Blog Post 1: Stream of Consciousness

In Didion’s “Why I Write” many different techniques stuck out to me. The first would be the structure. It seemed sporadic and as though the multitude of images were just running through the reader’s brain at a lightning pace. For example, she explains, “When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges” and from there rambles into many different ideas, “a cat drawn by a patient in varying stages of schizophrenia” to comparing grammar to playing the piano (“Grammar is a piano I play by ear…”). It was interesting to hear her bring up schizophrenia because at that point of the essay, I was wondering if she did indeed suffer from mental illness.

 

Her style of writing this article was carefree and had very little connectivity between concepts. What I enjoyed about this is that she seemed to be employing stream of consciousness, which is a way I really enjoy writing, especially for first drafts. I tend to just write everything I can think of, all at once then edit out the parts that don’t make sense later. It’s kind of comparable to word vomit, just type everything that comes to mind and don’t overanalyze your words then later deal with the mess. To me, it seemed like she left the mess, which both annoyed me and was also intriguing. I truly think the essay made complete sense to the author and even though there were points where I was completely lost on what she was trying to say, it had an air of authenticity to the author’s personality. That alone brings up two concepts I do when I write: one, I always have someone read my draft before I finalize it so it is not something only I can understand and relate to, and two, I make a conscious effort to make my personality stand out in any kind of writing whether it be academic or creative.

My favorite quote in her essay was her final line. The essay was hectic and cluttered  and somehow the final line contradicts the previous structure of chaos to neatly validating her central point. She states,”Let me tell you one thing about why writers write: had I known the answer to any of these questions I would have never needed to write a novel” and this is key to any author. I think the wondering and what ifs are what drive most writers to write including myself. If I have an idea for an essay and questions running through my mind, I am motivated to write until the questions have answers.

Blog Post 1: Didion/Orwell/Sullivan Readings

In a strange way, I believe that it’s reassuring to hear the struggles of professional writers. Not that I’m encouraging any writer to fail–that would neither be kind of me nor good karma for my own writing career–but I enjoy hearing and reflecting on their hardships. Now, while that may seem to be a strange fascination, I believe that hearing their journey resonates with my own writing.

Throughout George Orwell, Joan Didion, and Andrew Sullivan’s pieces on why they write/blog, they all documented specific hardships that truly made me think of myself as a writer and overall, my experiences through writing. There was no one piece where I didn’t feel some kind of connection, making me wonder if all writers are more alike than I thought. We all try to believe that we’re especially unique and creative in the ways we write and think, which I’m sure in many ways we are, yet the similarities between writers is no coincidence.

Starting with Orwell’s piece, I could agree with him within his first few sentences when he writes the following: “From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.” Although book writing was never quite for me, I too knew from an early age that I was destine to write. In fact, my love for writing prospered in my 2nd grade creative writing unit. Yet, as I grew older and the technological age emerged, I was surrounded by negative feedback in relation to a career in journalism or writing in general. People claim it’s a dying field, that no one can find a job in the industry, and the list goes on. And so, for awhile, I tried to abandon this love and search for another passion. But I failed in my attempt, and like Orwell, have accepted that writing is what I will do.

Didion’s writing was comforting to me in her modesty. For such an amazing writer, she claims she doesn’t know how to think. I laughed when I read that, as she is such an inspiration to many young writers. But Didion’s concerns are ones that I have been faced with myself in a different capacity. The way I write is conversational, it has always simply been like that. My favorite kind of writing is informal, as if I’m speaking to a friend across the computer screen. Yet many times, I worry that my writing does not sound intellectual enough–that I am not thinking in the ways that a professional writer should. Of course, we all have our own writing styles; writing would be so monotone without differing styles. But, I still concern myself with the idea of not thinking like a professional writer, although I have yet to find one specific mold of such.

Sullivan’s piece was one that strongly resonated with me I believe, since most of my writing is done in blog form. Through reading his article, I became aware of aspects of my own writing that I wasn’t necessarily conscious of before. Although I agreed with the majority of what he wrote, one specific part stood out to me: the vulnerableness of blog posts. Blogging is immediate, emotional, and not very private. Blogging after a rage of emotions, laying everything out on the table and then posting it to the public is absolutely terrifying–but completely rewarding at the same time. As Sullivan talked about in his piece, with companies, a writer has the backing of the entire publication and “harassment” or critique isn’t necessarily only on the writer themselves, but that’s not the case with blogging. When a post is published, comments and responses flow in almost immediately, with only your name and reputation attached. What if individuals don’t like it? What if people think it’s absolutely terrible? What if everyone views you as a terrible writer? All possibilities, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about it.

And so, it is definitely comforting to hear these professional writers struggle in many of the same ways that I have, and currently am, within my own writing. Hopefully that means I am on the right track.

Response to “Why I…” Pieces

Writing is a relatively new passion of mine – only about a year old – so it was difficult for me to relate to Orwell’s progression as writer. Where Orwell knew from the age of five or six that he was destined to become a writer, I was determined from a similar age to make sure that my destiny was anything other than a writer. I always saw the discipline as fuzzy and insubstantial, and didn’t understand the beauty that can come from putting words on a page.

