Reflection on Reflection

As I re-read my evolution essay, I realized that I was not in as bad of shape as I thought. I actually like what I wrote! Reflecting upon what I feel the four real people (who will not be named) would think of my paper I feel confident that all four parties would at least enjoy what I wrote. It incorporates a lot of style, and person anecdotes, but also includes the required references for the evolutionary essay.
I think all of my four audience members will always feel welcome in my work, since I think most people have experienced feeling burned out. That’s an easy feeling to buy into in my opinion, especially for other college students, or professionals.
One of my main concern stems from the fact that this TOO casual and honest, and a little rambling. It’s far from a 5-paragraph essay form and it incorporates a lot of informal language this is honest, but not necessarily professional. Perhaps an expert in my field would feel turned off by the liberality of my writing style.
I am slightly concerned that someone reading it might not see “the point.” It’s a personal narrative of my experience becoming a writer, and me reflecting upon how I feel about my writing today in contrast to my freshman year of college.
In spite of this, I feel like I want to keep the essay the way that it is. Yeah, it is my honest feelings spewed onto a page, but at least the reader gets an accurate depiction of who I am as a person, and as a writer: I push back, I challenge boundaries, and I question things. This essay is more “in your face” in that aspect. In my other writing, I am usually more of a subtle rebel.

Annotating with Attitude

I was feeling pretty stuck on my evolution essay. It was really evolving the way I was intending. At least not evolving very quickly. So I decided to succumb to Shelley’s suggestion of annotating my own rough draft.

To be honest, I was pretty skeptical going into it. I didn’t really understand the concept at first. I thought it meant creating an annotated bibliography precis of my piece that I was working on. When I did understand that it meant going though and electronically commenting on your own piece, I thought it sounded like unnecessary busy work that wouldn’t get me any closer to a completed essay. I thought I can totally just think those thoughts in my head, why go through and actually type them out that’s pointless.  (Sorry Shelley! Sometimes I have a bad attitude).

I started annotating reluctantly, like a pre-teen setting out to clean your bedroom after your mom asked them to, thinking in your head this is so stupid.

giphy
Me when I started annotating

But, also similar to a pre-teen who has just finished cleaning your room after your mom asked you to, I realized that it wasn’t really that bad, or that hard, and was actually quiet helpful.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.56.19 PM
Screen shot of me annotating my own piece

As I started to annotate my own draft, I was able to look upon my essay like a third party. I was detached from the idea that I was writing this paper. Instead, I was critiquing this paper. This gave me a mindset which allowed me to really pick apart what was working, what wasn’t, and where I needed to add/subtract words. Doing this exercise actually gave me a direction- it showed me specific places where I can work on my evolution essay to improve it.

I guess I should have known to trust Shelley’s advice. After all, being in both her Gateway and Capstone, she does feel a bit like my writing mom.

“A Primer” Discussion

So my time has come to lead discussion, and I don’t know about you guys, but I think a little break from reading articles would be refreshing. For that reason, I decided to change the reading for my discussion from The History of the Croissant (which is still an awesome article, if you want to read it) to a poem that has been one that I go back to read time and time again. Its called “A Primer” by Bob Hicok.

This poem means a lot to me. I have a sentimental attachment to it like it’s a tangible material item, much like the way I feel about my favorite old ratty teeshirt. My first encounter with it was at our family Christmas gathering three years ago when my godmother, Lynne Rae Perkins (an awesome author herself) read it aloud at the party. Maybe it was the rum and eggnog, or maybe just my deep love for my home state, but at the time it really struck a cord. It has stayed with me ever since.

“A Primer” is a poem by Bob Hicok, a poet who has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University and Virginia Tech.  It was written for The New York Times in 2008, as a dedication to his state of origin. I would suspect that it would be particularly appealing to someone like me, who also was born in raised in Michigan. However, since all of us live in Michigan currently, I think we can all relate to the poem. I also think that anyone who reads it could at least appreciate the meditative simplicity of Hicok’s words and understand the picture of Michigan that he verbally paints.

Here are my instructions:

Read the poem once. And then read it again. I don’t think that poetry should ever be read just once. So much can be missed in the initial read. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the first time I read something, I retain almost nothing.

As  you read the poem, consider what it makes you think, wonder, and feel (NOT what it means, that’s a fruitless exercise in my humble opinion). What do you think he chose the title “A Primer?” Write those thoughts down.

