Draft Development Mini Assignment

When I sat down to take a stab at drafting an introduction, I felt a little bit terrified, or underprepared, rather. It felt like nothing more informed than a narrowed or focused free-write. That’s okay, though. Shelley said that the introduction can and is supposed to be, as Lamott says, “a shitty first draft.” While I was conducting this free write—I mean—introduction, I began formulating several questions about my capstone project: How do I articulate my purpose? How can I introduce myself to my audience, if they don’t know me? How can I effectively explain how personal this work is for me—that it’s entangled into my every day life and every minute thoughts. But these doubts aren’t really doubts—that is much too harsh of a word. They’re gaps in my knowledge, or better yet, my research. I say better yet because a lapse in my research takes the onus off of my person and on to my actions or behavior leading up to this project. It’s not that I’m inherently unknowledgeable I’m just not quite well-read enough to begin. I didn’t know these holes were there, and to be quite honest I might not have never known without doing this exercise. I may as well sat down to do my introduction after spring break and been SOL; I would have panicked. But now that these gaps are visible, I can conduct the research that will serve as the caulk for these cracks.

Before I started my research (at all) I thought I couldn’t pull off a project so personal to me, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to pioneer the laypeople’s sociology movement. But after having done my research (I’m still not done) I see that I’m not alone. There are plenty of people who have organized their most personal thoughts into writing that is as humorous as it is insightful; as playful as it is sociopolitical. Take Caitlin Moran’s book for example. She states, “Feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics.” Right there—that line—that is strikingly similar to my unarticulated mission statement. And it takes me close to conveying my purpose. Writers like Caitlin Moran nudge me closer and closer to being able to write a satisfying introduction. Thus, I must research more work that has the same effect on me as hers does.

That said, I still “need to know” how these people have written their introductions or author’s n
otes. In other words, how did they convey their personality (who they are) so that people could fully grasp the humor in their work? Which means I need to study more comical pieces. So for instance maybe taking a glance at David Sedaris’s openings. Or glancing at comedy writers pieces at the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker or BuzzFeed. I need to get a better grip on my tone—and how I can express it in a way that is aligned with my purpose. Does that make sense? Basically, my tone is my brand, and my brand has an affinity with my purpose. Therefore my purpose and my tone are not mutually exclusive so finding a work that is confident in their brand/tone will inform the other aspects of my rhetorical situation. And I’ll definitely be able to read some funny articles in time for my March 10th submission!

Cue the entrance of Joan Didion, my patronus. She’s not the Tina Fey I might need, but she has such a strong style—such a strong tone—that allows her to have become a strong brand. People want to buy her brand; people want to consumer her products (aka read her books). I can’t quite mimic the conventions of her tone. But I can be inspired by where it has taken her as a writer—she is so unapologetically herself.

Blog Roundtable 1 (WWW)

Hi Friends! 

There are so many bits of tasty intellect to munch on from these two episodes– but I don’t want to indulge my inner “wing nut.” Instead, I want to keep this prompt more focused and narrow and tightly bound to our theme of “generous listening.” That said, what did you think were some strong or weak questions that Josh and Hrishi had to offer? Or rather, from the angle of “generous listening,” what were some moments (in either episode) that successfully illustrated this practice? In class I shared my criticism of Hrishi in his response to Emily’s thought about the possibility of the West Wing as perhaps, “american fantasy,” rather than “liberal fantasy.” But there were so many other highs and lows for you, Alison and Michael, to share! What jumps out at you?

Welcome to my ePortfolio…

This semester flew by.

I can still feel the excitement of being accepted into the Sweetland Minor in Writing, just last year. And now, I’m creating a summary of my work in the program. This summary takes the form of an ePortfolio–a virtual threshold to my writing.

But, I don’t see this as a synopsis for my work, because it’s not a skim through my grades for the semester. But rather, I see it as the very bones of who I am as a writer, and where I’m going on this journey. I know it sounds cheesy to call a career a journey, but I’m choosing this word because it suggests that there will be high’s and low’s, not just a monotonous progressive path to writerly perfection. I’d like to think that I’m getting better as a writer, but there’s no real way for me to judge that. I can only see my progress when I take a step back, and observe it in its entirety and ask myself the larger questions about my semester in the Gateway Course. I ask myself, “Did I respond to the critiques of my rough drafts, and improve on those flaws? Was my reflection reflective enough? Am I better at acting welcoming criticism?”

