It Seems Like All I Do Is Research

I think it’s the nature of a Communications major, one that’s heavily interested in media research, to always be researching. I feel like there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about an old study I really loved, or listening to my boyfriend talk about their favorite research, or my roommate discussing the racism in Artificial Intelligence. Or I’m talking about what I want to research, about Black History, about Black Media, about things that mean a lot to me.

And that’s what a lot of my research so far has involved. Black identity, femininity, things that impact my outward appearance (although for some people it’s a guessing game when it comes to my identity, something I could write a whole other blog post about).

What I’m coming to realize with this project, how little research, like hard research I know about the LGBTQ community, and trans individuals. As someone who is bisexual, and has been involved with trans rights (wow, does that sound self-indulgent? like hahaha “i have a black friend”-y?”). But I guess it’s one of those subjects that…I didn’t really research. Someone in a class has smacked down a reading, or a study, about being a trans-cyborg, and I didn’t understand it, so I just shrugged my shoulder and moved on. Was it the writing? Do I not care (I definitely care, I’m just constantly full of that good-ole self-doubt)? Was I just not paying attention?

I think it’s important to know how other’s identities can intersect with our own. My project is focusing on such an organic, human experience: love. And sex. But some individuals don’t have sex. Some individuals don’t love in the same ways that I do; that requires research, in areas that I’m scared to go. I know anytime I’ve read research on bisexuality, it’s always hit a little too close to home. “Many people believe bisexuality is a myth; that you’ll eventually be straight or be gay.”

My next podcast episode is about sexuality and gender identity. I don’t know if it’s right to combine the two together, but Olliver is such a strong-willed, opinionated individual that I couldn’t resist trying to ask him about all of it. But I also don’t expect him to know everything, to want to spill all the beans, to do all the work for us. Because we shouldn’t be relying on those outside our own identities to have to do all the work to inform us, to tell us how their lives are different from ours, and how they intersect. We gotta meet them halfway, know our shit, and ask questions that aren’t demeaning or blatantly intrusive. But my project relies on strong voices, relies on these experiences, to provide a sense of authority on these lived-experiences.

I think there is a fine line in research, to fetishize groups we don’t know about. I don’t want to do that. I need to be reading from those who have these experiences, not those who are interested in these experiences.

So, I just looked up trans writers and their nonfictional narratives. Because their stories matter more to this part of my podcast than my own narrative.

It definitely will inform me of how to formulate questions that are engaging, but also inclusive and respectful of everyone’s transitions, not one type.

***Update: podcast episode 3 went well!

It’s all gonna be fine. Right?

A blog post as captured by gifs from my favorite tv show (Schitt’s creek. Highly recommend)

Is it bad to still be feeling sort of lost? I have written a lot. I have created a lot. I almost feel ahead of the game. And yet, the whole project is still so nebulous. I’m in a weird place. I’m used to staying about four days ahead of my assignments. I have an “if you’re on time your late” mindset that has complete control over me, and therefore I have to be doing things early. With this, I’m always a day or two behind my projected goal. This stresses. me. out. I’ve planned important pieces every single day up until the deadline, so it’s nerve wracking to feel like I’m not working at the right pace. And despite having begun a website draft, blog posts, and even research-article drafts, the project feels like something that won’t ever be done. Or if it is, won’t be a unified thing. Or if it is done and unified, won’t be interesting or important. 

Canadian Party GIF by CBC

Kind of a downer of a paragraph, and as boring as it seems, I know my solution moving forward is to just keep going. Keep chugging way. I need to write enough, create enough that this project becomes tangible enough for me to make the changes that will unify its parts and turn it into an important piece of work. I know it will be. I also need to just keep writing because I really do need to stay on top of my calendar. That might just be the stressed out, chronically early, perfectionist in me saying that, but I’ve planned out my days so that I can turn this sucker in, and I plan to do that on time. Maybe one day early. Tbd. 

Well See Canadian GIF by CBC

As I move forward, there are a few things that I’m a bit concerned about, or that are at least weighing heavy on my mind. 

  • Taking pictures. I really don’t know what I want the pictures on my site to be, which is an issue because it’s one of the most important parts. How boring would it be to just be pictures of me?! How can I find inspiration for pictures regarding movement and health? I’ve considered taking pictures in yoga classes, but I’m not allowed to do this because I’m currently a teacher in training and it is unethical. I’ve got some thinking to do. And a photoshoot. 
  • My shadowing date with my D/mt consultant. I’m thrilled to be able to shadow her, but the date I was able to get to her is not the best, and I’m worried my three hour round trip will not lead to much inspiration or knowledge.
  • Again, I’m nervous that my project is not going to feel unified or important. I truly want this to be a good resource, but who am I to give out this information? Am I putting too much of myself into it? Will the information all make sense together?
pop tv love GIF by Schitt's Creek

Being pessimistic in nature, it was also a good exercise to think about what parts of the project I’m excited about.

