Why Does Transcribing Take So Long?

This is the part that I hate about interviews.

I did this to myself really. You would think after four years of constantly sitting in front of a computer and typing that I would be a decent typist by now, but I am continue to be as mediocre as I was in my 6th grade keyboarding class. That being said, I keep putting myself in situations where I need to transcribe interviews. This class is the third one I have taken this semester where I needed to do this.

Thank God Canvas has that transcription feature. I would like to thank whoever on the Canvas team realized that this was a good idea and implemented this feature. I sit and I listen through my interviews, and although I am making only edits and not starting from scratch, I am constantly forgetting the little shortcut buttons that you can use to rewind and fast forward by a few seconds, causing me to just use my mouse to click the buttons myself like a noob.

The most recent time I had to do this was when I was typing up a transcript of an interview with my grandma for my Women Studies class. That interview was an hour and a half, so at least all of these interviews I have been/will be conducting have been shorter in length. The cool thing that I have found with taking the time to transcribe interviews is that while you’re going through the process, you learn things about the interview that you maybe didn’t realize while you were conducting it. You relisten so many times to get that transcript perfect that you come to know your interview frontwards and backwards, and you can already pick out some parts that you think are significant and would like to use for the final project.

I just need to sit down and finish them. No getting around it. Anyone else have that transcribing trauma**?

 

**trauma’s not really an accurate word here, but I wanted it to be alliterative.

Anxious and Strapped for Time

Time is my biggest enemy.

I really like The Twilight Zone. For those of you that are not familiar with it, it is an old sci-fi TV show from the 1960’s where spooky and improbable things happen. I think a lot about this one episode where a man received a stopwatch that could pause time, and I think about all of the things that I could accomplish with all of that extra time.

I had this same problem when I was in Gateway. While in Gateway, I had an overloaded schedule, and I found myself then getting anxious that I wouldn’t have the time to do everything that I wanted to do. I found myself up late at night reading research papers to try and feed my project, and I have now also been doing the same for this Capstone project! I have come full circle.

The old fears are starting to come back. What if this project sucks? I’m starting to get the feeling that I am behind on everything, and sometimes I just need to remind myself to take a deep breath and relax because I definitely will not be able to solve anything if I am freaking out. For some context, my Capstone project is about the discussion around the lack of women in STEM, and my final project will be a podcast where I interview women of several ages in several places among the STEM pipeline while I discuss the research and thoughts behind this issue.

Things are running late for a couple of reasons. For one, I was too chicken to try and contact people when I first said that I would because reaching out to people I don’t know well for favors gives me nightmares. Second, scheduling conflicts on both my end and my interviewees’ ends have pushed back my interviews further than I wanted them to. I know that I still have another few weeks before the final project is due, but at the same time I ONLY HAVE ANOTHER FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE FINAL PROJECT IS DUE.

I’m not sure what type of advice to ask for here. It just would feel nice to know that I am not alone.

An ePortfolio At Last!

It is done! After so much writing and revision and overall Googling when I could not get the webpage to work, my ePortfolio is up and ready for viewing.

This semester, I would say that the biggest way that I have grown as a writer is that I have really learned that I have the power to control what I write about. After years of high school writing papers assigned by teachers and the past couple of years of undergrad writing only professionally/technically, I have given myself a chance to open up and let my writing be about me. I have also learned to let my audience for this writing also be me, as the primary purpose for this writing is for me to be proud of it and enjoy what I have done. Looking back at my ePortfolio, I am proud of the work that I have put together over the past semester and the effort and hours that I put in, and as long as I am proud of my own writing then that is all that matters.

This ties into the idea of perfectionism that I also have about my writing and everything else that I do, and I want to continue to build on this throughout the minor. I want to reach a point where I am always proud of my work not just when I have had a moment of inspiration, but just knowing the time and effort that I have put in should be enough.

With this, I would like to continue to add onto my voice in my writing in future semesters of writing classes. If I am writing primarily for myself, then hopefully it will be easier for that true voice to come out and be known to everyone else. This major that I have may for the most part be for getting a job, but this minor is for me.

Check out my ePort here!

Letter to Future Gateway Students

Dear Future Gateway Students,

Welcome to Writing 220! It will be quite a journey, but hopefully you will be able to look back on your time and finished product fondly at the end.

My biggest takeaways from this course is the necessity of not just writing well, but writing often. I think the two really go hand-in-hand. After a long summer of not really writing, it is easy to have fallen into a slump where the words no longer come to you as easily and you sit and stare in front of your paper for awhile and wonder what to do next. This course had a LOT of assignments, oftentimes being due between 2 and 4 times a week. Not only is this a lot of constant writing, but it is a constant reminder of the importance to keep doing small writing assignments to keep your brain active and thinking. I really do think that this constant writing has helped get me back into the flow of writing that I had previously lost from years of taking non-writing based classes.

