All good things must come to an end

In all honesty, nothing is coming to an end in terms of the work I have done in this class. What is coming to an end though is this semester and my time in Writing 220 with Shelley and the rest of my class. It was a really challenging semester for me in all my classes, but I have thoroughly enjoyed all my time in North Quad on Monday and Wednesdays. And while I am not sad to say goodbye to the long walk from my house at 9 am, I am sad to say goodbye to this course.

I had so much fun in this class. I really truly enjoyed the experimentation process and feel content as can be with my final project (if you want to skip to it, click here.) I can’t say how happy I am that I chose my common application essay. It allowed me a lot of flexibility in terms of focus and I also was able to write about something personal, which I don’t get to do enough in college. Personal writing is something I’ve, well, always kept personal. So it was difficult to sit through peer review sessions with brand new faces while they read about some of my lowest points. That being said I can’t say enough how much I appreciated the peer review session. I am so grateful to all of my groups for their honesty and sensitivity during the process. My portfolio would be nowhere without you all, so thank you!

As a sophomore, I have a lot of time until the capstone class. I want to have something I am ready to point my finger to and say “that is what I want to do!” However, I don’t have that. At least not right now. It’s on my mind though and I can’t wait till I have that aha moment when I know I see what I want to work on. I also fully acknowledge that may not happen until I am sitting in the Capstone class with a new group of friends.

Going back to the personal writing, I think I have realized a strength of mine is writing about powerful moments. This is a little random, but I realized intense writing is something I have fun doing and get really push myself in. I also really enjoyed scripting my podcast episode. Maybe I should dabble in screenwriting. These are all just some fun ideas. If I’m being honest, I am brain dead from this past week and can’t wait till I wake up tomorrow morning knowing that everything is calm in my brain until January 8th.

I hope you enjoy my final product 🙂 I plan on showing my grandparents tomorrow when they come over for dinner. Stay tuned if you would like to hear what they think.

Sincerely, Maddie 


Goodbye until Winter 2021. Let’s hope senior year takes its time getting here.

Literati Vibezzzzz

I am somewhat delayed in reacting to the event this past Tuesday in Literati. While I am glad I made the trek to hear Dr. Thompson, immediately following  I began to run a never-ending fever, so this event marked my last moment outside my bed for a few days.

As I sat down to defrost in my small wooden chair on the upstairs level of Literati I couldn’t help but feel like this is what college about. This is the kind of thing my parents always told me to take advantage of in my university years. A conversation between two intellectuals about something they both specialize in, and something I hope to specialize in. Shelley and Dr. Thompson come from two very different fields but like always writing plays the role of magical matchmaker. The two connected immediately and the event did not feel like an interview, but a conversation. This made it successful in my head, good job Shelley:)

I was fascinated by the book Thompson wrote Blood in the Water. Going into the event I half expected it to be a boring history book about some event that goes on and on and about the boring details of the event. I (having done no research, oops) was pleasantly surprised by the endearing and thriller component of her story. She quite literally rewrote a cool, underplayed moment in history. I appreciated her honesty in explaining her process as well. I think she worked hard to be unbiased and incorporate all elements of every story she heard in telling her story. This is undoubtedly hard.

One tip she gave was about how the best writing does not need adjectives. When she first said this I was a little confused. Adjectives are the key to the description, aren’t they? I have always loved playing around with adjectives ever since I learned what they were playing MadLibs. As she continued her thought though I actually understood what she meant. The way in which something is described is much more than one word, it’s the build-up and the lead out. One word shouldn’t define something, and with this logic, adjectives are not always necessary and sometimes just contribute to jargon. Thank you for this, Dr. Thompson I actually really needed to hear that!

I also was impressed with her answer and composure to the question about her privilege in regards to the topics she writes about. She was very matter of fact and accepting of her own identity and she made a great point. If more doors open for her because of her identity, why shouldn’t she take advantage of them and tell the stories that otherwise may not get told?

Overall, I think the event was successful and I am glad this was my last appearance before my fever fest 2018. It gave me a whole lot to think about from my bed these past few days.

Moth’s are pretty too

Hi there!

Unfortunately, I was unable to tend the Moth Story Slam at Zingerman’s Grayline. I would have much preferred to be there over my Statistics review session. I would story slam over calculating confidence intervals any day of the week.

Anyways, I instead tuned into a Moth story hour radio episode all about Transit.

The first story was about a young male’s role in his family’s sneaky airport practices. A fun, lighthearted story told in a fun manner actually transforms itself into a fascinating look into a culture and the way in which generations change in America.

The second story was all about kicking yourself in the ass until the real you shows up. This guy’s story juggled the ideas that you can’t have something good without getting kicked in some other way. It was a little sad to listen to, but he maintained a strong composure and used humor in a slightly deprecating manner that made it more enjoyable.

