Make-One-Get-Three

Though I’ve been crafting several novels in my head for years and years, I’ve rarely worked to create something novel-related other than the stories themselves. That’s why, when T first introduced these “experiments” we would be making, one of my first thoughts was to use one of my novels as my origin document. Eventually, I decided I was going to use a novel for middle-grade readers (titled “It’s Pronounced ‘Pegasus’”) that I had started writing very late last year/early this year. 

Once I had the origin piece set, my experiment genres were soon to follow. I decided that my first experiment would be a sound essay capturing a “morning-in-the-life” of my protagonist – a medium I had never heard of before but was willing to try. My second experiment would be a book trailer (something I had always dreamed of making, anyway), and my third experiment would be a book website/author website.

The top of the landing page I’ve started making for my website

While each experiment was enjoyable to make and left me wanting to create more and more of it, I had to pick only one for my final, realized experiment (FRE), and that pained me. Luckily, I found a bit of a loophole. As such, for my FRE, I will be combining all three of my experiments into one by finishing my website (experiment 3), which will include the sound essay and book trailer as “Extras” on one of the clickable tabs.

Though I portray this little bit of ingenuity as a sudden revelation, it was actually my plan from the beginning. I always wanted to create the best website possible, and I thought that would mean including the other two realized experiments, too – which would require that each of them be finished in order for the website to be fully realized. But my plans changed slightly toward the middle of this journey.

Once I realized how time-consuming these experiments were – and how I was drawn to finish the other two experiments, anyway – I decided that I would make my book trailer my final experiment. I had gone above-and-beyond with the Sample, basically finishing it instead of just giving it a taste, and so the only still-needed piece to call the book trailer fully “complete” was an image of the book cover – which I would need to spend some time designing. In the course of making the Sample of my website, however, I also needed to make an image of the cover for the landing page (“Home” page), and so adding the already-made book cover to my book trailer was an easy few clicks from there, and my Experiment 2 was complete.

The book cover I designed for “It’s Pronounced ‘Pegasus'”

As such, I feel like I have no choice but to fully realize my Experiment 3, as it is the only one that still feels a bit “incomplete,” and – as my initial ideas indicated – the trajectory of my experiment journey seems to have been building toward a fully-realized website from the start.

One of my chief concerns is always time, but I think I’ve put in enough effort already to make it work. I’m also a bit worried about the logistics of it all, but I know I have resources in T and in my classmates, should I need them in the next few weeks. Other than that, I don’t think I have many concerns about this project. Now that I’ve accepted my fate, this feels completely doable.

My next steps will simply be to finish what I’ve started. This will mean tweaking the “Home” page, adding author bios (one short, one long) to the “About” page, finishing out what I’ve started on the “Book” page, and creating an “Author Q&A” for the “Extras” page. Even though this might sound like a lot of work on paper/screen, I think it will be manageable over the next two weeks. But, even so, wish me luck!

Eureka! I’ve created it!

In modern times, pursuing writing and pursuing science are looked at as two ends of a very long spectrum, but I would argue that writers and scientists – at their most basic level – are pursuing the same things.

Now, you might be furrowing your brow, but what is writing if not discovery? What is science if not communication of meaning? Do not both fields act as a lens through which we come to understand the world?

And the realization of this connection was why I found the title of “experiments” so fascinating. Almost literally, we would be combining various elements (thoughts, mediums, individual words and letters) to create brand new products – something we might not have been able to fully envision when we first set out to invent.

For my part, I’ve been enjoying the journey. It’s been exciting to try new things and see what results, but I wish I had more time. Researching has been taxing, and, though I am pleased with how my experiments are turning out, many nights the hurried deadlines feel like they’re sucking away my creative spirit.

My first experiment was a perfect example of this. At the suggestion of my professor, my first experiment was to make a sound essay – something I had never heard of before. Apparently, neither had most other people in the world. (FYI, a sound essay is like an audio essay, but it tells the story entirely through sounds instead of words.) Very little research existed on this genre, and this made figuring out where to start the first major hurdle. Once I had an idea of what to do, though, the actual creating part was a blast! I found myself working extremely late into the night and not realizing this fact until the experiment was done and I looked at the clock. (Time truly flies when you’re crafting a story!)

A screenshot of my monitor while creating Morning Blues (my sound essay) in iMovie

My second experiment was making a book trailer. The research for this genre was much easier and far more exciting. I came into the experiment with a lot more excitement about the genre than with the first experiment, and that made this labor of love a little less laborious than I was expecting. In the end, I wasn’t thrilled with the constraints of the creative platform I chose to use, but I was very happy with how the final product turned out.