I feel like I was most challenged in sharing my work with my peers. As a perfectionist, it is hard for me to let something go to share with others before it is in what I consider to be its best state. As there were so many small assignments and constant sharing and feedback with the members of our blog group, I was not able to make everything that I wrote a completely polished piece with tons of revision and thought put into it, and it was frightening for some assignments to know that people were reading and reflecting on something I had done that had not yet reached its full potential. As I have been having more practice with writing as I mentioned above, it also became easier for my thoughts to come to me faster in the way that I want them to, and so it became easier to write on the fly. Still working on that perfectionism thing though. TBD.

What surprised me most about the course I think was how much I found that I liked blogging. I had never really tried it much before, the only time I had being for another class where we blogged with a response to something we had read. In that class though, it didn’t feel like I could be personal like I could with this blog, and it was always fun to search for memes online that I thought were fitting for my topic. I’m considering doing something similar just for myself personally, maybe not even publishing it but just having this online presence that I can return to. Perhaps I can make it a part of my ePortfolio and keep it updated.

The practical advice that I have for incoming minor students is to relax. Relax if your writing isn’t perfect, or you don’t know what your final project is going to be, or you are overwhelmed by how much has to go into the ePortfolio. Just relax. It’s going to be fine; just breathe.

If I was starting the course all over again, I think I would have more fun with my blog posts. I would try to make them sillier and funnier and just let myself laugh at the things that I had to say. I would also make keeping up with the assignments in this course more of a priority. This semester with all of my other work and classes it was hard at times to keep up with the workload and I found myself submitting assignments last minute and not being as pleased as I could be with the quality of my work. If I were to do it all again, I would force myself to make time.

This class has made me excited for what the rest of the minor will bring. I took a class last semester that counts towards this minor, but I didn’t get the full picture of what my experience would entail until I took this class. I love that this class has pushed me to create an ePortfolio showcasing me, and giving me something that I can continue to work on and be proud of. Hopefully you will too by the end of your gateway course.

 

Best of luck,

Amy

Re-Visiting “Why I Blog”

It’s funny, after re-reading Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” I sat here and pondered what I wanted to write, not daring to type a single word until a well-thought out discussion had been thought of. And then I remembered that this is a blog and I literally just got done reading about how blogging is all about action, all about the now. And I realized that I needed to start writing in this very moment!

But in all seriousness, I agree with Sullivan that blogging is an excellent medium to allow you to get your spur of the moment thoughts out there. So much of my time writing has been spent sitting there and waiting for inspiration to come to me or being afraid to start writing those first few words with the fear that they will be absolutely terrible. I want to get back to the reason that I really wanted to pursue the minor in writing in the first place: the fact that I think I am hilarious and I narcissistically love to read my own thoughts, especially the ones written late at night when my sarcasm is at an all-time high. As I most likely will be planning on using my work from the minor for more professional reasons, I most likely will not be including any of these late night thoughts in any of the pieces that will make it to my ePortfolio, but I do enjoy the opportunity to write these blog posts and share my thoughts as they come to me.

Clearly, Orwell and Didion and their “Why I Write” pieces come from different times than Sullivan’s “Why I Blog”, so they were not able to give their two cents on this fairly new form of self-expression. However, I think that Didion would really enjoy blogging, just in its very free and readily accessible nature that Sullivan touches on. Didion writes in order to make sense of the world around her and to provide a story to the things that only she can see. With so much quickly changing, I can see Didion being the type of person who rushes to grab a napkin to jot down her thoughts while they are still in her head, like someone who keeps a dream journal next to their bed so they can capture the dream’s essence before it slips away. Blogging could provide Didion a way to quickly respond to her thoughts and keep a log of her experiences, allowing her to keep living without anything bogging her down.

I see Orwell as the opposite, as someone who needs the rules and formal notions of professional writing to keep him grounded. He clearly states that writing for political purposes has been his main drive because he feels that that is what provided the most significance and necessary opinion of the time. I do not think that Orwell would like either the unpolished nature of the blog or the easily available interaction with readers. I can see Orwell wanting all of his thoughts and arguments to be well thought over and to get to have the last word with his audience; anything else would lessen his credibility.

Drafting and Revising Your Project

I’m going to have to be honest here. Reading this assignment and the chapter in Writer/Designer  was the first time that it really hit me that the ePortfolio project is its own composition. Looking through ePortfolios from past semesters of Writing 220 students, I thought, “what a nice way to bring together their work from the semester”, and that was that. But now that I thought of it, what was the ePortfolio but just one big multimodal project encompassing the smaller multimodal projects? And I panicked a little inside.

spongebob_brain_fire

Ok maybe more than a little.