When I finished listening to this story, I took a break and did a little research on the Moth genre. I wanted to understand better where each story was coming from and what the guidelines were. As we discussed in class, there are actually rules for the moth genre. The story has a time limit (depending on the level), it must pertain to the theme, and it must have a beginning middle and end. This last rule is what I imagine is the hardest. Especially after spending time in class today trying to come up with our own story, I realize how complex a genre this is. The stories always have a purpose. They aren’t just “I walked to the ice cream store. I bought ice cream. I walked home.” Rather they are simple stories that speak to character, values, and morals. It can be hard to verbalize these ideas in the form of a story.

After my research, I finished up the moth hour and in all honesty, I would try and put my notes into sentences, but I was half asleep. I have already downloaded two more hours of stories to listen to on my next road trip though. They’re like mini-narrative Ted-Talks. I keep thinking back on that first one I listened to and how effective it was. It incorporated cultural tradition, family dynamics, personality, humor, and of course a form of transit. It also held my attention throughout, which I admit can be hard to do. I like the formal informality of them. That may sound stupid, but there is something about speaking a story in front of people that is very formal and eloquent. Yet the audience allows for informality. It is comforting and new.

I’m excited to think more about Moth storytelling and I definitely plan on attending one of the next two to see it in action. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a story of my own by then!


Zip Zap Zine Zop

Hey! Welcome, welcome. I am just about to start working on my zine. Yes, you heard that right I said Zine. You can go look up zine on Wikipedia, but I’ll save you the time and tell you it’s “a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier,” (Wikipedia).

Rather than explain how to make one, I am going to have you make one with me. I’m about to create my first zine and I’m pretty excited about it. Here are the steps I took before delving into my zine journey. It’s important you remember that zines are personal and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I can’t tell you what to do. Only you can. Listen up though for some good tricks on how to make as dope a zine as possible. 

Choose a base for your zine.
Here I have a blue book and I decided to use this as the base for my work. I chose it because I am not crafty so this way I don’t have to fold my own booklet. If you choose to though, this video will show you how to make your own. You can use whatever kind of paper you feel fits. Because I am basing my zine off my common application essay, I thought of transforming it into a college exam booklet. I thought this was a clever change. What do you think? Is it lazy or cute? I’m going to make sure it’s cute.

Everything deserves a name. Title your zine.
This is what is going to make someone decide to open your magical little book or not, so make sure you pick something both meaningful to yourself and something that will captivate an audience. Imagine some zine-enthusiasts standing in a bookstore looking at 20 different zine covers. What will make someone pick yours? Check out this pinterest board to see some successful (and not so successful) titles and covers.

While it is undoubtedly fun to just get down and dirty with the scrapbooking, try and figure out a layout for your zine. It should have some sort of theme (even if the theme is no theme). You should have some idea of the kind of things you will be putting on each page. Have an order. Yes, disorganization and messiness is a key component of a zine, but you do want your readers to be able to understand what you’re doing. This simple step will make your life stress free because you won’t be cursing yourself out for gluing the wrong picture on the wrong page.

Have a good freaking time.
A zine is a creative outlet. You shouldn’t feel stressed or strained or frustrated. If you’re choosing to make a zine it means you are choosing to create something fun, freeform, and special. Enjoy the process and remember why you are making it. This should be enough to motivate you through the arts and crafts part of this project. I know the whole time I am making mine, I am going to be imagining handing it to my grandpa when I get home winterbreak. This makes it worth it to me and this motivates me to make it the best (and only) damn zine I have ever made.

So my friends, you now are ready to delve into the personal and individual side of your zine. I can’t tell you how to make your zine because this is something only you know how to do. I can however suggest the above in order to maximize the effectiveness of your zine. My last tip? Check out my wavVVvvy playlist, or put on your own favorite music. Enjoying good music fuels my creative outlets. Maybe it’ll help yours too. Good luck and happy zine-ing!

Open Letters and the Madness That Surrounds Them

To my confused peers,

Letters are a thing of the past. The only mail I plan on receiving anytime soon is my absentee ballot (#excerciseyourright!). Open letters are in now. What does this mean? This is a question everyone is asking and no one knows the answer to. Open-letters are not a new genre, but the most recent renditions of open letters have begun to stray from the traditional idea.