These questions serve to assess who I’ve become as a writer rather than the texts themselves. Determining which projects were stronger than others is helpful, but it is the reflective material that informs me of which of my processes, as a writer, was the strongest.

And, when I take ownership of these processes, as I’m doing by publishing this ePortfolio, I’m declaring myself an author.

Orwell and I

Orwell’s four great motives for [my] writing:

(i) Sheer egoism.

I do want to come off as clever. I appreciate those who are, and I feel good about myself when people tell me that I am creative. And though I don’t see myself as “acutely selfish” I do believe that my ideas are nuanced enough to attract attention or praise. It think that’s natural of the human condition: we’re selfish beings who sometimes act altruistically when it benefits us: our social, emotional and mental health. However, I think I might be more of a journalist than a writer: I’m interested in material success just as much as I’m interested in organizing my thoughts through the ar9780141185378rangement of the written word.

 

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm.

Each morning, I leave my house at promptly 8:15 am. I take a deep breath in so that my lungs can inflate with the young day’s crisp air. I look around me, and understand that I’ll be walking alone for another fifteen minutes. I use this time to peel back the layers of my conscious and subconscious thought; I try to braid them together and draw parallels.

That was a piece of an experience that feels valuable, and “ought not to be missed.” I think it’s beautiful how we can comprehend the external world and arrange its characteristics into the written word. We can translate our senses into articulate words, sentences, essays, and novels. We can attempt to “evoke the imperfection of thought.”

(iii) Historical impulse.

I “desire to see things as they are,” and record them so that their existence is permanent through language. Personally, I tend to record personal history, because I don’t find writing about history to be as stimulating as other people do. But I decided that Orwell considered both to be likely motives for the historical impulse to write. If I don’t write about things, whether it be in a text, a blog entry, or an essay, I fear I might forget it. I fear that I might forget it in aanimal-farm-george-orwell-paperback-cover-artll of its raw, in-the-moment beauty. I fear that once the moment has passed for a sizable amount of time, I’ll never be able to access the honest emotions associated with that happening. Though there is a case for the undying nature of emotions and senses for landmark life events, events that would be difficult to erase from your sometimes absorbent, sometimes dried out, memory.

 

(iv) Political purpose.

He uses “the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense.”

This represents the desire to progress society01-Olle-Eksell--book-cover--1959--George-Orwell--1984, to persuade people to think or act in a certain way. Everything that I write has a certain political bias, because even a preference for politically secular work is an underlying political opinion. And, it seems that some of my favorite writing is out of anger at chunks of society. I tend to tailor my work to the “masses.” And I mean that in the nicest way possible, I tailor my work to the non-writers, the people who don’t value Orwell’s four great motives, and the people who can’t see out of Joan Didion’s camera lens. It is this goal-oriented writing that has forced blogging to be a beckoning for the golden age of Journalism.

When you accidentally start your E-Portfolio…

This chapter has given insight specifically in the difference between a rough cut and a rough draft. The author stats, “…in a rough draft all the assets should be finely edited and in place so that the project will work without any intervention by the author.” Ah-ha! No I get it. The rough cut didn’t have to work, it didn’t have to make my argument for me, and it didn’t have to be in any sensible form. But, a rough draft has to attempt to accomplish your goal, it has to touch your audience, it has to do the talking for you. This distinction was quite abstract to me until I read this one particular sentence. And not only that, but I began to see how important the feedback loop is in this limbo between rough cut and rough draft. This small liminal phase is actually one giant transitional phase because of all of the revision that needs to be had; only then can you start to fine-tune the rough draft that you’ve created—a rough draft that might be quite “shitty,” in the words of Lamott—and that’s okay.image

This rough cut gave me a little bit of trouble because the medium of my re-mediation doesn’t fit the traditional model for the rough cut as displayed in the book, but I think I was able to pull together my interpretation of a rough-cut as would be fitting through the definition given in the book. I feel like I have this flexibility with the rough-cut because of how flexible Writer/Designer seemed to portray this process.

This chapter also helped me to digest my e-Portfolio. Because, let’s be real, the thought of creating a website seems intimidating to say the least. But after reading the “Drafting & revising Your Project” section, I feel at peace with this task, and quite frankly, I’m excited about it. I’ve already created my page; it’s in an infant stage, but it’s there. I think a lot of time when I’m challenged with a task I’ll put it off for as long as possible. But, this one has become softer, and easier to approach since thinking of it as a process rather than a project. Also, I kind of stepped back and started to appreciate the summative nature of it: this is the way I can showcase myself as a writer, and my work, and my passion. This isn’t busy work imposed on us by evil teachers who want to see us labor over our keyboards, this is life experience that means a collaboration, and an end goal I can be proud of. This e-portfolio will make the fruits of our labor tangible, or as tangible as a website can be.