But I found that reading did Writer/Designer really seem to help. This was my first hearing of a Rough Cut, as I do not have much experience with constructing multimodal projects.

I personally always seem to have trouble writing rough drafts. It is half my perfectionist nature and half my hatred for revision that causes me to spend an inordinate amount of time on my rough draft in order to reach as close to perfection as possible the first time around. I believe this is also due to the fact that in school we always have seemed to place emphasis on the first draft, and then this magical revision/editing process seems to occur and you end up with your polished final draft. What frightens me is the ambiguity of this middle part. This revision process could involve just a few minor vocabulary tweaks, or it could lead to you rewriting the entire damn assignment.

It was comforting to read this chapter and have the process broken up into Storyboards, then Rough Cuts, then Rough Drafts, and then eventually Final Drafts. I felt safer reading the clearly defined things to look for and steps to follow at each part of the process. I know that writing and creativity are often about feeling free and not being confined within a structure, but I would be lying if I said that I did not thoroughly enjoy structures.

And now that it has been better laid out for me, I can rest easy knowing that I will get through this, and my brain can return to a calmer state.

happy-brain

Blogging Your Progress

It was definitely nice to have some time in class today to sit back and think about my re-purposing project. Outside of the Writing 220 classroom, I feel a thousand distractions pulling me a hundred different ways, but inside today was quite calm as I sat there in front of my laptop while Jack Johnson Pandora played in the background. I am beginning to think that I need to find myself a place on campus that I can designate as my “writing space”, a place that I do not associate with my other school work and concerns. Perhaps there I can find peace.

As I have learned with any research paper I have ever written, the research part is a crucial first step. Unlike my original piece that I am modeling this one off of, I cannot just begin writing and pull from my own thoughts and experiences as I go. No, I realized today as I looked around at everyone else beginning their shitty first drafts that I was still a ways off from that. Instead, I began the next best thing: an outline. I currently do research on campus in which I am in the process of also writing a research paper, so luckily I feel confident that I will know the steps that I need to take to make an outline and turn it into a full piece.

This first draft is due the 15th, correct? That gives me 10 days to conduct my research, plan my thoughts, and get it all out into a draft that may or may not be absolute shit. This means that I cannot get too caught up in the “research” part of my research paper, something that I have been prone to doing in the past. I’m hoping to finish collecting all of my multimodal sources within the next week and have a plan for how I would like to use all of them, and then that will give me roughly 4 days to get that first draft out.

I guess my biggest fear at this point is that I will really delve into my research, and I will find that I cannot make of it what my vision has been all along. By that point, I’m not sure if it will be too late to change the way I re-purpose the document. The hardest part with all of this is that so much of my final work is going to be based off of previous work that I have not found yet, more so than the piece that I am actually re-purposing.

Anyways, at this point I have my fingers crossed that my vision will be able to come to life. Either way, I look forward to having something to show Shelley and talk about. I’m ready for this project to be underway.

Planning Project 1

A common theme that we have seen emerge in our readings for this class thus far is the importance of authentic writing, that is, bringing a sense of honesty to your piece. This was also the case when I took English 325 last year, and from that point onward I decided to make that my mission for my writing. As I’m sure is the case for many others, a brutally honest piece of writing truly stands out to me, and I can’t help but admire the realness and blunt nature that some authors are able to bring to the page. An example of writing that fits this is an essay that I read also in English 325 called My Body, My Weapon, My Shame by Elwood Reid.

“Forget touchdowns, I played football for the chance to hit another man as hard as I could – to fuck him up, move through him like wind through a door. Anybody who tells you different is a liar.”
giphy-1

This is one of the first opening lines of Reid’s essay in which he details his short career playing football for a Big Ten school (fun fact: it was actually Michigan). Even my first time reading it, I was already hooked by this line. The cursing, the blunt nature of the statement, and the unapologetic shock factor all combine to form the style for the rest of the writing, a style that says, like it or not, but this is how this shit went down.

And shit did go down.

Reid does not hold back in this paper as he describes everything from the “silence [that] follows the cruel twist of limbs as the pain rushes in the way oxygen blows through the streets of a firebombed city” as the result of a hit during a game, to the highly immoral behavior that surrounds him as he revels in the glory of being a star athlete in an environment that worships it.

giphy

 

Reid is not here to hold your hand or give you a trigger warning before he dives in. He is not here to sugar coat his experiences to protect the reputation of his alma mater. And I am glad that he isn’t. It makes for a truly engaging read.

This is the type of impact that I want my writing to have. I want to be in control of how my reader understands and reacts to my writing, and I can only hope to write something that will someday have a profound consequence on those who happen to stumble upon it.

Even the ending provides no solace for the reader if they are hoping for an uplifting conclusion. Why shouldn’t the audience feel the pain that the author does?

