Hopwood Hysteria

Though it has been a month since I turned in my Hopwood submission, the fateful night still haunts me.

 

The fishbowl is normally crowded from the hours of 11pm and 1am. This is nothing new or out of the ordinary. If I were to make a sweeping generalization, I would say that most college students are at the peak of their productivity during these hours. So I dutifully worked in front of the obnoxiously large, yet entirely luxurious mac monitors. I printed my rough draft, all 25 pages. This is making a dent in my allotted printing pages for the semester. I sit down, and begin marking up the hard copy. Scribbling and crossing out entire paragraphs of what is supposed to be creative non-fiction. Midnight comes and goes and I stay strong. Done with the first edit. Now as I look through the pages, I realize that I must apply the changes. Interpreting my scratch marks and meticulously going through the word document. Looking down at the paper, then back up at the monitor and so on and so forth. I have since determined that while writing a shitty first draft is painful. Revising and applying the marks, is infinitely more painful. I constantly lose my place, delete the wrong sentence and move the paragraph into the wrong section. Each mistake more infuriating than the last. I prevail. First draft is revised and I am looking at the 27 inch screen with my revised work. I know that I am not done and I must go through this cycle once more. 2:28 am. When did that happen.

 

I print the manuscript a second time. 28 pages. This is getting rough. The students around me have thinned. Those that remain have slides of DNA helices displayed on their computer screens, but their heads are resting on their arms that are resting on the keyboards. They should just pack it in. No one will ever retain DNA sequencing after 1 am. I continue with the revising. I have burned through one green inked pen. I pull out my pink pen. Perhaps the color will give me hope, I am optimistic. Perhaps I am delusional. I continue with the revising. My work is decidedly slower. Sleep continues to close my eyelids and rock my head backwards. I must continue on with the editing. 6:47 am. I am done with the 2nd revision. Spellcheck time. It’s now 7:18.  There were many errors.  The Hopwood awards require that you print three copies of your manuscript. I check my margins and spacing and spelling 4 more times. 7:55. I print three copies of my thirty-three page manuscript. Ninety-nine pages. I receive an e-mail alerting me that I have used over half of my allotted printing pages. I send it to the trash. Walking over to the printers I see an older woman with heaps of papers and one of those coffee mugs that you can put pictures inside. There are images of babies in cribs and small children on tricycles. The mug is empty, she too has been here all night. I ask her what she is doing here. “Hopwoods,” she says. Her hands pushing at the sides of the stack of paper. “I thought that I would be able to submit some poetry, but I probably should have started before 1am.” I look at her stacks of paper. Three separate stacks of paper equivalent to mine. “You started tonight?” I ask her. “I had been brooding over this, but more or less. Yeah.” She responds. I stood there for a moment and then she sent a three whole punch through the stack of papers with a resounding thud. I gather my papers and muster a “good luck” to her in passing. She doesn’t look up as she responds “You too.” I hear the thud of the three hole punch as I sit back down in front of the computer.

 

I make my way to the Hopwood Room in Angell Hall. I turn in the manuscript, walk outside, stumble into my apartment, and sleep a deep sleep. I dream of paper cuts and rowdy commas.

Figuring out who I am as a writer

I went to “State of the Book” at Rackham hall earlier this month. David Eggers from 826 the writing and tutoring center for young adults and adults was there presenting. I happened to sit in on him present a group of high school students that had published a book. They came together on their own every week, selected works of their peers, compile these works, and then publish them. I was astounded by the privileges for the Ann Arbor youth. Never was I given an opportunity like these kids, I once read at an open mic at a Panera in high school but that was the closest that I’ve ever come to extracurricular writing/reading. The experience made me very envious of the kids, but at the same time, knowing that I was in the minor for writing made me feel much more… cultured, no, integrated might describe what I’m feeling. The minor in writing opens a lot of doors to events like the “State of the Book” and “How I Write.” Which, speaking of How I Write, I have never been so excited for a presenting author. As a science/writing student, Thomas Hager holds a dream job of mine. I cannot wait to pick his brain!

