Who’s Your Audience?

I feel like my project was a weird one in terms of figuring out audience. My project was focused on the creation of a design proposal for the new location of the peer writing center. The proposal itself is meant for the administration. However, figuring out the audience for the overall capstone was more of a struggle.

I think my struggles with audience and genre went together (read about my dilemma of genre here). I didn’t think that anything I created would belong in the academic writing center canon. I played around with the idea of having the audience be other peer writing consultants (especially the ones in the design committee I led). But, after our first meeting, I realized that getting people to do extra readings outside of class was a pipe dream. And so, I was kind of stuck.

A lot of the time, I have come to realize, things are only realized after they are attempted. My process this semester was essentially this:

1.) I would do the research and figure out how to start thinking about design

2.) Figuring out how to get a small committee of other consultants up to speed faster than it took me without requiring them to do the same research

3.) Having discussions about our center specifically in order to diagnose what’s working well and what isn’t

4.) WRITING THE PROPOSAL

It took until late March to write the proposal. And, finally, once we had gotten to that point I realized that we had so much more to say than we were able to put on the page. I had been stressing myself out by thinking about all of the things I would have to create to supplement the proposal in my capstone project and didn’t think about the fact that the proposal was the project.

Project description taken from my annotated bibliography:

I will begin by outlining the problem (new writing center space) then go into what the mission/purpose of our writing center is. Then, mirroring discussions we’ll be having in the writing center, I will describe our current center and how well it serves the mission/purpose. I will then share the steps we will take to create a proposal for the new center while sharing some resources. The conclusion of the project will be the design proposal and a letter describing how well this process worked out for us.

We ended up covering a lot of this in our actual proposal. But, what we didn’t get to add were all of the stories and anecdotes that came up during the process of design. And, because I want to make sure they still get shared with future consultants, I’ll be adding some into my project. 

Rolling with it

One of my biggest challenges over the semester has been figuring out what exactly I want my project to be. My last post (way, way back oops) was about narrowing down what the topic of my project should be. I remember that when I figured that out, it was like being enveloped by a warm blanket of relief. That lasted until I realized I had no clue what genre I wanted to go for.

My project topic has been the creation of a design proposal for the peer writing center’s new location. The immediate genres that came to mind were 1.) academic research paper and 2.) some form of case study. I was not a huge fan of either of these options. I did not think that anything I wrote would be at the same caliber of the academics in the writing center canon, mainly because of limited experience and lack of knowledge. And, my only experience with case studies has been Harvard Business case studies that we discuss in the classroom. I had no desire to write in a genre that I’ve grown to strongly dislike.

However, for the sake of having an idea, I committed to the case study (kind of). An excerpt from my Project Proposal:

I am currently thinking of the project overall as a description of our process. The overarching project can be viewed as a case study, but some parts of the finished work may appear more bibliography-like or archival in nature. The narrative that I want throughout is going to be based in Sweetland and our efforts. The focus of the project will be exploring 1. What the mission of our center is (and what we would like to do better) and 2. Figuring out how to translate that into a physical space.

Can you tell that I have no clue? I thought that if I explained my project in as many ways as possible, there would be no way I could be wrong. The overall effect was major confusion. But, luckily, I was struck by inspiration from the unlikeliest source. My Cost Accounting professor has dedicated an inordinate amount of time to keeping us up to date with what Elon Musk is up to. He had us read a blog series about Musk’s different ventures from Wait But Why. In many ways, the blogs read like a case study of Elon Musk and the technology behind his ventures. They educated both on the issue at hand and about Musk as a person while keeping a tone of brevity.

Of course, since finding a model for my project, things have changed again. But I’ve decided to just go with it.

Challenge Journal 2: How to Begin

In my first Challenge Journal entry I talked about how endings are my weakness. Well, in the first stages of the project, I realized that beginning wasn’t that smooth either. Going into this semester, I had no ideas for what I could potentially do for my capstone. I think that, as a sophomore in the gateway, I expected my future self to have a greater clarity and wiseness that comes with age. In reality, I’ve just started wearing more leggings and less jeans. In the gateway course I set out to write a comparison/contrast of western astrology and Chinese astrology and ended up writing mostly about my childhood.

Consistently, I end up writing about my childhood:

English 225:

As a young girl growing up on television and movies, I latched on to every single Asian female I ever saw on a screen…

            English 325:

When I was even younger, before the great growth spurt of 2007, I would flip through the American Girl Doll catalogues that were sent to our home, circling the ones that I thought looked most like me…

My Gateway Project:

I grew up with my parents’ superstitions. It manifested itself in different ways…

            (Trust me, there was a lot more in all of these papers)

Though I remain passionate about exploring my heritage and reflecting on my past, I wanted to have a project that didn’t directly relate. Of course, our backgrounds and identities permeate all our actions and beliefs, but I wanted to see what I could do with a project where I didn’t have decades of knowledge to fall back on. So, this ideation process for the Capstone project was an exercise in finding out what I really care about besides what it means to be Chinese-American.