Open letters are different from a regular letter in that they are not intended for only one person. They are meant to be read by a larger audience than a singer reader. This seemed like an appropriate direction to take my common application essay. I wanted to explain to the world why I write in this essay. So why not write a letter to the reason I write. I wanted my grandpa to be the recipient of the letter because it would have the most meaning to him, the reason I write. It just made sense. And while yes I could easily mail him the letter and call it a day I know there is a larger lesson at work here. It is so simple and easy for me to make my grandparents day by just checking in. Grandchildren oftentimes don’t realize how easily they could make their grandparents day. This letter’s implied audience is to the grandchildren out there who may need a reminder that having living grandparents is a privilege.

So without any further ado, let’s figure out how an open letter can be successful, and how it can flop and end up not being considered an open letter at all.


  • Do pick a recipient. In my case I have picked my grandpa, “the reason I write.” You can be specific and you can also be vague. Claire Wagner wrote “An Open Letter to anyone having a Bad Week.” Last week I had three midterms over the course of 24 hours and needless to say this letter resonated with me. She didn’t try and pretend she knew me, she picked a subset of people and categorized them and wrote to the category, not the specific people. This is how being vague is okay. I felt like this random contributor to the Huffington Post was giving me a hug. That’s a success in my book.

  • Do be calm when you write your open letter. This doesn’t so much apply to my letter, as I am not discussing an issue with a strong divide. However, many open letters are written regarding politics and other hot topics and usually you’re pretty passionate about the topic if you’re writing an open letter about it. So if you’re feeling angry and heated, take a step back and take a deep breath. Your writing will be better received and considered if you deliver it calmly. I know my brother takes advice a lot better that way then when I yell in his that he’s wrong. We don’t want to make anyone feel defensive, but rather enlightened.


  • Don’t bring up that inside joke. While personalization makes the heart grow fond, I’ve found that too much very personal content confuses the reader of the open letter. This was something I struggled with in my open letter. I wanted my grandpa to feel personal but I also wanted anyone to be able to read it and come out feeling like they understood why I wrote it. All of this to say though, I do like personalization. There are some open letters out there that people find bothersome. Like in this Odyssey article titled “An Open Letter to the People Who Keep Writing Open Letters.” This girl is ANGRY about incorrect open letter usage. I mean look at this-

“So next time you sit down at your laptop to spit out another open letter to whoever changed your life this week, ask yourself- is this for the betterment of society? Does my opinion really matter or am I just complaining because it’s what I’d rather do than deal with my problems in the adult way I act like I do in my open letters,” (

This is a little extreme in my opinion but it shows you that there is a line between too personal and touching, so make sure you watch yourself. I don’t want the wrath of this girl, I don’t know about you.

  • Don’t be upset if people have opinions that challenge yours. Part of the beauty of an open letter is being able to deliver an opinion uninterrupted. If I was speaking this letter out loud to my grandpa he would never let me finish. He would interrupt after I say the freaking title. Just because you can get your thoughts out uninterrupted though, does not mean everyone will agree. You’re writing an OPEN letter so it is OPEN for anyone to read interpret. Listen to others, it can be interesting.


Overall, open-letters are pretty free form at the bone. Yes, people have strong opinions on what an open letter should be but don’t let that discourage you from taking it on in a new way. I know my open-letter is far from traditional, but I am going with it. I am writing to my grandpa but I am writing with the hopes that some other kid will read it and decide to call their grandma afterward. That dual functionality makes it an open letter to me.

Good luck and write away!


P.S. It’s actually pretty comical how many open letters about open letters there are out there. Irony at its finest, let me tell you.



The radio has been around for quite a while. Podcasts are newer, but they share a lot of characteristics. I’m here today to evaluate this genre called podcasting and give you some key information on how to make your very own radio show successful. You won’t be able to charm your audience with your great looks, so pay close attention if you want to keep the listeners coming back for more.

The first thing you have to know when creating a podcast is pretty obvious. What are you going to talk about? Are you going to conduct interviews like Terry Gross on Fresh Air? Are you going to make it like The View and have multiple hosts having conversations? Or will it be like the new hit podcast series, Serial, where the show takes on a narrative and acts more like an audio recording? The genres within podcasts are endless. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these genres do well and where they each fall short.

Fresh  Air, a form of interview podcasts, is something I’ve fallen asleep to in the car for as long as I can remember. My parents worship Terry Gross and the ground she walks on. She is the master of her genre, and I want to tell you why. She fears no political stance, she backs down from no debate. She speaks into her microphone and examines some of the most influential and known people, as well as lesser known but still influential people. Terry Gross takes no BS and gives no BS. She conducts interviews. People listen to these interviews. They are pre-recorded and she doesn’t solely talk to those interviewed but also plays clips of other past interviews and scenes from movies. She brings the interviews alive even though it’s only voiced through earbuds or an aux cord.