 

Also, in honor of the late David Rackoff, I would like to include this cheerful clip that describes just how much writing sucks.

Why He Writes

 

-Sal

Writing for a Teacher

My friend asked me what it feels like to be a week away from completing half of my college career. I promptly told him to stop speaking to me. I know that there are a few juniors(soon to be seniors) that are probably rolling their eyes reading this… but I bet you were thinking the same thing at the end of your sophomore year. It is crazy to think about how fast college is flying by, and so I think this post about reflection is somewhat appropriate.

This past year I was a member of Ann Arbor Languages Program. I went into three different 3rd grade classrooms and taught Spanish for 30 mins every Tuesday and Thursday. The program was demanding, stressful, sleep depriving, and infuriatingly time consuming.It left me exhausted.

How I felt after teaching
How I felt after teaching

Yet I would do it all again. I am certain now that I would never want to be an elementary school teacher, and if nothing else, I gained that from the whole experience.

I know this post is supposed to be reflecting on writing, and in a way, this experience for me was all about writing. I had to write up a lesson for every day that I taught. 44 different lesson scripts. Each one different from the next. These scripts were not just bullets listing the events. I had to dig deep and describe what I was going to do and why it was important that I do so. Here is an excerpt from one such lesson:

Ropa/Color Worksheets 10 min – end

-These worksheets are going to be done in groups – I have chosen to use six characters because every class has six different table groups and so every group will be able to work on a different person—-i will have my own person that I will model before I pass out the worksheet emphasizing again that there needs to be ropa y color so when I am demonstrating I say zapatos NEGROS———making sure to stress the color part of the answer——–then I will pass out the papers, since there will only be six it would take more time to call up a volunteer————-keep repeating “en groupos – en groupos” – so they know to work in groups ——there will be a slide now with all the colors and all the names of the clothing types, because the students usually know the word they want but they get frustrated when they cant spell it——–also when I am walking around I can help the students out by pointing at the slides——  -when I see that they re done I will call up the students by groups and ask them to share ———this may be a little hard for some of the shy students so I will allow one person to speak for the group, because I realize that not everyone is comfortable speaking up front———-the point is to have the group be involved and so its four kids sharing instead of one raising their hand

 

And that is just one ten minute segment of a lesson. Sure, this was one of my more in-depth scripts, but I think I get my point across. I learned a lot about how to think for other people’s needs. This can directly relate to my writing. I need to be aware of my audience and address their needs. Not to mention that I was doing a good deal of writing almost every night. The content is not exactly riveting or inspirational to read, but I can honestly say that I was writing. This is something that I am guilty of not always doing. Just sitting down and writing was very revealing after awhile. I did eventually expand to more than just “the colors.” I was able to write some stories not pertaining to the classroom and I just carried on with what had already been set in motion. So while there may have been a lot of pieces I was assigned to complete, the constant time spent in front of a keyboard actually became very beneficial for me.

Portfoliopalooza

I am a student in the Ann Arbor Languages Program and basically, I go to an Ann Arbor school every Tuesday and Thursday and I teach 3rd graders Spanish. I conduct the lessons entirely in Spanish going for an “immersion” effect. It has been one of the most: difficult, insightful, frustrating, rewarding, backbreaking, and ultimately-worth-it classes that I have ever taken. I teach 60 + kids for 1 and 30 min, twice a week, entirely in Spanish. Putting it in print takes all the life out of it, but trust me when I say that it is a lot of work. However, when the kids start to be able to tell me all the colors, numbers, months, and what the weather is outside, I can’t help but swell with a little bit of pride. I taught them everything they know, controlled a third grade class (7 and 8 year olds) and I did it entirely in Spanish. I can’t help but feel like I can do anything. Although, there were times when everything, and I mean everything, went wrong. There is nothing quite as humiliating as a 7 year old native spanish speaker announcing to the class that their “teacher” isn’t saying the word the right way. Words cannot describe the shame I felt. Of course, now I have a great story out of it.

