Let Me Paint the Picture for You

Looking at my four pitches, there are three things that can be easily discerned:

  1. I want to do something more creative and of personal value rather than academic or practical for resume-building.
  2. I am a poet, an observer, a nostalgic, and a lover of stories.
  3. If it doesn’t have a semi-catchy title already in the works, it’s not for me.

When I think about it, none of those things really surprise me about my work, and that’s an exciting (and intimidating) place to be as a writer. It means I know myself – or, at least, I’m getting closer to – but it also means that there’s no arguing with the grinning child in me who demands more paint rather than a nice pencil.

So, all I can do is sigh.

But, truly, I think it will be alright. Talking through my ideas with my partner helped me understand the situation for what it was: a passion project. And if I’m not “all in” about what I’m making, I’m probably going to struggle more than if I had undertaken the thing my heart was set on in the first place.

Taking another look at my pitches, something that is less discernable (but still strikingly evident to a perceptive eye) is that two or three of my four pitches are all getting at the same thing: I want to write and share my stories – either as poetry, creative nonfiction, or both. I want to revisit the experiences that have shaped me, and I want to believe that I am as important as to have learned something worth sharing from the short life I’ve lived thus far.

So, call me conceited. Call me reflective.

Call me thrilled.

Whatever you call me, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

After all, you can’t expect to interrupt an artist when they’re elbows-deep in their work.

Reflecting on Project Pitches

When we were tasked with coming up with four pitch ideas for the project last week, I was immediately overwhelmed. Since the Minor in Writing showcase last fall, I had been thinking about what I could do for my Capstone project but never came up with anything I was actually excited about. I remained uninspired even after checking out many of the past Capstone projects over the weekend. As I sat staring at my blank Google Doc on Monday night, I feared that my Capstone experience might resemble my Gateway experience, during which I struggled to come up with a good idea until the very last second.

Me on Monday night

Luckily, some ideas came to me at the Ugli on Tuesday morning. Here they are:

Pitch #1: My first idea was inspired by one of my favorite classes last semester, Sustainability and Health. One of our assignments for the class was to adopt four conservation behaviors for two weeks and write a report about our experiences. This assignment invoked some cognitive dissonance and caused me to think even harder about many of my behaviors.

I was thinking of taking this experiment to the next level for my Capstone project, adopting several conservation behaviors for the remainder of the semester and documenting my experiences through regular blog or journal entries, short videos, and/or a social media account. The final product would be a website that discusses my journey through words, photos, and potentially videos. It could be a resource for people who are trying to behave more sustainably themselves.

Pitch #2: This idea is pretty similar to my first. It would involve challenging others to adopt some conservation behaviors for a shorter period of time and interviewing them about their experiences. This could take the form of a series of interviews or podcast episodes.

Pitch #3: I have been thinking about my two remaining grandparents recently and how I know very little about their lives before I was born. I also know almost nothing about my family history and origins. I have been wanting to interview my grandparents while they are still sharp and I was thinking this could be a cool idea for my project.

This project might entail interviewing my grandparents, conducting research about my family origins, and creating an interactive website to document it all. I am interested in potentially creating short videos featuring remarkable family stories or maybe even a documentary. I was also thinking I could have a section of the website that provides guidance to other people looking to learn more about their own families.

Pitch #4: My last idea was trying to learn how to code this semester using online platforms and documenting my experience by writing a series of blog posts or journal entries. I have been wanting to learn how to code for a few semesters but have not been able to fit a class into my schedule. So, I was thinking this would be a way to hold myself accountable and also do so more personal writing, which I have not done much of in college. The final product could also be helpful for someone who also wants to independently learn this skill.

After discussing these ideas with Bailey and Kayla, I think I could reasonably see myself picking any of them. I am especially interested in my first and third ideas. Most of all, I feel super relieved to have a bunch of ideas that I am excited about only a week into the semester!!

Me on Tuesday night

Speed Dating 101

Prior experience with speed dating: I had a coffee shop interview with a woman from Brown when I was applying for undergrad, and she asked me, “If you were in the elevator with the current Brown president… what would you say?”

 

I froze. I had absolutely no clue what I would say. Elevator pitches, or speed dating, has always scared me a little bit. I addressed this fear when I was assigned a one-minute pitch to advertise to possible publishers a story I wrote on algal blooms in the Great Lakes. I did well, but that was easier — I had done all the work and written the story already, and I was able to know how to summarize my thoughts succinctly and get a point across. In this case though, my intentions are much more vague. I hope it goes well.

Expectations for speed dating: A first impression can go a long way. Making this a cohesive pitch is essential… I should only bring the most prominent or interesting details come to light. Because, when speed dating, people can only remember so much from each person. If I can make one thing stick out and have it remembered by everyone in the class, that would be a success.

Possibly, today will be the memory people jump back to when thinking about my topic for the remainder of the semester. This doesn’t mean people’s opinion of me can’t change, or that I can’t do something unexpected, but making a good first impression is important. Especially, it’s important for people that I won’t interact with on a weekly or class-by-class basis. So, I hope it goes well.

I want to captivate people’s attention, spark something that helps them to remember this project. That way, next time when I do a full pitch they are better mentally prepared to contribute and have ideas for me.

Results: Nervous at first, what helped me get through all six or seven “speed dates” was listening, asking questions of others, and putting my project in perspective; rather than just simply focusing on my own project individually. The more the pitches went on, I realized the things I was listening for:
– What motivates you to want to tell this particular story/project?
– Who are you going to reach, and how will you reach that audience in a unique way that hasn’t been done before?
– What experiences have you had that will help you write your story/project?

So, though I was excited to ramble about my idea and express my true passion and desire… to make my 4-minute speed dating pitch resonate I began to focus on these central questions. The more I gave the pitch, the more directed it was, and as a result I think I received better feedback.

Now… continuing to listen (to the feedback) will be essential in moving my project out of the brainstorming stage and making it a reality.