Storm

I was tempted to start this entry with the words “this time of year…” in regards to what was foremost on my mind this week. The amount of work due around this time of year is always going to be foremost in people’s minds at the end of the semester. This year has been a little different for me though and I think my mind has been in a slightly different place. Actually, no; my mind’s been in the same place, but my mood and motivations have changed. The remediation project and the eportfolio are absolutely reflective of a path I have chosen for my work, and this has really affected my feelings toward the work. There is a lot to do, but it is exciting work because I know I won’t just drop it forever once I finish. And this actually applies to my other classes as well. So it’s all good! 

This Thanksgiving ended up being a bit more stressful than I expected with personal things that came up. Luckily, I had finished a complete draft of my remediation project before the weekend. I wanted to be ahead of my work going into Thanksgiving in case things got busy meeting up with friends I haven’t seen for a year or catching up with family. When the weekend took a turn, I happened to be prepared, and so I haven’t fallen behind. It’s a good life lesson, I think, to stay on top of things and prepared for the ‘storm.’ Side note here: I went backpacking for a month a couple summer back and the most valuable lesson I learned was to always stay prepared in this way – do the routine, go to sleep with your storm cover and all, so when it does come, which at some point it will, you won’t have an issue. That’s a great lesson, and something that I still take to heart. When things get busy this time of year, one personal obstacle can throw a person off their work and off track from their other goals.

To tie things together: The remediation project and the eportfolio tie into my personal goals. In bettering myself and eventually, my community, these are the types of projects I want to do, and do well. So, this has been pretty cool.

Writing about my “Why I Write” Writing

I really, really enjoy the “Why I Write” topic. I mean that legitimately this time.

Normally, I get excited about assignments (I get excited pretty easily, not sure if this is good or bad), but then when I sit down to actually start to work, some of that anticipation dissipates.

Oops.

But this time, I feel the same kind of urgency writing about “Why I Write” as I do when I’m writing about fun things for the Daily. I still feel that sense of urgency–which is awesome–because my paper is far from complete and I’m excited to see where it goes. When I’m writing about this subject, words flow freely and I’m not afraid to just write down every single idea that I have. I really love how unstructured the prompt is, because I feel like I’m allowed to jot down pretty much anything that has impacted me as a writer. I haven’t been given an assignment to write about myself (extensively) in forever, so this has been really intriguing for me.

Also, as a sidenote, I really enjoy completing peer reviews. I feel fulfilled after I complete one because I think my advice actually helps others. I’m not sure when my approach to peer reviewing changed, because before, I always felt like I was forcing my opinion on others and I hated it. Now, though, I appreciate it way more. Maybe I’ve learned to enjoy slight criticism and now I don’t mind making suggestions to others? Whatever the reason may be, I just know that I love it.

Emma Stone reacts enthusiastically..

I don’t see the concept of peer review disappearing from the Minor in Writing anytime soon, but just in case, I would recommend never getting rid of it. Peer review is beneficial to everyone involved and I think most people agree that it seems necessary.

I really wanted to not write an essay.

RE: why and how I write

[insert title here]

So, I did a comic which ends in a brief poem.
I really like this format because I was able to show my process really well. Most of my writing process is inarticulate and is me basically staring at the screen and trying to think of what to write. And of course I don’t feel alone in this struggle at all.

However, when you’re doing it that way it can seem a bit lonely, a bit stressful, and very anxiety making. I tried to show this anxiety and solitude in my first few panels by exhibiting the notorious blinking type line. I’m not really sure what it’s actually called in certified technical speak. I’m not sure if it comes across in the 3 and a half panels as well as in this gif. blinking cursor gif

One issue I’ve run into is it’s hard to include much evidence in this format. The second page is where I provide some reasons (academic, feels, and communication are what I was going for) for my writing and in the final panel on that page I span many windows, each of which will have a bit of text showing themselves as writing I have stored on my computer. As far as evidence, it’s a bit shallow. I really want to stick with this format though.

The poem was written a little hastily (hey, it’s a draft), but it is heartfelt in its composition none the less. I will definitely revise it going into the last days of Gateway, because in peer reviews there were some mixed thoughts that I’d like to try to clear up.

Overall the review process has been very helpful for this piece though. It gave me some great ideas of including a few more panels to dig just a bit deeper for evidence and analysis, and maybe to add a bit more text (which at this point is basically any) to the first part of the piece.