“Sometimes my neck and back lock up without warning, and I fall, and I’m reminded that I did bad things for football and it did bad things to me. It left me with this clear-cut of a body, a burned-out village that I sacked for a sport.”

It is this passion, this depth, this emotion that I wish to emulate.

What are Multimodal Projects?

I have to admit that upon first reading the title of this assignment/consequent article that I had no idea what a multimodal project was. I read the warning that I needed potentially several days to collect my multimodal pieces for this blog post, and I dreaded the research that would need to be done and the incessant critiquing and nitpicking to find the perfect forms of media that could fit this heavy description. The joke was on me. Multimodal projects and presentations are all around us, and I unknowingly view them every single day.

We have this video above that was originally supposed to be a gif, but my computer saved as a video instead despite my wishes. Here we have examples of linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural modes. We can see the linguistic mode in the text provided at the bottom of the screen to represent the otter’s thoughts as he tries to stack the cups. The text about the otter’s difficulty in stacking the cups doesn’t arrive until after we watch his fruitless attempts and his word choice (“You see this shit?”) all help add to the comedic effect of the gif. Without the text provided, it would just be a cute video of an otter stacking some cups, but now we can see that he is actually frustrated in how he is failing at putting them together, and it is instead hilarious. Likewise, the way we watch the otter move his hands (gestural), the perspective that we have as the viewer (visual), and the proximity that we as the viewer have to the subject of this gif (spatial) also help enhance our enjoyment of this form of media.

 

This next form of media is a clip from a TV show that I really enjoy and really admire the way that they have organized the opening credits. It is called The Twilight Zone, and it was a science fiction show that aired in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. In watching it, we get another mode that we weren’t able to pick up from the previous form of media, the aural mode. We hear the background music that is now so famous, and still so chilling and eerie. You can tell from the music right away exactly what you are getting yourself into by watching this. Other versions of the theme song involve the sound of shattering glass and creaking doors, other noises meant to set the viewer on edge before the program even begins. We also have the voice of the narrator, which though calm, also has a spooky sense about it. For the visual mode, we have this background of space and the black and white picture of the screen. The black and white of it not only reflects the time period that this piece of media is from, but like space also seems more sinister, and less like the life that we know today.

In the linguistic mode, we can go back to the delivery of the words of the narrator. The spoken words are calm, yet telling of an impending doom, making them more frightening for the listener/viewer than if they had been spoken in terror. In our spatial mode we also have the change in perspective with the opening shot of the spinning cone, confusing the viewer as they open up. The only type of mode that this piece lacks is gestural, for there are no people shown in it. Together, these modes of media create a sinister television opening that prepares the audience for something unexpected and frightening at the same time.

Comparing these two pieces, we can see that aside from using many of the same modes, the two have little in common. We know that the dates that they were each created were at least 50-60 years apart, and they have very different purposes. The first gif was for comedic effect while the second video was to spook its viewers. The first is also a depiction of real life while the second is a concept of an otherworldy science fiction genre. I think that this is to be expected though. Multimodal projects are so prevalent in our society that it is natural that they can be used to express any sort of thought or idea in any form that we as humans are capable of. Even though our forms of media and communication have changed throughout history, we can still trace them back to these five essential modes that we will continue to use to express our thoughts.

How Writing Leads to Thinking

While reading this article, I was reminded of a research paper that I wrote when I was in 7th grade. The guideline for the research was to scour the books, encyclopedias, and databases that my middle school library offered and collect at least 100 bullet points of notes before we could begin writing the paper. I quickly collected my 100 notes, then collected another 50, then 100 more, finally only stopping when I was pulled aside by the teacher and told that I needed to start writing. Like Hunt describes, I was stuck in this thinking that I would never truly reach the end of all possible research, there would always be another article, another chapter that could finally bring me the inspiration I needed to master my topic. I also knew that doing the research is the easy part, and I was content to prolong it in order to put off the stress of pulling my first few thoughts out of the air.

This piece seems to go along nicely with the “Shitty First Drafts” paper that we read previously. Both of them seem to have the same idea from how I see it: writing is hard, but you can’t let that stop you. I can’t even count how much writing I have delayed until the last possible moment because I did not know where to begin, and I was insecure at the thought of not knowing where to begin. In my eyes, the Minor in Writing program is a way to open students up to accepting their shitty first drafts and not being afraid to begin writing, even if they don’t quite know where they’re going yet. We should write because we enjoy it, and the length of the process that it takes is not a mark on our abilities, but an indication of the passion we have for our subjects and how we convey them.

With that in mind, my goal is to be more forgiving of myself in my initial stages of writing. Too often, I spend hours on the first page of my first draft because I would feel shame to have it be any less than I have envisioned it to be. I want to accept the fact that the act of my writing will bring out the ideas hidden in my subconscious, and I shouldn’t beat myself up for not being perfect from the beginning.