. I can say for a fact that I’m emerging from this class a better writer, even if it’s not the type of writer I’m most interested in being :). But overall, this class was a wonderful learning experience.

Well I think that’s enough talking for now. Go ahead and check out my E-Portfolio. Enjoy!

 

Purposeful Repurposing

Working on this project has been a joy. It’s radically different from most of my other assignments, which has made it all the more exciting. I was very pleased with my initial draft, but upon meeting with Shelley yesterday, I realized that I have a lot more work to do.

First, I stated that my genre is satire, but it seems that what I put together was not satire at all. Satire is very serious in its purpose, a fact of which I was previously unaware, so I was mistaking sarcasm for satire. So it seems that I’m going to change my genre to something much more purposeful and specific: a fake admission essay review. This new genre allows me to keep my original framework, and opens up a lot of new options for my remediating project. As of now, I’m planning to do a short video along the lines of “A Day in the Life of College Essay Reviewer”.

Another issue I have been contemplating for my project is the aesthetics of everything. Per Alexis’ request, I plan to print out the essay, mark it up in red pen/marker, and then scan and upload the final product. One potential obstacle with this is my handwriting is terrible at best, so I’m considering getting a friend to write for me. I could also keep everything digital and insert edits into the document in some script-like text. With consideration to everything, I plan to have a final product together in the next week or so. I’m very excited about the direction everything is headed!

Drafting Away

When Shelley announced we were to have an entire class period dedicated to drafting, I immediately told myself it would be a wholly unproductive 90 minutes. For as long as I’ve been in school, I’ve never been able to get work done in in-class workshops; I suppose I’d rather procrastinate and squander my free time. But for whatever reason this workshop was different. I got a lot of stuff done!

I started by reading through my awful college essay while posting satirical comments throughout. Although I wasn’t very focused on working at first, it was pretty easy to come up with comments as there certainly is no shortage of material to mock. My favorite line so far is “I know Penn selects students based on the candidate’s desirability to them”. Now everyone is pretty dumb in high school, but that statement gives dumb a whole new meaning. Also, and somewhat alarmingly, how did the adults who edited the essay allow me to write that? Hopefully they knew it was a lost cause.

 

 

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Click at your own risk

 

But anyway, I had a lot of fun satirizing my 17 year-old mind and was able to make comments on the entire essay. When I started to struggle at times, I hopped onto the Onion’s website and read some articles for inspiration. This was one of my favorites.

Despite getting a ton of material down, I still have a lot of work to do. First off, some comments just aren’t that funny. The specific satirical genre conventions I used got pretty repetitive and I need to add more variety going forward. In addition to this, I need to figure out how to make my document aesthetically pleasing. For my draft, I used the “Add Comment” option on Word which is about as attractive as a blobfish.

But overall, I had a super productive workshop and have a bunch of great ideas for future progress.

 

Peace, love, and new Drake,

Max

 

Repurposing idea

I struggled mightily in trying to come up with a piece of writing of mine to repurpose, and I think that most of this stemmed from how unfamiliar I am with the concept of repurposing. But through talking with Shelley and Eli in class, and reading the assignment prompt about 45 times, I finally gained an understanding of what was being asked of me. And now, I think I have a killer idea.

I often become a little too attached to my work, and [erroneously] think it’s absolutely perfect when finished, but irrationality aside, I was not interested in repurposing any of my more recent works. But I’m a fairly dynamic individual, and realize that I was a real dummy in high school, and at that, a dummy who wrote things down so they could be saved forever. So, I started digging through my ghost of hard-drive past and stumbled upon some of my worst writing to date: college essays.

My plan is take the absolute worst one, which will most likely be “Why Penn” (a school which I was rightfully denied acceptance to), and repurpose it to an audience of college-bound high schoolers under the following premise: How to Not Write a College Essay.

The Penn essay is laughable and provides me with a plethora of opportunities to make fun of myself, and more importantly, help college essay writers of the future not make the same mistakes I did. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do this yet, but my initial idea is to act as an employee in the Penn Admissions Office reviewing the essay. The project I will ultimately turn in will be the original document amended with a sea of red ink that will be my “admissions officer” comments.

These are all relatively new ideas so they’re a little half-baked, but I’m pretty excited with what I have so far, and I’m looking forward to improving upon everything in workshop tomorrow.