In our conversation, I would like to unpack this poem, along with considering the role that poetry plays in our world. Think about what poetry means to you. Do you like it? Dislike it? Never read it? Why do you think The New York Times chooses to have an entire section called “Poems”?

Writing About Writing

I still don’t know if I want to actually be a writer. I know I like writing- but I also know that I hate deadlines. I hate that feeling that there is always something due. I know I am a good writer, but am I good enough to stand out? Good enough to make a career out of it? There are a lot of good writers out there. At least I always feel like there are. That is until I try to find a good book to read.

At this point, I’ve been writing for a while but I think I am still working on finding “my voice.” Barf.

Maybe my voice will find me. Maybe it’s  floating around in the sky like a lost balloon. If it is a lost balloon, it’s probably caught in a tree somewhere. That’s just my luck.

Up until this point, I pretty much have focused my life on two things: food and the people who eat it. I write a lot about those two topics, both separately and how they interact. As much as I explore these topics, I am still interested. That’s how I know I probably should work somewhere that I can talk, think, and write, about food and people. Because it’s the only thing I care about enough to read the book instead of skimming the chapters.

Although I always write about food and/or people, lately, I have felt willing to experiment with writing about it in other genres, such as making podcast. Maybe even writing poetry if my fingers are feeling loose. Although I would like to say that this is because my creative genius spans across multiple genres, it is actually because I have been getting really burned out when it comes to writing. I honestly feel like I would rather get a small injury than write another college essay.

Back to my developing voice. (It’s developing-like photos and pubescent breasts- never quite what you envisioned but you just have to run with it and pretend that’s how it’s supposed to be.) There are some authors- mostly fiction writers come to mind –  who phrase things so amazingly it makes me think “now, THAT”S a voice.” I want to have a voice like that. One that makes the reader stop and think. Will I ever get there? the world may never know. However, I am taking little steps like working on creating metaphors that are totally spot on. I spend a lot of time thinking about that.

Today I was listening to the Moth and a storyteller, who was describing his first time eating with chopsticks. He said that when he flung a piece of sushi into the air, the  wasabi “dislodged the way that a satellite dislodges from a space ship” or something like that.

At the moment I was focusing on the Podcast, this really struck me. It just creates a visual that you can really see: the sushi moving slowly in the air, like an object in space, and the wasabi flying off. I was jealous that he came up with that metaphor, and my best metaphor in 500 words has been about a floating balloon.

I do know one thing about my “voice”: My writing is best when it is reflecting upon things I have noticed, experienced, or otherwise have some basis of knowledge on. So creative non-fiction I guess one would call it. I really like doing journalistic pieces, I discovered, because I always like writing about things I experience first hand. For that reason, I have always felt so so envious of the writers of Bon Appetit and Saveur who just get to travel, experience cool things that have to do with food, and then write about it. The cherry on top is that they actually get paid for that shit. I think that I would like to do that someday.

The only problem is that I never want to live in New York or LA. So I am kinda screwed for working at any big magazine.

I guess as a writer, I don’t know yet whether I have it in me to become a writer. I know I could become a mediocre one, but anyone who knows me knows that I am a perfectionist. I have been known to make a pie, and then remake it them same day if it’s not quite what I want it to be.  If it’s still not spot on, I will make it again the next day. That’s how I have become the baker that I am today: repetition.

Writing isn’t about repetition, it’s about writing something new. If I am going to write, it better be damn good, and something that hasn’t been written before. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Workshop Report

None of my group members were able to make it to the workshop, so I discussed my sketch draft and intro with Shelley. Coming into the workshop, my draft was pretty rough. It’s difficult to make a draft or a storyboard of a podcast that involves interviews. Most of my introduction consisted of questions that I am planning to ask my interviewees.