Once I started to gain an affinity for writing, my mindset was similar to Didion’s, although I had no idea who she was at the time. My primary interest in writing has been somewhat vain in the fact that I love to write about myself, but it is about more than self-promotion. Similar to how Didion says she “writes entirely to find out what I’m thinking”, I often write for the purpose of self-understanding and clarity. Taking things one step further, I find it very cathartic to synthesize mistakes that I may have made in the past.

Orwell stated that good writing should have political purpose, and for the most part, I agree with his statement. For that reason, blogging is something that I don’t feel 100% comfortable doing. My political ideals are constantly evolving and developing, and it is scary to think that after clicking “Publish”, a specific thought of mine is frozen in time for anyone with internet access to see. For instance, Sullivan talks about how he was blogging about 9/11 in real time, an activity that if I was intellectually mature enough at the time, I would have never done. My thoughts in one specific moment can radically change a few days later, and I would never want to put close-minded or potentially erroneous opinions out on the Internet for the world to see. Sullivan describes this feeling as if it’s a good thing, but I find it to be the polar opposite. All that being said, I kept a travel blog a few summers ago and enjoyed it tremendously, but to combine the freewheeling nature of blogging and Orwell’s ideology of writing for political purpose is a daunting premise.

When submitting written pieces in class for example, I am generally very confident in my work. I have strived to create a valuable product and I know exactly who is going to read it. That feeling provides me with comfort. Creating a blog though is tremendously different. Even with a seemingly docile entry like this one, I am very hesitant when clicking the “Publish” button.

 

Writing about my Life

A professor of mine once told me that if you don’t enjoy writing about your life, then your life isn’t interesting enough. It was an intimidatingly bold statement, but I greatly resonated with the statement. Thankfully, I find my life interesting and as a result, love to write about my meanderings through the world. This affinity for creative non-fiction transfers to my interests in literature as well. Two of my favorite works are Kerouac’s On the Road and Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I try to keep the mastery these writers display in mind when writing pieces of my own.

Introduction and what kind of writing I like to read

Hi everyone,

I think a question as broad as who are you is one difficult to answer. I believe people are always changing everyday. I will tell you a little bit about myself. I am currently a sophomore majoring in Spanish and Psychology. I am a peer advisor in the Michigan Research Community. I love to be active and never sit still. I’m usually running, water skiing, wake boarding, rock climbing, or hiking any minute I have of free time. This time of the year is not only my favorite season, but is the best for downhill skiing.

I also love to travel. I’ve been on a mission trip to Dominican Republic, an absolutely life changing experience. I am leaving in 3 days to ski in Canada and hope to study abroad in Spain for the summer.

I like to read a wide variety of writing. I’ve recently discovered that I love to read cross-genres. I read a novel written in poems and absolutely loved the idea. I love to read nonfiction, fiction, and anything in-between. Some of my favorite authors include Malcolm Gladwell, Mitch Albom, and John Green.

I hope to improve my writing ability in this class and look forward to getting to know all of you.

~Allie

 

 

Drawing Inspiration from Fiction

My name is Katie Lehman.  I could use this space to tell you about myself, to basically state my resume in paragraph form so you all know my areas of study and extra-curricular activities.  But I think that would be a waste of both your time and mine.  Instead, I want to get right to the reason we’re here: writing.

I believe that, in order for someone to truly be a fantastic writer, they must also be a reader.  Not only does reading help to keep your mind fresh, but it also allows you to learn new tactics for writing and to gain new ideas.  After finishing a great book or an exceptional article or any other amazing piece of writing, I find myself inspired to write myself, usually focusing on what made the writing I just finished so remarkable.

When I get the chance to read for myself and not for class (which is happening less and less these days) I usually enjoy reading fiction books.  I often choose books based on recommendations.  Many of my friends will let me know when they read a book that they really enjoyed and, when I’m looking for reading material with no ideas, I often turn to the internet and find out which books have people talking.  The books that really draw me in are the ones that create connections between me and the characters.  In my opinion, the mark of a truly incredible book is if I feel happy or sad when something good or bad happens to a character in the story.  If a book makes me cry or actually laugh out loud, I think it has done its job.

The translation of reader connection into fiction writing is obvious- create relatable characters that the reader can connect with emotionally.  I think finding this connection with readers should also be a goal of academic writing.  While the connection obviously cannot be made in the same way, since there are not usually characters in academic writing, the same principle of attracting the reader in by actually making that person care about what the writing says can still be applied, and that is my goal when I write.  While there is a great deal that can be drawn from various forms of writing, I believe that finding a way to make readers care very deeply about what a piece of writing says is one of the major lessons that reading can teach a writer.

What I read (First post)

I apologize for my incredibly lame and unexciting title, this blogging thing is completely new territory for me. It is pretty cool that there is a blog for the minor, because odds are I would have never actually forced myself to start blogging. There is a good chance that the regular blogging from the minor will get me into a routine that makes me an active blogger. Anyway, my name is Clinton Rooker and I’m a sophomore from Davison, MI. I played rugby, football, and wrestled in high school and was briefly a cheerleader here at Michigan. I’m a political science major and would like to eventually pursue a law degree, but first I have to get through these four years.