Different Types of Writing

I decided to spend my thirty minutes taking a walk around Ann Arbor. Thirty minutes on the Internet looking for different types of writing seemed a little too overwhelming, so I decided to spend time looking in places I don’t normally actively observe it.

When I walked out of my house, the first piece of writing I saw was a bumper sticker that read “LOVE”, but in the place of the V was a big red heart. I think the heart is the most essential part of the sticker. It doesn’t exactly look like a V, but I was still able to easily decipher the sticker’s message. The heart also makes the word love even more full of love. Finally, it seems to be the selling point of the sticker. Few people would buy a bumper sticker that simplistically displays the word “LOVE” in black letters, but with the heart, the sticker becomes a much more marketable product which utilizes many modes: spatial, visual, and linguistic.

The next writing I saw was advertising for the liquor store on the corner. The storefront is messily littered with large banners displaying deals on various liquor products. The target audience is clearly college students looking to get drunk and I don’t think the storeowner put much thought into the rhetorical situation of the advertising. Consumers, especially college students, are going to buy liquor regardless of whether or not an establishment has good advertising. It’s demand is very inelastic (yay Econ major). But the storeowner realizes this, and as a result, chooses not to spend an excess amount of time or money on advertising for his store, so in actuality, it seems like the proprietor has analyzed the rhetorical situation very well.

I eventually reached South U and was exposed to a plethora of different forms of writing. The most striking one was the neon sign. Flashing lights are everywhere as soon as you turn the corner. Such signs don’t display very much content, but it seems that such signs are intentionally insubstantial. They only display a word or two and are meant to quickly grab one’s attention knowing that attention will soon be lost. Like the bumper sticker, they take advantage of spatial, visual, and linguistic modes, with particular emphasis devoted to the spatial and visual. The spatial and visual modes are the primary reason anyone pays any attention to the linguistic.

Overall, writing is all around us, and all writing is unique in its rhetorical situation. As a result, each example takes advantage of different modes in order to convey its intended message. It’s interesting to think how purposeful each bit of writing is, and that all writing is far more complex than simply the sum of the words which compose it.

Response to “Why I…” Pieces

Writing is a relatively new passion of mine – only about a year old – so it was difficult for me to relate to Orwell’s progression as writer. Where Orwell knew from the age of five or six that he was destined to become a writer, I was determined from a similar age to make sure that my destiny was anything other than a writer. I always saw the discipline as fuzzy and insubstantial, and didn’t understand the beauty that can come from putting words on a page.

Once I started to gain an affinity for writing, my mindset was similar to Didion’s, although I had no idea who she was at the time. My primary interest in writing has been somewhat vain in the fact that I love to write about myself, but it is about more than self-promotion. Similar to how Didion says she “writes entirely to find out what I’m thinking”, I often write for the purpose of self-understanding and clarity. Taking things one step further, I find it very cathartic to synthesize mistakes that I may have made in the past.

Orwell stated that good writing should have political purpose, and for the most part, I agree with his statement. For that reason, blogging is something that I don’t feel 100% comfortable doing. My political ideals are constantly evolving and developing, and it is scary to think that after clicking “Publish”, a specific thought of mine is frozen in time for anyone with internet access to see. For instance, Sullivan talks about how he was blogging about 9/11 in real time, an activity that if I was intellectually mature enough at the time, I would have never done. My thoughts in one specific moment can radically change a few days later, and I would never want to put close-minded or potentially erroneous opinions out on the Internet for the world to see. Sullivan describes this feeling as if it’s a good thing, but I find it to be the polar opposite. All that being said, I kept a travel blog a few summers ago and enjoyed it tremendously, but to combine the freewheeling nature of blogging and Orwell’s ideology of writing for political purpose is a daunting premise.

When submitting written pieces in class for example, I am generally very confident in my work. I have strived to create a valuable product and I know exactly who is going to read it. That feeling provides me with comfort. Creating a blog though is tremendously different. Even with a seemingly docile entry like this one, I am very hesitant when clicking the “Publish” button.

 

Writing about my Life

A professor of mine once told me that if you don’t enjoy writing about your life, then your life isn’t interesting enough. It was an intimidatingly bold statement, but I greatly resonated with the statement. Thankfully, I find my life interesting and as a result, love to write about my meanderings through the world. This affinity for creative non-fiction transfers to my interests in literature as well. Two of my favorite works are Kerouac’s On the Road and Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I try to keep the mastery these writers display in mind when writing pieces of my own.