  1. What was the most helpful aspect of this workshop? Why/how? The most helpful aspect of this workshop was getting some sources from Shelley and also a second opinion on what kinds of questions I should ask the people I interview.
  2. How are you feeling about this project now as compared to when you came into the workshop? Why? When I came into the workshop, I felt unsure about if my questions were good, and pretty lost when it comes to what I want my introduction to be. However, after leaving I got some new interview questions, and also validation that the questions I asked were good ones. I also got some useful direction as to where to go with the introduction.
  3. What is the most appropriate/effective role of further research now in getting you to your complete rough draft?  I really think right now that I need to delve into the technical language about creating a podcast. Shelley referred me to a book about audio reporting made by NPR, so I will start reading that as soon as it comes in from the library. She also emailed me some tips on interviewing people, which will also be useful research to apply to my conversations I have coming up. I realized this is what I need to do because I conduct my first interview in the week after spring break, and if I do not have a good grasp on how to record, it will be wasted time.
  4. What is the series of next steps (be as specific as possible!) that will take you to the complete working draft? I need to call the MLB media center about reserving equipment and learning how to use it, contact T Hetzel about how to conduct a successful interview, ask Margot and Harry for their time to interview them, read that NPR book (or at least skim it), start recording, and then start editing!

What I wish I Could Write

 

I wish I could write things that were beautiful and poignant, but also simple and true. I wish I could write something that encapsulates feelings that I have felt, but had never been able to articulate. I wish I could write like Jonathan Safran Foer, American author and professor at New York Univeristy.

In my opinion, Foer is one of the most unique authors of this century. He has a way of imagining and describing  marvelously whimsical ideas that makes the reader both smile and feel touched in some way.

An example of such quote is the following

“What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don’t really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”

-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I find myself reading quotes and segments of Foer’s book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, time and time again (it is the ONLY book I had read twice). I read them to remember again what it feels like to experience words that are so accurate and beautiful that they leave an impression on your heart. Some of his words, I carry with me in my everyday life and relationships.

Such as the quotes

 

“Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are.”

Or,

“Songs are as sad as the listener.”

These are all quotes from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which was made into a movie in 2011. Although I heard it was a pretty good movie, this makes me sad. This is because what I really love about this book is the language, and stripping the story of that dimension, in my opinion, does not give it justice.

In my project, I hope to be able to phrase things as accurately, simply, perfectly as Foer is able to. It might be difficult, but I want my podcast to leave an impression on someone who listens to it, the way that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has left an impression on me.

If you want to know more about him, here is a neat video where Foer describes his experience writing fiction.

On Pitch Fests and Being Creative

In regards to the pitch fest today, I would say that is my confidence was at a 7 before I went into it, I left feeling like a 9.  That’s a pretty decent jump in my readiness to start this project proposal!

It was three minutes to 5:30 when I started pitching. I was the last to go, and we did not get to dwell too much on my project pitch, other than me just quickly pitching. I stated my idea: a podcast about food and community that explores the topic from different angles and disciplines. Overall, my peers responded quite positively to the idea. I noticed lots of nods while I was pitching (always a good sign) and I also read a lot of supportive statements in the comment boxes on Canvas. Despite the time crunch, I felt pleasantly surprised with what came out of the pitch fest. I got three pieces of valuable advice that I think I will use when creating my official project proposal.

First, is to interview an old person.  I love old people, so right off the bat I like the idea. Also, I think it would give an interesting perspective on food and community within the modern world. A longer lifetime would provide more wisdom when it comes to changing food communities. There are not any elderly individuals in Ann Arbor that I have a strong relationship with, but perhaps I will ask one of the folks in my pottery class. If they have time to take a pottery class at 12PM on a Tuesday, they should have time to talk to me about food.

Secondly, it was pointed out that I should be the host of my podcast, the way the Ira Glass is the host of This American Life.  This really excites me; partly because I love Ira Glass and I would love to emulate him in any way, and partly because I think that having a host fits well to what I envision my podcast to be. Having a host that gives a framework to the podcast, interviews and introduces, and wraps it up would be a clever way to be sure the podcast is speaking to the audience the way I want it to.

Here’s Ira Glass being brilliant (Shelley and Britni – I know you have already seen this!)

The third piece of advice I received was to think of one question that would be the “theme” of my podcast- I would spend the house exploring this question and trying to come as close as I can to answering it. I really like this idea, because I think it will be a great way to tie everything together. However, this is also my most challenging piece of advice, because now I have the task of actually thinking of what question I want to ask. Right now I am thinking perhaps: “How does our community affect how we eat?” Please post with any ideas you may have!

With the help of my peers (and Shelley), I now feel ready to move forward and create a proposal. There may be some changes that occur between the proposal I create, and the finished project. There might be some parts about my project I don’t like and want to start over. But that’s okay. No matter what happens, it will be a lovely adventure discovering exactly what I am capable of creating.  Like Ira Glass said, its all part of the creative process.