A screenshot of one of the first frames of my animated book trailer, made using Powtoon

For my third experiment, I’m planning on making a website. My origin material is a novel for middle-school-aged-readers that I’ve been writing, so I’m hoping to make the website into the book’s actual website. On the website will be both of my first two experiments, as well as fun extras like interviews with the author, pictures of the cover, character bios, etc. While I haven’t started yet, I’m hoping it will be great!

My experience of the experiments so far has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but I’ve been thankful for the push to play with writing in a way I don’t typically have reason to do. Like with science, I think writing is something that should be probed and tested, so I’m glad that these experiments have invited me to try things that are outside of my current wheelhouse, and I look forward to the challenge of continuing to explore.

Not Knowing What’s Next

The experiments are odd projects. They are utterly open-ended and can feel, at first, like you’re being thrown into a void. But when you hit your stride, find your perfect genre or angle or sample, you finally see where it could go. Although I’ll tell you a secret, I often have no idea what I’m doing until I get to the end.

Working on my first experiment felt like a break from doing homework. I chose to do a video vignette with hand-drawn animation based on a song from my notebook. I was learning a new genre, new software, and being visually creative – which is something I don’t do often enough. I was 80% out of my comfort zone, but I was forming a new one.

My second experiment wasn’t quite the same satisfaction but was still a great outlet for exploration in creative writing, a genre I am even less familiar with. I wrote a short story expanding on the lyrics of one of the songs in my book. In the beginning, I thought having a strong outline of the story from my song would make writing easier. In the end, however, I found the outline restricted my freedom. I was able to add a lot of detail to characters and settings, but the direction was already laid out for me, and I didn’t want to majorly change the plot. Although I would say the experiment was a success, I think I will try creative writing in a more open context next time.

I’m excited to see where the third experiment will take me. I want to keep the creative energy of the first project, but incorporate more writing like the second. I’m thinking about a pamphlet on how journaling/songwriting can be used as a coping mechanism for teens. Or maybe a website or even a bookmark with information on it. This use of journaling is largely why I wrote so many songs throughout high school. They helped me sort through emotions and situations that I didn’t want to talk to anyone about. Instead, I could vent or create characters and stories that said what I could not. I think sharing this as an option for people who are going through a rough time could help them, as it helped me.

Experimenting Got Me Like…

I did it. I’m currently doing it. I’m making things happen.

Source: Giphy

I never thought it was possible, honestly. Past students had such cool projects, and I didn’t think I had an artistic bone in my body that allowed me to go beyond the words and produce something new. Words were my comfort blanket, I didn’t want to expand. I didn’t want to experiment. Yet, here I am, making it happen.

Source: Giphy

As this semester comes to a close and this course comes to an end, I’m realizing that I should step outside my comfort zone more often. Heck, for my third experiment I literally drew out a plan to write a novel. Now I feel like I should just see it through…maybe one day I will! Especially, since I now even have an idea of what it could be about and who it could be for.

However, for the final project, I’m glad I decided to follow through with my zine experiment. It’s tough enough to make it a quality piece, but it’s doable. And I’m excited to see the finished product. I’m planning on asking other zinesters I know to give me new insights and ideas to make my zine the best it can be, and I’m looking forward to creating something new and unlike anything I’ve done before. As the semester comes to a close, I’m feeling pretty content with the outcome. I enjoyed the experimenting and being able to dip my toes into different genres. It’s opened my eyes to a bunch of new layers to writing that I’m excited to test out in the future!

Source: Giphy

Trusting The Process

When we first showed up to the gateway we were introduced to the idea of the experiments in the class and I had no idea what in the hell that meant. I just remembered being confused as to the idea of what it was. Transforming an old piece of writing into three different things when all the past pieces of writing I still had saved somewhere were research papers and analytic essays. How was I supposed to turn papers as bland as those into three different and intriguing forms? In the end, I wounded up taking my research paper about coffee from the past fall semester since the information from it was still very fresh in my head. Still, I had to think how I could transform this research paper into three different formats. Eventually, these are the experiments I came up with.

I started with a screenplay because I’m such a movie fanatic I thought I’d dabble in the art of screenwriting. Well, I was in for a treat. It took me hours upon hours to write a short scene that may have lasted 2-3 minutes if it was ever put to film. Nonetheless, it was interesting in seeing how screenwriting is done and I have come out of this experiment with a much higher respects towards screenwriters.