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxvmk0vf1M1qivj9w.gif
How I felt most of the time I left that classroom

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Howlin’ for Audio Essays

So two things are going on right now: The audio essay re-mediating project and the movie Howl.

I am an avid listener of NPR, so I know what an audio essay is supposed to sound like along with the various forms of information that can be delivered through the audio medium i.e. news, humor, personal stories, and live audio. Since being assigned the re-purposing essay I have been listening to a lot more of NPR, I am beginning to try and internalize the style of the audio essay. What is interesting to me, is how accurate the readings are about writing and producing essays (I should hope so, they were written by NPR after all). Certain sentences about “writing like you speak” are starting to make sense and all the cues about background noise giving the listener perspective and context are all things that I am starting to think about and wondering, “hmm, how would I incorporate something like that into my essay?”

The second thing that I have been thinking about is the movie Howl. The movie is all about Allen Ginsberg and his inspiration and influence for writing the extremely controversial book “Howl and other poems” The movie (if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you do) is an extremely interesting movie. It’s offbeat, has some animation incorporated and has the poem read aloud throughout the movie. In a sense, it is the most entertaining and best produced analysis of a poem that I have ever seen. After watching the movie, all I wanted to do was sit down and write a poem. I don’t even like enjoy poetry, but this movie made me believe that I do. The movie is a thrill and I highly suggest it. The best line of the movie in my opinion came during an interview portion with Allen Ginsberg (played by James Franco) and the question dealt with “how he writes” and this was his response:

“The act of writing becomes like a meditation exercise. If you walk down the street, in New York, for a few blocks you get this gargantuan feeling of buildings and if you walk all day you’ll be on the verge of tears. But you have to walk all day to get that sensation. What I mean is, if you write all day you’ll get into it, into your body, into your feelings, into your consciousness…..I don’t write enough in that way.”

That line really stuck with me and I think is a great quote for this course in general and the clip is below.

 

Howl Clip

Where science and art meet back on the other side

Guilty.

I am a little late with this post. I blame Spring Break for my tardiness, I still haven’t hit that rhythm with my studies since coming back. But enough of the excuses, I only remembered that I even had a forum post because I was sitting in a lecture about writing last night, when it just clicked in my mind. So here is why it clicked. I was at a lecture for my lab and we had a guest speaker come in to talk all about creating and writing a scientific paper. He started off his lecture by saying “Writing a scientific paper is a lot different than writing a normal essay for your classes.” He continued with his talk and the more things he said, the more I realized that (and I say this with great fear because this man is a genius and I respect him immensely) he was wrong. The content and structure of a scientific essay is completely different than any essay I’ve written. But the act and process of writing a scientific paper is almost identical to any other paper I’ve written.

The speaker went on to discuss how painstakingly difficult writing a paper can be, that even after you slave away at it, the first couple of copies you submit for editing will be torn apart and the paper really becomes a part of the author. The things he was describing were basically parallel to every other paper I have ever written (like I said). Even beyond writing the paper, he talked about how when you begin to edit papers, you start to recognized certain traits and characteristics of good papers vs bad papers and you even develop your own style, as much as the format will allow you to. One major example example was when he was talking about this sentence he was talking about how you use information from your topic and then at the end of the paragraph you state your purpose, at which point I want to blurt out, “so in other words, a thesis!”

There were many other corresponding components, they are minor so I wont list them, but they were still all very significant. Thats whats on the mind about writing. Until next post, enjoy some minions

Minions! Do my writing.
Minions!

The word bed actually looks like a bed. Have a great day.