And, wow, it was tough. An excerpt from my brainstorming:

Things I know/want to know

-Facts

                        – Cryptocurrencies (kind of, a little bit)

                        – How to write a cover letter/a resume

                        – Recognizing political figures and their platforms

                        – Nutrition

                        – Mandarin Chinese (would like to learn more)

                        – Sports (rules of football???)

-Concepts

                        – Skincare (in general)

                        – Asian food   

                        – Current events

-Feelings

                        – Generally want to read more instead of watching TV

                        – Feeling productive; waking up earlier

                        – Wanting more energy (diet? Lifestyle changes?)

 

The main theme of the most compelling ones (at least in my eyes) was things that I am bad at because I don’t enjoy them. Waking up early? Nope. Understanding the nutritional value of my food? No, I’d rather not. Watching football? No. And, the things that I do enjoy (food, skincare, finance, politics) are not necessarily things that I would want to write about.

I was stuck. The ideas that I liked most (trying a new sleeping routine or learning more about nutrition) were things that I really do not want to do. And, the ones that were doable were not compelling enough for me.

In the end, what really helped was narrowing the scope. I decided to choose a Capstone project related to the peer writing center for two main reasons: 1.) I think the Sweetland crew are the raddest mix of people on campus and 2.) I felt most comfortable with the writing center director as a potential consultant. Once I realized that I would need a consultant for my project, most of my ideas flew away. I mean, who would I consult with about a new sleep schedule? Literally nobody I know has a healthy sleep schedule, and I definitely don’t know any experts on the topic.

So, if you too are indecisive about choosing a topic (the ability to do whatever you want is exciting in both a yippee kind of way and an oof kind of way), perhaps being most aware of your restrictions is most helpful. That being said, telling people to cut off their dreams is not something that I normally do. But, if you are like me, maybe you need to be aware of your realm of possibility before you go off dreaming about waking up an extra hour early to fit in some yoga. Of course, even though you may feel like you have set boundaries for yourself, there’s still a million possibilities in front of you. But, out of the million, there may be only like 40 good ones.

Challenge Journal 1: Starting at the End

My writing routine starts with lots of preparation. It takes me about a week to figure out what I want to write, some time to research my topic (if necessary), and a couple of days to perfect my outline. Throughout this time, I feel stressed and ineffective. As someone who works in the writing center and has taken many writing classes, I know that every part of the writing routine is important. But, mentally, when you know that you don’t have even a first draft in your back pocket, you have a sense of panic.

Because I devote so much time to preparation before putting words on paper, the actual writing doesn’t take that long. This part of the writing process, when you furiously type all of your ideas out, is my favorite. The words just flow out, like vomit.

But, my biggest writing fear is ending. I am notoriously weak at ending my writing. I think it’s a psychological thing – I also hate ending things in real life. Or, maybe I’m just exhausted by the point I get to writing the ending. Perhaps I’m so done with writing that my endings just always turn out trash. I have a tendency to write in the same room in the Michigan Union. It has decent ambiance but it’s also very chilly. Maybe I just get too cold to pay attention.

Either way, in order to devote more attention to my endings, I’ve decided that it may be a good idea to write them first. Or in the middle. Either way, I’m going to avoid writing it last.

True facts about the Gateway course

the end

True fact: The Gateway course goes by way faster than you expect or want it to. You’ll learn that writing rarely ever feels done. Just because you’ve turned an assignment in doesn’t mean you can’t go back and change it. In the same way, the end of the course creeps up on you in a way you don’t expect. One minute you’re knee deep in drafts and trying to figure out how to get video equipment. The next, you’re writing a blog post for posterity.

Second true fact: This course won’t ever feel like work. This course will feel like release.

Third true fact: You’ll leave the course feeling like you didn’t get to know your cohort enough. Get to know them. You have an advantage. The writing that you do in this course is raw and you’ll get to know your classmates more through their writing than you ever will through talking to them about their majors. The mental images that you begin to associate with your classmates are their ePortfolios, their words, their way of giving constructive criticism.

Fourth true fact: Choose a project II that you won’t get sick of. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it.

Fifth true fact (only true if this is your first class of the day): You’ll be willing to get up for this class. You’ll be sad when you don’t.

I’m going to miss the writing. I’m going to miss my classmates. Make the most of it.

getting there

Did you know that ISS (instructional support services) is funded by LSA? Did you know that only LSA students can use their equipment? Did you know that 1. I don’t own a camera or tripod and 2. I’m not in LSA?

Getting the camera was a process. It involved a bit of subterfuge. By subterfuge, I mean that I begged my friend to pretend to have a school project so that I could get the equipment for my own project. It worked, but plans were delayed for a while.

So I filmed the video and kind of roughly edited it. By roughly I mean that it’s about 10 minutes long (I’m aiming for less than 5).