For my second experiment, I headed in a different direction, a humorous and expository essay. For this, I took my inspiration from a popular College Humor show called Adam Ruins Everything. In the show, the host takes common misconceptions people have about a topic and debunks them in a humorous way. I converted this style into an essay since this was the format I wished I could’ve written out. It was fun to write it out and I thought this would end up being my final project but then came the third experiment.

For my final experiment I ended up doing a blog. From the moment I ended editing the website, I knew this was going to be my final project. I did not spend all those hours just to set up the website to just it let it go as a sample. I knew I need to follow up on this experiment and I have had no regrets.

By the end, I’ve trusted T’s process for these experiments and they’ve ended up being very interesting as I have now created three interesting projects out of a typical college research paper. It is incredible what has come out of this class and I’ll see where the minor takes me from here.

the beginning of the end

When the semester began, I was really excited to see the unique layout of this class. “Ahhh so much freedom,” I thought. But, crap. I’m not a creative person. I’m used to guidelines and structure — it makes me feel comfortable. But, I realized that they’ve restricted me and my ideas in the past. When you’re told, “do whatever you want” it forces you to think about what you actually want to do (sometimes you have no idea), how you’d go about doing it (production plans weren’t really my thing), and why you would do it (I found what I’m passionate about). It forced me to take risks, be uncomfortable, and to actually learn.

In regard to the experiments, I truly enjoyed them. Having the opportunity to taste test different genres allowed me to try things that I probably never would have.

As an avid planner, nothing drove me crazier than when my experiment didn’t go where I expected it to. But, I learned that it’s okay. My first experiment ended up as a completely different genre by the time I finished the sample, but I learned more from this ~adventure~ than I would have if my sample went as planned. It’s all part of the process.

The first time T mentioned a peer review activity that we were going to do, I rolled my eyes. I thought back to english 125 and how these activities were epic failures. I can’t remember a single comment from my peers that actually helped me edit my paper. But, this year my viewpoint took a complete 180, like Miley Cyrus after her and Liam Hemsworth broke up a few years ago. I received thoughtful, applicable critiques, and also learned how to give the same in return. I realized that 2 minds working together is better than 1 (shout out T for those incredible one on one meetings where she makes you feel like anything is possible). But, 16 minds is better than 2 (shout out to my gateway classmates and T for their help and support throughout this semester). My final project wouldn’t be the same without them.

 

I’m a skeptic

When I started this class, I was really skeptical of these “experiments.” I thought this class was going to push me to write new genres in a more conventional way. I really didn’t see how these experiments were going to push me as a writer. However, throughout the experiment’s and the investigations into the genres I was working with, I have been exposed to different types of writing and styles. My dad has always told me that the way to become a better writer is simply to read, and now, I understand what he means by that.

Me at the beginning of the semester

Through investigating genres, finding models and reading my peers’ work, I have been pushed to become a better and more diverse writer than I have ever been. I’ve learned that I like to write non-fiction and personal pieces and that I don’t particularly enjoy fiction writing or creating podcasts.

My final project feels like a perfect culmination of the semester. It allows me to focus on the issue of feminism and women’s rights, to create a medium for other women’s voices to be heard and to share my own voice. Can’t wait for you to see it!

A season of discovering possibilities

All of my writing experiments this semester had been exploratory. I took risk to work on different genres. I wrote something I had never written before, something I had always wanted to try, and something that Alia from the 1920s would write.

Experiment 1 – was new. Script writing was something that I never thought I would do because: 1) I was never taught how to write a script, and 2) I didn’t know scriptwriting was ever an option, and 3) I was taught only scriptwriters write scripts, not people like me, non-scriptwriters, and 4) I didn’t really go to plays (I’ve started going to a few and they were, actually, fun). Families and friends who knew me would understand that the prospect of me writing a script was close to saying I acted in a play. It’s just never going to happen, but it did happened with scriptwriting and I’m glad it did. What I really liked from this experiment was navigating through a different genre than I used to. The format was unusual, the terminology was a new set of vocabulary and the process was distinct (these are all synonyms for ‘different.’ I have limited vocab). Even the library was different! I never would have guessed we have a library dedicated to only scripts! So throughout this experiment, I had a new outlook on writing and that writing can mean so many things to so many people. My experience of writing was different than your experience of writing, but through this experiment I got to feel what it meant to write a script. (It meant getting into character and acting it out even though to your roommate you look like you’re talking to yourself. Tell them, “It’s art”)

Lunch, lab and script for Ratatouille

Experiment 2 – was a shock.