A negative I see to NPR’s hit Fresh Air would be its audience reach. Clearly, it isn’t captivating a lot of children in the backseat of a car, but aside from that her interviews are highly educational and informative but are not getting the kind of reach they should. Because NPR is a (liberal) radio station there are a lot of people who don’t know and don’t care to tune in. These are the people the interviews would benefit most. Then again, not every genre can hit every kind of audience, so perhaps NPR is okay with their high volume of nerdy, curious adults who savor every minute. The big takeaway from Terry Gross? PICK AN AUDIENCE, AND MAKE THEM HAPPY.

Next up, let’s talk about story-speaking. That’s what I’m calling the narrative podcast. It’s when a podcast is like a TV series, except there’s nothing to watch, you just have to listen. If you’re thinking this sounds like a book on tape, you’re right. Except these are crafted specifically for being told through a podcast. This is a crowd favorite for commuters mostly because of one series that is taking the Interstate by storm. It’s called Serial. It’s really more of investigative journalism, but the suspenseful plot of it makes it quite a captivating story. Think of Law and Order SVU and how you get to solve the crime right alongside Mariska Hargitay and Ice T. The podcast would be nothing without its cliffhangers. The big takeaway from narrative podcasting? LEAVE YOUR FOLLOWERS WANTING MORE AND MORE AND MORE. They should have questions developing the whole time, and when you say goodbye they should be angry. They should be fuming! They should be commenting furiously asking for answers. Play an episode of Serial you’ll get what I am saying.


            Obviously, there is balance in these two major takeaways. For example, Fresh Air interviews span such a wide array of topics, that there are no doubt episodes that attract a new set of people, or that the usual listeners choose to skip. Interviews are wide-ranging. At the same time, not everything can be a cliffhanger about a murder, so not every podcast can actually leave the readers furiously typing questions. As in just about everything in life, balance is best.  I am going to borrow cliff-hanger in my podcasts in the sense of leaving my listeners with a single question. They won’t be calling me to find out, but they’ll have just enough reason to tune in the next week. Maybe a better word than cliff-hanger is seduction.

Multi-modality is tricky when it comes to a podcast. The people can only hear but this audio mode has a lot of intricacies within it. Sound effects, word patterns, and external clips are all ways to make this more multi-modal within the mode. Podcasts can have theme songs, music breaks, closing “credits” and more. No need to be boring, the ears are your oyster!

I am pretty excited about the idea of podcasting. We’ll see as I keep developing ideas if it is what I want to pursue. One thing’s for sure though, all those Terry Gross car naps definitely just paid off.



Multiple Multimodals

Looking for multimodal projects is like looking for a straw in Starbucks…they are always there, you just have to dig around until you realize they have been in front of you the whole time. I spent a few days noting multimodal projects and it has definitely helped me brainstorm some experiments I can do for my writing assignment. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. I’ve been tasked with picking some old pieces of writing and recreating them in a multimodal way. Multimodal means using not just words but linguistic, gestural, aural, visual, and spatial features as well. Hopefully this makes some sense, but even if it doesn’t yet we’re going to look at some examples of multimodal projects.

Example one was happened upon at the bright and early hour of 8:30am on Thursday. My statistics 250 lecture could have been a professor reading off her notes in a monotone voice, but instead my professor utilized just about every kind of mode possible. There was a PowerPoint, checking off writing as well as visual. However, this was not a boring PowerPoint but instead one that involved auditory cues, lots of linguistic tools, and because of the way she pranced around the auditorium, I’d say spatial too. Overall, she took some boring content and made it pretty easy to follow and pay attention to. Success.

Example two happened during a class later that day. I may or may not have been going through Instagram and came across a post with a story. It was a picture of a girl and her friend who had passed away, and the caption was short and simple “Two years too long without you. #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #gethelp #itgetsbetter.” This post used visual and linguistic to tell a story and to tell why it was an important story. The picture helped to bring the story closer to home.

Another multimodal text I realized was the jumbotron at the football game this weekend. It tells a story about a football game through sounds, videos, numbers, and words. Not only does it tell a story, but it tells it to 108,000 people.

Aside from these, I read poems for my Spanish class, I interpreted graphs and charts for Statistics, I read stories and articles and textbooks. The patterns I saw across almost all of these things were the use of words, but also pairing words with another element. This just shows how important it is to tell your story as uniquely as you can to make it really pop.

I now need to take a piece of my own writing and make it unique like these other pieces. Noticing these different methods has given me knew ideas. Like twisting an essay into a more fictional story or making a research piece into a fun social media post. I also want to consider a movie or documentary that manages to represent my writing. The most valuable lesson I took form this exercise is that “writing” oftentimes encompasses a lot more than just actual writing. It signals anything that explains, teaches, and tells a story is doing what writing does. I’m excited to see what my classmates and I come up with!