Writing for Audiences

I belong to many different writing communities. One community that comes to mind as one I participate in on a daily basis is the community of people who write text messages. Texting my friends, family, etc is the form of writing that I would argue that I use more than any other form. In a similar train of thought, another writing community I belong to is the community of emailers. I send out emails frequently, usually in a professional manner, such as emailing my professors or potential employers. Within those two writing communities, my writing varies quite significantly.  

When I am texting my friends and family, I usually use improper grammar. Sometimes I repeat myself, or I make mistakes without editing them such as spelling a word the way that it sounds instead of how it is actually spelled (soddering versus soldering- eh they will get what I mean). I am always trying to make my friends laugh, or banter about some ongoing topic. Additionally, I use a lot of emojis or other symbols within the text. The sentences can be fragmented, or not really make sense, as long as they get my point across. When I want to use all caps, I USE ALL CAPS. When I want to curse, I write whatever I damn well please. I text under tables, while I am walking, and while grocery shopping. Texting is very casual and second nature to me. Here is an example of texts between me and a few of my friends:

texting conversation

When I email my professors, on the other hand, I scrutinize even tiny details (like saying “utilize” instead of “use” for example). I reread and edit and make sure my message comes across as sounding smart and also succinct along with mature. I make sure the grammar is perfect and the wording is on point. The message must be clear, and I cannot email them for no reason, it must have a specific purpose. I usually sit down at my computer and write an email in a 5 minute span without distractions. Emailing is much more if a serious event, and I use formal language. Here is an example of an email I wrote to one of my professors: Email convo

Reading the email, it’s not totally robotic and platonic, but it’s certainly more formal and thought-out than the texting conversation. Although both my texting language and my emailing language incorporate a little bit of my personality, the variance in the formality of the occasion force me to change my tone and style of writing. In short, based on my audience, I change my writing to get my point across.

WOoooHOOOOOO!

I am gonna keep this short and sweet. (Click here, keep tab open while reading)

The semester is finally coming to a close, and I feel like celebrating! Don’t get me wrong, Writing 220 was an excellent course, and I really cannot express how much I enjoyed getting to know all you fine folks. However, I feel on cloud nine that I am submitting this dang E-portfolio that has been looming overhead all semester, and surprisingly, I feel proud of what I have made.

I think my portfolio expresses ME as a writer, which was my goal from the beginning. As I am browsing though of the portfolios of my peers, I think that they have all achieved the same. I can’t help but smile as I recognize pieces of the individuals I have grown to be friends with, reflected in their writing.

So on that note, here is my E-portfolio! .

You better enjoy it, seeing as I poured a bazillion hours into making it 🙂 jk <3 you guys have a great summer.

The Eportfoilio Enigma

When I was perusing the pages of past years’ Gateway Eportfolios, I have to say that there were some that were shining stars, and others that – to put it bluntly-  just weren’t. Many were adequate, put together, even good. However, a few just sucked your attention in like a black hole (pardon my cosmic metaphors).  Noticing this, when reading through the questions on the Eportfolio prompt, the question that seems particularly challenging to me is:

“What are some ways your portfolio can be distinctive, both in terms of how it presents you as a writer and in terms of the media and design you employ?”

This seems like one of the most challenging aspects of ANY creative project. It is relatively easy to fulfill requirements of drawing a portrait, or baking a chocolate cake, or creating a Eportfolio website. But creating something that is compelling, distinctive, and reflects your own creative spirit is a whole different ball of wax.

So obviously this all has my gears moving, just how am I going to make my Eportfolio something distinctive that I can be proud of? I guess I will start with MODELS, MODELS, MODELS. And where better to find models than….Drum roll pleaseeeeeee…. GOOGLE!

the cyber promise land for a college student
the cyber promise land for a college student

And only a few sites down I found some cool links! Mostly portfolios from college students like us from other universities in the United States such as these ones from Auburn University. Most of the ones I liked were simple and very visual. They often highlighted one photo and used very few different fonts or colors. Here are a few of the ones I like:

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.50.34 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.52.51 PM

I think that these ones are clean and also distinctive. I would like mine to be similar, but of my own original design. The enlarged photos inspired me to maybe scan in some photos I have taken and use them within the Eportfolio. Overall, I have a long way to go, but I think looking at models to figure out what I find to be riveting along. I am taking baby mouse steps toward nailing down what kind of writer I want to portray myself as and how to accomplish that with the internet as a medium.