Poetry writing

gone

wrong.

(Really? A ballad?!)

Experiment 3 – was my savior, an inner tribute to my dead cat. I wrote diary entries, from the point of view of a cat. This experiment challenged me to write something periodical in a non-periodical way. People wrote diary entries within years and I wrote this experiment within weeks. So it felt out-of-touch that in one real day, I had to imagine I had lived five days. Still, due to the personal connection of reminiscing my cat’s life, I decided to pursue this as the final project.

You know how Americans say pets are their babies, then Experiment 1 was my baby that I cradled with joy. Experiment 2 was an honest mistake(?) and experiment 3 was a celebration of my cat’s vibrant life. But for all of them, I discovered writing differently was possible and not scary. Although it was a bit painful to be going out of my comfort zone of rigid academic writing. It was like getting out of bed on February 23rd for an 8AM class that you enjoy going to.

a happy medium

Image result for long island medium happyha get it

 

I started with a dance. How could I not have? Excited about this class, thrilled to have a semi-functioning knee, I tackled the composition and performance of a dance from the point of view of someone with autism. And I enjoyed it. Truly, I did. I find gratitude and joy in my body every time I step in a studio. But I knew, right from the start I think, that this wouldn’t be my project. Despite its uniqueness in the class, dancing is safe. It’s part of who I am, it’s easy for me to create, and it wouldn’t teach me much about becoming the flexible writer that I want to become. I did, however, reinforce my career choice and remind me of my love of educating others. Progress, I suppose. Side-tracked progress is progress nonetheless.

Another experiment I dabbled in was my free form poem as told by anyone who loves or has loved someone on the spectrum. As an utter poetry novice, I felt the drastic difference in my comfort levels from my first experiment. DRASTIC. I had no idea how to write a poem in the slightest; I was miles and miles away from my comfort zone. I mean, I got it all figured out, I suppose, and I landed with a solid, effort-filled, sort of lame part of a poem. I really tried to get interested. I read tons and tons of free form poetry, I listened to poetry podcasts, watched poetry on youtube… Poetry is amazing. I’m touched by practically every poem that I interact with. Except my own. It’s a weird cognitive dissonance that I’m experiencing, loving poetry, loving what I’m writing about, and feeling nothing about my poem. I’ve learned plenty, about writing poetry, about autism, about who I am as a writer, but my lack of interest and excitement with this experiment that is so far from everything I know in life means this won’t be my project.

Thankfully, experiment 2 is the perfect one between the other two. Creating a children’s book is something that I’ve never done, but something I could try. Not only that, but it is a project that will challenge various parts of who I am: a writer, an illustrator, a researcher, a caregiver, and various others. This differs from my dance, which only utilized one part of me, and my poem, which challenged parts of me that have been barely developed. I knew it as soon as I started (I hate how cheesy that is) that this would be the experiment I fully realize. Creating the project has been an exciting challenge, unlike the other two experiments that I had begun. Finally, I had found a happy medium! Here’s to this experiment turned project becoming real!

 

comfort zone, where’d you go

For my experiments in Writing 220, I decided to repurpose a photoblog I made first semester freshman year. The original photos served as inspirational material for my future experiments.

For the first experiment, I made a photobook, a collection of photographs based on a central theme or “artist statement.” This format encouraged me to formalize both the images and the writing from the original blog format. With the photo book, I started off easy, with a vaguely familiar genre and format. To be honest, I stayed safely and well within my comfort zone.

In the second experiment, I got more creative and created the front page of a fictional newspaper, set in an alternate Ann Arbor. I had a lot of fun with the newspaper, which really encouraged me to get creative with my names, places, and stories ideas. I often refrain from creative writing, so the second experiment found me edging away from my comfort zone, into the unknown.

In the third experiment, which I also chose as my final project, I full on dove into the unknown. For someone who does not really like creative writing, I decided to write eight (count ’em EIGHT) short stories based on the original images from the photoblog. Yes, safe to say, I was well out of my comfort zone, but I also really enjoyed toying with the pictures and crafting short stories around them. I set all eight stories in the mind of an unknown narrator, forcing myself (a comfortable narrative writer) to enter the mind of another, a fictictious person, and write from their perspective.

All three experiments helped me explore a variety of genres (do you know how many cheesy explore gifs there are it’s ridiculous). I’m looking forward to completing my final project (well outside my comfort zone).

Giphy