You’re welcome for that beautiful gem. My friend pointed that out to me and it made me happy and I hope it does the same for you. There’s a whole lot of everything on my mind right now. There is writing to be written, Jesus was on the Diag handing out ashes, Community is coming back on the air, and oh yeah, three days until spring break. Although I have much of it to do, writing is on my mind, but just barely clinging there. What I am really excited for is happening tonight. The one and only Shelley Manis will be the guest speaker for the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program that I am in. I can’t wait to hear all that she has to say about writing and such… but seriously I am looking forward to her speaking. After all, it’s not everyday that your professor is also the guest speaker at a 400+ member event.

After class this morning, my mind is still very much focused on this re-purposing essay. I think that putting the paper in front of yourself with an audience and having them read the paper in your presence really makes you feel vulnerable as a writer and at least for this paper, has really made me realize how much more I want to do and really do bigger and better things with it.

With the arrival of spring break has come the arrival of midterms and papers and so therefore I am having a hard time producing sentences correctly because my brain just seems to really have the dumb and quite frankly refuses to work. So this is a rather short blog post, but I will leave you with a great Simpson’s attitude  towards writing and school related shenanigans. And again, I can’t wait to see Shelley speak tonight!

 

Until Friday at 11:59 pm I Will Feel This Way
Until Friday at 11:59 pm I Will Feel This Way

Yesterday’s Lazy saves Today’s Crazy

So last winter semester as summer was approaching I realized that I had a few books to sell. I thought about going to sell them, but then I decided to go play in the sunshine. Then summer happened and I forgot about their existence.Then this fall, I was unpacking my stuff in my new room and I found the books. I figured I should probably sell them, but it was a nice day out, so I decided to go play in the sunshine.

Fast forward to today. Trying to repurpose my essay. No idea how. On the struggle bus heading to IDGAF avenue when I realized that one of my books from last year talked all about creative non fiction. What am I trying to repurpose my essay into…? Why creative non-fiction of course! Less than five minutes later I have the book out with several examples of what I am trying to accomplish with a detailed introduction on how to accomplish my goal.

Could I have made probably $50 off this book? Meh. Maybe. But right now I am too happy with my prior decisions to play in the sunshine to even care.

Sometimes Things Just Work Out Better Than You Could Have Ever Predicted
I'm just so happy.

Well, that was quite nice

First off, I loved Monday Night. I think what I loved so much about it was how completely different the two writers were (absolutely awful with names so I will shamefully refer to the two writers as “man” and “woman”). The man was very creative and had his hand in about every type of creative writing, while the woman was quite the opposite: stuck in on one piece of non-fiction. They were also different in their personalities which spoke to their writing styles as well. The woman was so upbeat and intense (in a good way) and I think her personality is what is allowing her to push through her dissertation and be able to talk with us with such joy and enthusiasm. The man was much more laid back and when he answered questions he would take them in and answer in a very detailed but open ended manner. So to me that just goes to show how, as a writer your personality is really shown through how and what you write.

I was agreeing with just about everything that was said
I was agreeing with just about everything that was being said

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“It’s a broadcast, not a publication”

My title is a quote from the article and I feel it is relevant because I think it sums up a lot of the different facets of blogging. A broadcast is something that I associate with being in the now and constantly happening whereas a publication is something that can take up to months to develop. Now that we have begun blogging a little more I am seeing of just how little a publication it is and how correctly the term “broadcasting my thoughts” seems to fit. I also began to realize while reading Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” that I am part of a blog (besides this one) and I didn’t realize it. The blog is this terribly wonderful thing called Reddit or “the front page of the internet.” Reddit is interesting in the sense that it is not just one persons blog, but rather the internet’s blog. Anyone can post on the site and anyone can comment on the posts. There are many different categories and topics to post under as well. The posts are fairly relevant to current events and actual discussions have been found on the site. The site posts mainly images of cute cats and hilarious video game references, but what I think makes it so similar to a blog is the ever changing and constant updating of the posts of all different topics.

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