  • My consultant Kaity really is the perfect match for this project. She truly wants to make it known that movement is powerful, and I’m really excited to meet her and see what she does. This has sort of been four years in the making, because when I was a senior I asked a bunch of d/mts if I could shadow them and never really got around to it. Now that I have a (different) career path, I can’t wait to see what it’s like to be a d/mt. My discovery of Kaity has been my biggest breakthrough for this project. I have high hopes that she will play an important role in the project. She has already given me a great interview and I think she will provide good feedback when it comes time for me to give her my work thus far. She seems like an incredibly genuine, knowledgeable person and I’m thrilled to be able to take advantage of that. 
  • I’m really interested in the other resources that I’m finding to link on my website. I have found numerous podcasts, articles, and videos that focus on some aspect of my project. And when they’re all compiled together I think they will be really effective in demonstrating my purpose. 
Pop Tv GIF by Schitt's Creek

As I move forward, I want to ensure that I am still focusing on research. I can’t think that because I’ve started to write, I am done researching. That’s really never the case. Especially since I want to continue this blog portion after the class is done, I need to continually be learning and expanding my knowledge and passion. I have already found a TON of research on yoga. I have learned about the many many maaaaany benefits that researchers have associated with the practice of yoga. Too many to write here, or even on my site (what to do with this knowledge???). I want to learn more about how to create a yoga flow based on a “limitation” such as anxiety or autism. This will come with my yoga teacher training, as well as outside research. I also would love to expand my research articles with more information about different kinds of disabilities, the way disabilities connect to movement, more details on the neuroscience of movement, and more. 

One step at a time. I got this.

pop tv GIF by Schitt's Creek

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.

Dear Prospective Minor in Writing Applicants,

I was hesitant to apply to the Minor in Writing because, well, I didn’t really know what it was. It was introduced to me with an email forwarded from an older friend without any real explanation. As I searched the Sweetland Center’s website I understood the structure of the program, but I still had unanswered questions. How much freedom do I have to write what I want? Am I just going to be studying grammar and punctuation all day? What will the classes be like?

I wished I could have seen students’ work, their progression, their struggles. I wished that there was a glimpse into the program other than the descriptions of courses and historical syllabi.

Over the course my time in the Minor in Writing Gateway, I’ve developed an understanding for all of these questions. And so, I wanted to share my experiences to show you, the prospective applicants, my struggles and progression, my missteps and successes.

An accumulation of my experimentation can be found here, in my Gateway ePortfolio.

You’ll see a discovery of my writing process, how I learned to think again. You’ll see the progression of my voice and how I learned to highlight it throughout various genres. You’ll see how I developed a strong sense of different audiences, and how they might react to assorted techniques.

And hopefully, you’ll see how I plan on continuing to experiment and question my ideas from now, until my final Capstone course, and beyond.

Happy reading, prospective students. Send in that application; you won’t regret it.

Best,

Ashley

What a Semester…

I honestly cannot believe that this semester is almost over, and that we had our last gateway class yesterday!  I remember walking into class on the first day having no idea what to expect from a course that broadly covered a bunch of new students to the Minor in Writing, but I can honestly say that I have learned so much more about my writing as well as different forms of new media writing that are really interesting to work with!

The best part of this class for me I think was definitely the creation of my online portfolio (I also really loved working with the re-mediation project!).  When I found the wix.com site, I instantly knew that was the platform that I wanted to use to showcase my work for this class.  I remember way back when we first started, I couldn’t stop playing around with the different awesome features and shaping my portfolio in ways that I felt were representative of me and a good way to highlight the different types of writing that I have done.  The ability to be creative yet in a way that is very applicable (now I know more of the nuances for making websites/portfolios online!) has been an amazing aspect of this class that I have appreciated and really enjoyed developing over these past few weeks.

Overall I’m generally really pleased with how my portfolio is now.  However, I do think that after this class ends I will be going back and looking over the reflective/contextual language that I used for my different sections of writing on my “Work” tab.  While I am proud of what I was able to convey right now, I somehow feel that the words aren’t “right” — I just need to find the right way to say what I want to say.  I think this is a factor of me choosing a theme (a writing “scrapbook”) a little late in the process and not being able to accurately put into words exactly what I want to convey about me as a writer.  I hope that my portfolio shows that I am a writer who likes to reflect and remember the little moments that impact my work as well as the memories that are forever associated with different pieces of writing and stages in my writing development.  I hope that exploring this can shed light on both myself and my personality, as well as my writing style.

Well, I guess this is it!  My portfolio’s debut and my debut as a Minor in writing!  Take a look, and let me know what you think!  I’m excited to see what others have created as well!  It’s been a great semester!

http://alyssalo.wix.com/alyssalopez

 

Enjoy your winter break!

~Alyssa

second chances

Like some of my classmates have expressed, I never appreciated revision until college. In high school, my classes mainly required in-class writing, and time constraints, convenient rubrics letting me know exactly what I needed for an A, even boredom led to my “one and done” philosophy towards writing. I wasn’t pushed until freshman year to actually, you know, think about the words I’d put to paper. Now I find the whole process weirdly calming. I’m a big backspacer and re-reader as I go, but even that isn’t enough to save me from the awkwardness of initial thoughts all running into and around and between each other. Somehow I’ve grown to enjoy stepping back and trying to see my writing from a different lens.