In the final copy for the portfolio I’ll probably keep it colorless, at least for the most part, and hand drawn, but I’ll clean up my lines and use a good black pen.

 

 

Blog 11: It’s All Happening

Courtesy of giphy.com
Courtesy of giphy.com

Well, the end is nearing my friends, and like Kate Hudson so prophetically states in the movie Almost Famous, “It’s all happening.” Not just “all” is happening, but rather at this point in the semester, for me and many others, it seems like way too much is happening. I know this is supposed to be a reflection on the gateway course and our time this semester, and I promise I’ll get there, but sticking to the movie references and touching on the fact that way too much is happening, I’m starting to feel like Jack from Titanic. My sanity and any sort of free time is Rose, and she was holding on there for a minute, but the girl has officially dropped me into the depths of my insane amount of work, and I am definitely drowning. I AM DROWNING. It’s okay though, because I’m looking at Kate Hudson’s wise words, I’m envisioning myself as her, and since she rocks, and I have convinced myself I am her, I’m going to be a-okay. I hope no one is totally freaked that convincing myself I’m a celebrity is what gets me through hard times, although I’m aware it might be somewhat concerning.

Want to know what rocks, though? The fact that if I had chosen to write about Kate Hudson all semester, or if I wanted to chronicle my weird obsession with pop-culture for the entire term, the gateway course wouldn’t have questioned me, it would have encouraged me. This course, the projects I’ve done within it, and what I’ve learned about myself as a writer have been nothing short of insanely rewarding. This is going to sound so, so bizarre, and my friends make fun of me for it all the time, but I always refer to these feelings I get in my stomach/body during different times of the year. For example, when I think about summer I get this feeling of bliss and relaxation that washes over me. It’s a feeling that mirrors whatever emotional state or sense I was experiencing at the time, and I can’t explain it. I just feel it. This semester, every time I’ve sat down to work on something for the minor, every time I’ve walked into class and any time I’ve discussed my work with my peers in the minor, or even my friends who still can’t fully understand why in the world I’ve been photographing random people around Ann Arbor and asking them questions about humor for the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten this same, great feeling. It’s a feeling of inspiration and comfort, and it’s one that was pretty much established within the first month of this course.

The gateway has allowed me to establish a greater sense of confidence and pride in my work. I’ve been encouraged to pursue writing I love, and the fact that the environment is so comfortable has made it easy for me to push myself. Even though I’m drowning in work right now, just sitting here to type out this blog post for class is giving me a sense of comfort and inspiration. No, I’m not inspired to drop out of school and pursue acting like Kate Hudson, but yes I am inspired to keep writing. I’m really going to miss the “Writing 220 feeling in my stomach” I’ll experience when looking back on the course, and I’ll, inevitably, have a hard time articulating the feeling to anyone, which is ironic being that articulation is usually a writer’s strongest skill.

The Final Countdown

I cannot believe we have reached the final countdown in writing 220. This past week has been all about the remediation project. It has definitely been a longer process than I anticipated. It was nice to take a break and get my toes wet with the “Why I Write” piece, but I am still invested in the long journey that is the remediation project. After the peer review process, I have learned a lot about what is working and what can be improved upon. I am still in the process of meeting with a professional to advise me on fiction writing however, I think I have done a good job with cracking the surface.

I am enjoying fiction writing. I usually undergo extreme writers block when I write academic papers. Whether it be not knowing what information is important or how to eloquently word certain points, I get through it, but I struggle. I find that in my remediation project my writing is flowing rather smoothly and coming naturally. There are still some aspects I want to improve through the revision process, but as for the content I think I was able to capture what I wanted in each character.

What I am struggling with the most is the design aspect of the project. I am creating an iBook, which I have come to realize is somewhat limiting in it’s options of layout. I think it is a great program to work with, but I am challenged to make it work for the project. I am constantly changing the way I place photos and text. I am also attempting to find the perfect images to portray the characters I am emulating. I want them to be of good quality and authentic. This is the biggest challenge I am setting for myself in trying to select photos that I would have taken myself. Places I would have actually observed the people I am writing about in their environment. I hope I am able to emulate a type of “Humans of New York: Stories” for London and I am excited to continue working on it!