Here’s a sneak peek of where I’m at:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.54.34 PMThese pictures, through the gallery option, will become the icons for my Poster Series. And I’ll admit, I did skip the rough cut for this section because I got excited about the gallery options, but either way, I know that through the security of the feedback loop, I’ll be able to make adjustments as many times as I need, and as drastically as needed. I guess I accidentally started my E-portfolio…

Research or Reflection?

I’m still torn. Do I want to write a speech: the form I’m most comfortable with, and the form that I think I could execute with the utmost passion? Or do I challenge myself by doing a TEDtalk. I love the idea of being able to access the resources available to us at the MLB, but I also dread the idea of walking all the way there on a bitter cold day. What will I be more proud of? What will be more fulfilling? I won’t really know until I do some more research.

First step: watch TED talks until I fall asleep. Second step: Google speeches on sexual misconduct until my eyes burn. Just kidding! But, I will be doing some extensive research before I start to design my re-mediation. If I do a speech I won’t need to exercise the mock-up and storyboard methods, however, if I do a TEDtalk I will need to do a Storyboard. Which, I imagine will turnout much like a comic, where I draw a stick figure of myself with a screen behind, and certain jokes that will be built into my lecture, jokes that are times perfectly with the presentation I’ll create. This is turning into a tentative pros/cons list, which probably isn’t such a bad thing. Here’s an example of something my storyboard would look like:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 6.52.10 PM

And when I do inevitably decide, on a speech, maybe, whose voice am I using? Mine, Or, the voice of an administrator? I wish I could say that the class gave my substantial input, but I got some mixed reviews. I guess for now I’m hoping for a moment of clarity, or an epiphany before it’s too late.

That might be a lofty thing to ask—for creative inspiration and direction out of thin air. But, I guess that’s what every creative decision stems from, right? Either way, I will be doing a re-mediation project, and whatever I decide I’ll need to have a pretty intense drafting process—taking into account the many different conventions of each genre. A speech is more of a call to action, speaking to the student about the body, and a TEDtalk is still a call to action, but from me to those that I think are in danger or are bystanders, or are victims or perpetrators of sexual misconduct on this campus. I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold up my end of this rhetorical bargain; I might not be ready for that just yet.

But, Lyndsay Anderson had the strength to talk about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXtuy27wirE . Maybe I’ll be able to handle talking about it for 10-15 minutes. Maybe, I won’t be able to.

My Shitty First Draft

My process has been…interesting. I love my topic but I honestly feel like no matter what I choose to do, a couple of words on a poster is not enough. However, I don’t think I could execute a video properly. So, I’m kind of looking for that perfect line, or word, that I can use to  express my thousands of thoughts about the issue. Often times, I feel like my thoughts are best expressed through my essays– I find that putting sentences together, for me, is the most effective way of getting my point across. So, naturally, using another mode seems strange and foreign.

Not only that, but I don’t feel confident in my poster making skills which makes me feel insecure about this project. I don’t feel like I have the time our resources to execute this as perfectly as I’d like to. But, I know many others might feel the same way; many of our class is working with modes like satire which we’re not used to working with. And, I know that this is the nature of the assignment: to explore a mode of communication that might be outside of our comfort zone, but doing the best that we can to make it just as effective as our initial mode of our project.

I could use some help, or encouragement, rather, in staying with this mode. It’s what I have my heart set on, and I just need someone to validate that. It’s almost easier when teachers just gave you a prompt. It was dry, and boring, but I didn’t have to decide. These creative decisions seem to make me so anxious! I think to myself: “Will the class like my project? Will the teacher give me a good grade?” I need to go back to the “Shitty First Drafts” mindset, in which no draft was a bad draft, and everything was simply a product of fresh, untouched ideas.

Also, I’d like to reach out, and ask my classmates how they balance the project with module homework. I’m usually great with time management, but I just feel like I’m being pulled in so man directions right now. I want to give all of my energy to the project, but I also want to have thought-out, and thorough blog posts. I knew this project would be time consuming but I need to find a way to feel like I’m managing both the project and the homework! Maybe we should meet up in groups and do some creative thinking outside of class? Who knows! Just feeling stressed, you know! I think I just need to suck it up and get my act together–I need to chamaxresdefaultnnel I should go watch the Shia LeBouf motivational video. Oh, look at that, another mode to use as research!