That said, I’m no stranger to those awful hours staring at the same page, rearranging paragraphs and words and commas hoping everything will somehow fit together, until finally reality sets in and I admit (sometimes only a temporary) defeat. The opportunity to revise, both directly in this class and just the practice of turning in multiple drafts by hard deadlines, has made me realize the amount of work that really goes into writing that we just don’t see. I think I tend to glaze over the actual painstaking effort of my favorite books and assume their authors just sat down and came up with genius on the first try (this theory is most definitely supported by the whole “one day JK Rowling sat down in a coffeeshop and wrote Harry Potter on a napkin” story). Of course I don’t know anyone’s writing process but my own, but I probably discredit the amount of hard work, not just talent, that goes into really great writing.

My Portfolio

 

I’m doing my portfolio on WordPress mostly because it’s the platform I’m most comfortable with. I wanted a layout that would allow me to include a background photo as well as a cover-style photo, but that was relatively minimalist when it comes to text and text organization (the theme is called Twenty Eleven, if anyone is interested). I’m including a Welcome page that will contain a reflective summary of the portfolio assignment itself, an About page that I’ll use to introduce myself, pages for each of the three major assignments for this class (Why I Write, Repurposing, and Remediating) and their draft structures, 2-3 writing samples from 5 of my other classes, a host of blog posts from this class and another class where I had to blog, and finally a resumé.

I really liked the idea of putting a resumé on my portfolio and being able to reference it as a source of writing samples in a job interview or a link to be able to give an employee (obviously I’ll make it available to my family and friends as well, but I want to be able to get more use out of it than just show and tell with people close to me).

I’m most excited about looking through all of my old writing samples and potentially adapting things to be more readable online (because let’s be real – who wants to read a six-page paper online?).

At this point, I’m not really struggling to figure anything out in terms of planning or navigation or organization or anything like that. It’s mostly just a matter of writing the introductory information for my writing samples and uploading and adjusting all of my samples. Essentially, I just need to devote time to putting things in the portfolio itself.

Take a look if you want! http://dylanbaig.wordpress.com/

understanding the process

At 2:33 am tonight, I had an epiphany whilst picking dried Elmer’s glue off my fingers. I finally understood the process.

I’m sitting looking down at my remediated assignment.

The initial idea was to take my repurposed essay and turn the concept into a magazine collage. Middle school was my collage-making peak and I missed the feeling of cutting ‘n’ pasting, forming new contexts around images, from snapshots that used to mean something else.

I entered my night of art with a few boxes and arrows, an outline of sorts of what I imagined for my large poster collage. As I flipped through the latest issues of GlamourWomen’s HealthCosmo, Lilith, and The New Yorker (my roommates’ interest spread as wide as the sea), I snapped out this photo, that string of words. I’d cut something out that I wasn’t sure would fit what I had in mind but that seemed somehow . . . right. I had a sense of trust in whatever was taking over me.

Next step was to dive in to the placement of images and words. After a period of shifting things around, I started to see what was forming, and it seemed like it was almost beyond my control. I didn’t think that what I had before me was what I had envisioned, yet it was working. Then I’d have a blank spot that needed to be filled and to remedy this I’d flip through a few pages of the closest publication. Aha, the words ‘where integrity is’ and those speech bubbles. Now this could be cool, I thought.

This felt similar to writing but stranger. As with a writing assignment, it helps to have an outline, to have a clear map of where you’re going. I know it makes for smoother writing, and with less hurdles to jump over in the middle. But that usually isn’t how I’ll approach an essay. Whether it’s for lack of time or trying, I don’t usually go at it with an outline. Writing for me is often about a word, phrase, thought, or experience that will inspire me– as happened tonight. I thought, this is something I need to write about, something I want to remember. So I jotted a few notes down on one of those inserts inside Glamour asking for a renewed subscription and rushed home before I lost the inspiration.

I realized though that with anything you need a backbone to stick with no matter what seemingly genius idea hits you. It may seem good to run with at the time, but any solid piece of writing, art, or music needs a foundation of integrity. I appreciated the process of creating tonight. Maybe I’m a visual learner, all I know is the process was clearer to me than with an essay. The proof laid right before my eyes.

Writing: A Love/Hate for All

After reflecting upon the conversations that my group and I had with the two writers at last night’s “How I Write” event, I came to realize that writing is something that everyone struggles with—no matter how talented you are.

I also came to realize that even the best of writers have sort of wacky ways of revising their papers and that more often than not, it can take more than 5+ drafts for a paper to be considered “done.”  I had never really heard of somebody taping their printed out paper to the wall, writing on it, then attacking the collage of writing with scissors to manually copy and paste excerpts or paragraphs to different places; and I thought my revision methods were obsessive and over the top…

More than anything, the event taught me that writing is a process and that even for the best and most passionate writers, the process, even for them, is a love/hate.  It was good for me to realize that others face the same struggles with their writing that I do.