21 Days…

With only two weeks left in the semester (you’ve gotta be kidding me, right?), and three active assignments to finish for the gateway course before the semester closes (you’ve gotta be kidding me, right?!?!), there shouldn’t be much question as to what writing I’m doing this week. Like does it really matter if I’m grinding on the ePortfolio, polishing my How and Why I Write paper, or putting [what I totally wish were] the finishing touches on my Repurposing Project? All I know is that, in a section of my year where my thoughts are often dominated by study study study, they will instead be focused on write write write… and record, and film, and edit, as it were.

But all jokes aside, I can see the finish line on the horizon and all it’s going to take is a little bit of motivation and perseverance to get myself there. Although I’m drastically behind on my repurposing project, I have the audio studio reserved for Friday afternoon to finalize my recordings, and then excessive amounts of film equipment checked out over the upcoming weekend to shoot the accompanying video. After that, it’s just a matter of getting into the MLB and turning the raw material into, well, something.

As daunting as that sounds, that’s probably the part of the project I’m looking forward to the most… the pinnacle of every art form is taking nothing and making something. Besides, it’s been a hot second (read: 8th grade) since I’ve really tried my hand at editing footage, and I’m itching to get back behind the Final Cut wheel and give it a go.

So I guess as far as my struggles go right now, it’s sheer work volume. Is recording a song, filming a video, editing said song and footage into a music video, meeting with a teacher to review said project, reviewing two peers’ How and Why I Write submissions, writing my own How and Why I Write submission, and then compiling all of that and more into an ePortfolio that I created from the ground up (and then finishing this blog post) really that much work? Probs not. But when I write it all out there, it certainly seems like it’s a lot, and that in and of itself strikes a substantial blow to my motivation. But hey, this is college, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how much shit gets piled up in front of me, it’s still going to be a thing of my past in less than 21 days.

“What’s On Your Mind?”

As annoyed as I get by that question when I see it on my Newsfeed, it’s been a reminder this week in terms of the work I’m doing for this class. In particular, I just can’t get remediation project out of my head. I think it’s because a lot of the people I’ve been photographing have such interesting opinions on higher education and why or why not people should go to college that it makes me wonder a lot about my own personal decisions to attend school. Granted, I don’t think it’s a mistake that I decided to attend U of M, but I do think it’s fascinating that so many of my friends are having such dissimilar experiences in comparison. For example, one of my friends went to college for a year before dropping out and pursuing a music career. She posts videos on YouTube and plays at various venues around Chicago. When I took her photograph, she kept talking about risk. She knows the path she’s chosen is a risk, but she is taking it anyways.

Despite these questions reeling in my head, I have really been enjoying photographing people. There’s definitely been an itch to photograph that I haven’t quite been able to scratch thus far in college, so I’m glad this class–and this project in particular–has given me the opportunity to do so. I’ve loved playing around with angles and lighting to get the perfect shot. I’ve always noticed that some of my friends have become more open to being photographed, which is pretty fun to see! It’s definitely going to be a rude awakening when I have to take classes without so much creative freedom. I think I’ve gotten so used to making my own decisions that I’m interested to see what it will be like not to have this creative outlet next semester.

photo shoot

As always, with so much creativity comes numerous challenges. I’m struggling to continue taking photos of people with different experiences. I’ve noticed that the majority of the people I’ve photographed are my friends, and they have relatively similar points of view on stress and success that I do. This week, I’ll be pushing myself to ask people I don’t know if I can speak with them and potentially photograph them, just in the hopes of getting more diverse answers and experiences. This process has made me start to appreciate even more the Humans of New York account as well as other blogs interviewing and engaging with people. It’s hard work! Not only does the other person have to be in the mood to talk with you, but you have to be in the mood to listen. That’s one skill that I’ve definitely gotten better at since beginning my remediation. I can listen to people for hours on end now, with no loss of enthusiasm. If I gain nothing else from this project, that will be the most meaningful skill, I’m sure.

There’s also this aspect of not wanting to say goodbye to my remediation. This is definitely going to be a piece of work I continuously revisit and tweak because, like people, their stories will be ever changing. I’m looking forward to looking at my remediation year after year at the minimum to see how my friends opinions have changed or stayed the same. It’s a little bit of history I’m creating, which is exciting for me and I think for them as well.