Anyway, I’d like to preface the unveiling of my rough draft with the typical “I know this is really bad, but…” I really should stop being so insecure about my work! My rough draft is by no means  where I need it to be, but I need to trust the process. A rough draft isn’t a nick name for a final draft–it’s a completely different entity. So, here’s to my shitty first draft! I’ve got a lot of work ahead of my but it will all be worth it.

My Readers and Me

I never really thought about creating a role for my reader, or building a relationship with them. In a sense, I was subconsciously recognizing this situation but no one had ever brought it to my attention. We always ask questions like “Who is your audience?” or “Who are you trying to reach?” but sometimes in asking these questions we get caught up in looking at the larger demographic rather than thinking about the individual. This piece helped me to visualize an actual person, in my target audience, physically reading my research and reacting to the words. Do they feel a connection to the text? Or rather, do we, the writer and reader, have a connection? By playing these roles I can create a “social contract” that guides us both in carrying out our roles. This agreement: “I’ll do my part if you do yours,” takes information sharing and makes it a human experience rather than a purely academic one. And admittedly, I shamelessly fell in love with this reference to Sociological theory because I’m a passionate Sociology major!

In addition to this social contract, it’s important to entertain the reader with your knowledge. Simply spewing information is not enough. A Presentation is only as compelling as the presenter presents it to the audience and there is no difference here. In particular, I learned from the the Zeppelin Club example. I tend to assume that my reader is already interested in my topic, because I am, but you can’t assume that everyone is an eager member of the Zeppelin club. Instead, offering fresh and interesting information will serve to attract the aloof as well as the eager– it’s better to be safe than sorry (I usually don’t like using cliches in my writing but that one seemed so fitting!) Anyway, using hooks like new information will be a breath of fresh air, and will be evidence of you holding up your end of the social contract.

One thing that I’d like to push back on is the “Organize and Plan” portion of sharing your writing in a group. I think interactive group facilitation is important, and constructive, but I’m not sure that it needs to be so structured. Often times my best feedback is in a more casual and laid back setting where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and having them work as a conversation, rather than specific feedback. When it seems more like a creative group brain-storm, it can be more natural. And, I think the writing process should be more organic, anyway. Dividing and delegating for revision can be useful in very large groups, but for the purposes of this class I think respectful, free-flowing, conversation can be perfectly helpful.

In many ways, casting yourself, and the reader in different roles can help to visualize, and better execute your research. Once you see your argument as your script between writer and reader, the two can be connected by the strength of the representation of the material. Reaching out to the reader by upholding your end of the bargain as an engaging writer can be a challenge–but a vital realization in enhancing your argument.

 

 

#TargetStyle

Multi-modal text can be used to augment the effect of writing, or in some cases replace the use of the written word in its more pure form. This week alone, I’ve come across hundreds of multi-modal media, some that I’m sure I glossed right over. When I did start to take good count, I came across about 10 that used the five modes of communication: linguistic, aural, visual, spatial and gestural. In particular, a Dove ad caught my eye. Not only was it inherently visual (because it was a video), but it had sound (aural), used words (linguistic), was spatially aesthetic (words were well-placed, and gestural, because the women in the film were moving about and gesturing. Here’s the link to the video:

I think you will all find this to be multi-modality in near-perfect form. Each and every mode of communication was effective. I mean, probably because they have the best advertisers in the business, but because their audience was women, and they knew exactly how to pull on the heartstrings. They didn’t need perfectly lyrical sentences, or paragraphs of syntactical grace. All they needed was the perfect synthesis of the senses—a synthesis that provoked thought and emotion.

The other texts that I found were, too, advertisements. And not to my surprise, they were effective. In particular, I find Target’s instagram (@targetstyle) to be particularly spatially pleasing. Though they typically avoid aural stimulation, they tend to be heavy on the spatial/visual, which is perfect for their argument: target is a competitive decorating/design force. Their images are usually set something like this:

target

However, their commercials that use all five forms of communication do reach a wider audience, and I’m sure account for the majority of their shoppers. So while I applauded their visual/spatial multi-modality, videos are just an unmatched form of evocation.

The use of the various modes contributes to how different they are– one may be heavier on one mode than another. For instance, the dog video was more aural than spatial. But, it’s important to keep in mind that each mode can be just as effective when executed correctly: a picture can, sometimes, mean more than a song, and vice versa.