The plan:

  1. Figure out how to make the video brighter. I filmed it in a poorly lit room at midnight, so it’s not the best quality.
  2. Make an intro explaining my terrible drawing skills.
  3. Do the voiceover.
  4. Edit so that the video plays in time with the voiceover.
  5. Upload to Vimeo (because YouTube is so passé).

The only thing that may not happen is Vimeo. I have the weird feeling that I may need to shell out money for a Vimeo membership. Other than that, I stand by everything.

Resting _____ face.

I’m easily annoyed. I think it’s my natural state. Some people are neutral. Others are happy (how). And then there’s me. I’m perpetually annoyed.

Of course, this means that when things are actually annoying, I reach peak annoyance levels.

Like when people don’t realize how loud their voices are. Or when they tell me that I have resting bitch-face. Or when they take off their shoes (some people should keep their shoes firmly on). When people decide that playing their music out loud is an okay thing to do. When people are being loud when I’m trying to study. When people try to explain things at me instead of to me. When cars don’t stop for me. When people walk too slowly in front of me. When people complain about how fast I walk. Actually, I don’t mind that. It makes me feel powerful. I walk with a purpose. I walk with a destination. I walk because I’m perpetually two minutes late to everything.

Also, when the doors to buildings close after 6pm and don’t let students in. Sometimes I’m cold and just want to remember what warm feels like. Why won’t you let me in, Mason Hall. Why. I just want to remember what having toes feels like. I just want to feel dry and warm for the 30 seconds that it takes to walk through your long-ass hallway. Just let me be warm.

When the dining hall serves terrible food for dinner but great food for lunch????? North Quad you need to build up to the ending. John Green said that he would never sacrifice a happy middle for a happy ending, but I firmly believe in happy endings. Why can’t North Quad get with the program. I just want good dinners. I just want happy endings. Please. Please. Please stop serving me dry, unseasoned chicken. And why did you think you could make a watermelon salsa. Nobody should be making a watermelon salsa. Also, there was too much garlic in that pasta yesterday.

 

roar

writing minor lioness

Written using the most dangerous writing app:

I know a guy who’s a literal golden retriever. Not a smart one who can do tricks, but the dumb ones that love everybody. I think those are the best somehow. but like I don’t know what I am. I’ve been told that I’m cat-like. I’m kind of introverted, lash out at people sometimes, and can sometimes be overly cute if I really want something. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that last part. I don’t think the cuteness works on anybody but my mom actually. Sometimes I feel like a sloth. I just hate moving. Moving is so difficult. If I could be horizontal forever, I don’t think it would be that bad. I’d eventually learn how to eat. My body would adjust. And I’d never have to get up. Honestly I just want to sleep for a full night for once. I’m just so tired. But like I get at least 5 hours every night? Other students are way worse off than me. But like I feel so tired. So, so tired. I love sleeping a lot lot lot. Mainly because I never get it. I’m always chasing it though. Sleep is playing hard to get with me. Everything is so hard to get. But is it really? Are things really hard to get? Am I a cat? I’m sure as hell not a golden retriever. Maybe I’m a hamster on a wheel, trying so hard to run somewhere that doesn’t exist until I die. Living is a part of death. Death is a part of living. My friend is leaving me. People leave. This is sad. Maybe I am a cat. But, I feel like so many of us are cats. Maybe I’m a lion, specifically. They sleep a lot. I could do that. I can be scary. I have a lot of hair. I could be a lion. I read in the news about that one lioness who grew a mane. Maybe I’m that lion. Specifically that lioness with a mane. I’m a leo. It kinda makes sense. I’m also an ox. Maybe I’m also a cow, a work animal, toiling so hard for someone else’s land only to be used as food when I’m no longer useful.

pupaya

 

p.s.

I was falling asleep in class and decided to open up the most dangerous writing app and start typing everything my professor said. Very effective. Was wide awake until the 20 minutes ran out.

stalking people on the internet

I’m so glad that this was an assignment. It gave me an actual, legitimate reason to poke around in people’s lives. After going through the list of ePortfolios from the Fall 2014 cohort, I narrowed down the list of blogs that stood out to me to 3 different ones.

The first one that stood out to me was actually a blog that I was assigned to look at in class. By far, I think that it’s the best mix of visual appeal and practicality that I’ve seen from all of the blogs thus far.

I really liked the organization, pictures, and font of Cameron’s ePortfolio. I don’t know how well I could duplicate the effect because I don’t have my own pictures that look as nice. However, his ePortfolio is the dream.blog 1

Second, Brendan’s portfolio stood out to me. While I liked the organization and the overall presentation of the blog, the real reason that his blog stood out to me had nothing to do with that. Brendan was one of my orientation leaders–I realized this once I clicked on his About Me page. He was the guy that made us walk through the fountain. blog 3

My blog is probably going to look more like Brendan’s if I’m lucky. I have minimal decorating skills.

If I could, I’d want to imitate the layout of either of their blogs. Both were easy to use and very professional. Cameron’s was aesthetically more pleasing mainly because he had a lot of great panorama photos to use in the background. How appropriate is Google Images?