Thinking About…

This week I have been thinking a lot about the ePortfolio. What I thought would be one of the easier projects of this semester has turned out to be quite challenging. I want my ePortfolio to be professional, and I websites tend to look most professional when they are clean and have as little text as possible. Yet I also want to be able to adequately explain everything I have put on there – particularly the repurposing and remediation projects. I think these pages will definitely have to be more text heavy than the other pages. Determining which extracurricular writing samples I will include has also been a challenge. I think the goal of an ePortfolio is to showcase our best work, and thus I want to really make sure that I have vetted everything properly. My ePortfolio is pretty image heavy – which was an interesting choice for me since I am by no means a photographer. However, I am personally drawn to sites with a lot of images, and I found a way to incorporate some images into my site in a meaningful way. For example, I have an image that correlates to each academic writing – like an image of the Supreme Court that can be clicked on to view a paper analyzing two Supreme Court cases. I’m still not sure what the main image on my home page will be – but I would like it to represent who I am in some way.

As for my remediation project, I feel as though I am close to the finish line. The bones of my piece are there, I just have to add a few more transitions and clean up some of the audio and visual aspects. This project was particularly challenging for me because I had never worked with iMovie before, but I think I’ve finally started to get the hang of it. Overall, I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I think this project will turn out well.

Why Do I Write?

This week I’m definitely thinking about the Why I Write project the most. Most evident, I’m thinking about why I write. But I’m also thinking about the position the assignment has put me in, in general.

Not only do I have to consider why I write, I have to write about it. My ideas about the purpose of my writing are being formed and organized in writing. I find myself in a weird, almost self-aware, position where I’m using writing to figure out why I write in the first place. It’s a question I didn’t really think about until we read the pieces by Orwell and Didion. They both discussed why they write, which seemed to me to be rational and for a good purpose. They are both respected and accomplished writers, so it makes sense to me why they would explain what they think their purpose is. It feels strange for me to explain why I write in their company.

And now, this blog post prompt is asking me to write about thinking about writing about why I write. I feel like I’m in a cyclic motion of thinking and writing, then thinking about why I’m writing and writing about what I’m thinking. It’s a complex situation that all feeds into itself, fueling a hyper conscious project. I can’t think of another situation that would be like this. I can’t create a math problem about thinking about math. I suppose I could draw or paint a piece about drawing or painting, but I don’t think it would be the same. I don’t think it would be possible to visually represent the levels of thought/writing/writing about thought/thought about writing, that exists in this project and this post. It would be too complicated to visually represent, and would probably require something written to explain it.

I think that I’m enjoying the position I’m in; it’s forcing me to think and consider things on a deeper level than I even have before. But at the same time it’s a little frustrating. It’s difficult to start writing about why I write when I don’t really know how to explain it. I don’t even know if I’m explaining it well now. I’m writing to figure out my writing. This project has kind of taken on a life of its own. Is it determining itself? Is it influencing me more than I;m influencing it? Am I thinking about it way too much? Probably a combination of all of the above, and some things I can’t even imagine.

Busy, Busy, Busy

This semester has flown by faster than any other. Here we are just weeks away from Christmas break, and I feel like the gateway class is just starting to pick up steam. By this I do not mean to discredit the work we have done so far this semester, but rather acknowledge the significant work yet to be completed in the coming weeks. Of course I am referring to the remediation project, Why I Write project, and the ePortfolio, which are all fairly substantial pieces of writing. I am most excited to work on my ePortfolio, as this project offers an opportunity to showcase all of the hard work I have put into my writing skills this semester.

Putting the ePortfolio on hold for one last week, I used Thanksgiving break as a time to sit down and get a good start on my Why I Write piece. For this project, I took a very different approach than the repurposing project and remediation project, and began the project by simply writing down any/all thoughts that came to mind as I pondered the somewhat overwhelming prompt of Why I Write. This process led to the creation of a more traditional essay containing personal reflections on my progressive development as a writer, beginning from the time I was about ten years old. This was an enjoyable process, and forced me to think back to various aspects of my childhood and relate them to the possible reasons Why I Write, which I had frankly never considered.

Furthermore, my personal reflections on why I write in the beginning of the essay Alt="Cartoon of book acting as bridge over valley"transformed into a more holistic approach to the prompt in the concluding portion of the paper. This final section focuses on the power of writing to provide personal clarity and understanding, facilitate widespread education, and ultimately enable positive change on a societal level. I also used these concluding paragraphs as a time to connect the reason why I write to the reasons why I am driven to pursue medicine. Overall, I felt myself relaxing more as I wrote this draft than the previous two, and this led to a piece that well represents me both in content and style.