Until recently, I really had a difficult time motivating myself to read independently. I always bounced around genres and typically read nonfiction. I enjoyed very dry and analytical books, but eventually I found myself extremely bored with this type of reading. It wasn’t until last year that I found a love for short stories, largely due to my awesome professor in my first year writing course. I discovered that short stories are very fitting for my personality. They are concise and complete, yet carry complex themes and humor. I liked that I didn’t have to read hundreds of pages, which seemed like more of a chore than a leisure. I don’t know if I’m a lazy reader, unmotivated reader, or simply lack the time/attention span to read novels, but I’m happy I finally found a creative genre that fit with me. When I read, I pay close attention to the use of dialogue. I sometimes struggle at writing dialogue with an authentic/organic sound. I think this is a struggle a lot of people encounter, and it helps to read both effective and ineffective dialogue to find out what works.

Stories of the Ordinary

I’ve never stopped to consider what or why I love to read; I just read. I’m addicted to buying books, and this is considered a huge problem when I reflect on the fact that I have no space for all of them. There is simply no where to put another bookshelf. My two key interests are novels and history and I have just now discovered that what ties the two together is the stories of people. History is not just composed of great names and places; at its core is the ordinary citizen. In the same way, society does not revolve around the model citizen, but also around the outsiders and the rule breakers. Stories lie with the daring and the daring are often portrayed as the ordinary. The material that I read warps this fact by illuminating the reasoning of the “outsider,” the repressed and the insignificant citizen who’s ready for a change. Without flaws, the ordinary would not become a story. That’s what I hope to accomplish in my own writing; I want to take the ordinary and twist it into a story. I want to tell the story of people.

Well, Hello Gorgeous

Hello There,

First, eye need you to know that eye look forward to working and growing with all of you Gateway homo sapiens.

My name is Christina Alexander, and this Sunday, January 18th, eye will be 20 years young. Eye am a proud Detroit native, a dancer of ten years, an eternal learner, sometimes a teacher, a queen, at times a calming sea, and a rambunctious storm at others.

Who am Eye?

What an odd question, and answering it is always an agonizing venture for me. Eye really don’t like the question because it leaves little for you to wonder and discover about me, and possibly even yourself,  and eye also am never really certain that eye know the answer myself. Eye like to believe that eye am a flower, or a butterfly, and like you, a living organism continuously growing, rapidly reproducing knowledge, and undergoing changes within due to surrounding environmental changes. If nothing else is true, eye know for sure that eye am fluid.

Eye like to read. To me, being able to read guarantees knowledge–the ability to know–and this is something that eye own and do not plan on giving away. Knowledge is power.

When it comes to what eye like to read, there is not one particular source or genre that eye prefer. Instead, it is the content that eye am interested in. Eye like to read things that advance my knowledge, things that tell me something new about the world, about myself, and/or about people. This is usually fulfilled by children books, rap, soul, and neo soul lyrics, and unorthodox authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and Sigmund Freud. Odd bunch, right? Eye am fully aware. Like myself, my reading collection is also very fluid; however, in all of these places, two things are common: eye am left in awe by the content and eye leave with at least one quote.

 

 

 

 

The Joys of Reading Recreationally

It was an honestly sad moment. All it took were a couple of words.

“Do you want to go to the library?”

Instantly, there were tears in my eyes. Coming home for Christmas Break allowed for various things to happen. I finally had time to spend with family and friends, plenty of food to eat, and most importantly opportunity to be pegged with the never-ending questions about my future and my perpetual single-ness. But something such as reading recreationally hadn’t even been an option, not with the endless lifeguarding shifts and the dry textbook readings assigned on a daily from my history professor.

Over break, I plunged myself into the task of reading as much as a could, recreationally, before I would be launched back into the reality of LS&A and all of the reading its humanities courses’ require. I dedicated all of my time to Jodi Picoult, J.K. Rowling, Sarah Dessen, and Chuck Klosterman. I laughed and cried and rewatched all of the Harry Potter movies. It was a grand old time.

While I enjoy to read many things, I always find myself deep in Sarah Dessen’s unchanging plots of unreachable girl meets unreachable boy…then they reach each other? I don’t know. I’m a sucker for all of that romance giggity.

As I said in class, I love the one-liners. Getting to the bottom of a page and going back just to get the same feeling you did when you read that sentence. Goosebumps, tears, whatever. Anything that can really elicit emotions is pretty fantastic. Chuck Klosterman has a great line in his book Eating the Dinosaur: “Time doesn’t wait for your participation in life.” Is that so great or what? Time doesn’t stop, or much less care, because you aren’t fulfilling your destiny or making the most out of the opportunities granted to you! Ugh, I get so hyped when I read that…then slowly slip back into my coma of Netflix.

I often find myself scrounging around WordPress, looking for other blogs to read. I write my own blog, but it always feels quite strange to read my own writing…especially because it was meant for someone else to enjoy.

Anyways, I love to read. I love to read what I want, when I can.

Christmas break is a magical time, but now I’m off to read something about Evolutionary Anthropology.