Going Remote (capstone)

For those who might be taking Writing 420 remotely (in no particular order):

  • don’t be afraid to use office hours with T! especially to get more one-on-one face time going remotely
  • be open and honest about where you are in the project, and if you feel like you need to say something or are worried about your progress, speak up earlier than later; you’ve only to gain!
  • keeping to a schedule is hard being remote; make plans and actually follow them. if you end up breaking the schedule, make new plans and follow those. if you end up breaking that, maybe you should talk to T, lol. don’t fall behind the best you can.
  • creativity & passion > grades
  • engage in class as much as you can; those 3 hours every week are only awesome if you’re an active player in them
  • likewise, make time to read people’s projects / works ahead of time and be ready to provide feedback; think about the level of respect & time commitment you expect others to have for your project
  • eat food, drink non-alcoholic beverages, have a dog on your lap; as long as you can focus and feel happy in-class, that’s positively infectious to everyone’s mood
  • where-ever you are, show your work / project to peers / friends / family as much as you can during times like this. get some feedback and have some fun with it
  • respect that mentors / consultants may not want to help you given the difficulty of remote interactions, but do not give up on the project itself
  • similarly, be ready for setbacks due to remoteness. if you have a project that might be hard to do because of remoteness, don’t abandon it (maybe now’s not the best time; maybe after class), but just be ready.

Can’t think of much more. Hope this helps.

Alex

On Screenwriting (Capstone project)

Hello

https://alexpan71.wixsite.com/onscreenwriting
Password (all lowercase): miw

This has been quite the journey, both within this community and throughout my four years (and one more remaining) in undergrad.

I think my piece, site, and content speak for itself (as the image above shows), and I am not one to spoil. So, I have nothing else to say except…

Thank you. To anyone and everyone else, but amongst them all the Minor-in-Writing community for reintroducing me to writing as a passion, a life-long process, a medium of expression, an art, a craft… everything, truly!

And thank you, T and everyone in our Winter 2020 Capstone cohort, for quite the wonderful semester even despite the remote odds!

so thank you — thank you very much! 🙂

Alex

and also made this last night. might as well self promote lol

Blank Pages Are the Worst (And Yet, Pretty Exciting!)

Sitting down to write this blog post felt a lot like sitting down to work on my project: overwhelming confusion and frustration about where to start or how to phrase something or what even to write about at all, followed by a stream of words flowing almost mindlessly from my veins to the keyboard.

Followed, once again, by an overwhelming sense of writer’s block. đź™‚

But that’s ok. The good stuff comes from being patient. I definitely can’t call this blog post “the good stuff” (more like force-feeding the screen in front of me from what feels like an empty pantry), but I do believe that my project, at least, is getting some of that odd, trance-like magic.

When writing my last blog post, my project was still in the very early stages – having barely even been conceived of, much less fleshed-out. To use a metaphor, it was still that unformed ball of cells growing in the mother’s womb. But now it’s been a few weeks, and I actually think it’s got some limbs and a heartbeat! Exciting stuff!

So, like the technician doing the ultrasound, let me explain what you’re looking at:

I’m planning to write about five “memoir essays,” which can be thought of as a hybrid of memoirs and personal essays. In my five memoir essays, I will use creative nonfiction to tell stories from my own life (memoir), then give them a little spin toward the end so that the audience can walk away with something more than just a random story from some random person’s life (kind of personal-essay-ish).

While my goal is to write five stories, my workshop members advised me to write what feels right, without worrying about achieving an exact number of stories, so my plan may yet change and grow into something slightly different than the plan I am laying out now.

For instance, while I have already created outlines for five stories I might want to tell, I am significantly more passionate about three of them compared to the other two. As such, unless I come up with ideas for different stories to tell, I may need to adjust this aspect of my project.

For the three stories that I am passionate about, however, things are going pretty well! I have already drafted the first third of a story that explores grief and loss, and I’ve made attempts at starting two other stories – one that explores relationships/singleness and another that explores health/mortality/the unexpected.

I foresee a couple concerns with being as vulnerable as I want to be in my stories and with discerning if the story I am writing will have the same impact to someone who didn’t live it as I did, but that’s why I have mentors and classmates!

So, what’s next?

In the coming weeks, I plan to continue my research, meet with my mentor(s), and undergo a workshop to get feedback. I will also be writing a lot more (hopefully creating complete rough drafts of each of the stories I plan to tell) and thinking a lot more about what I want to write and how I want to communicate my ideas. Furthermore, I will need to explore and challenge my own sense of self to hopefully push beyond any hesitancies in vulnerability to create a collection of writings that are as honest and powerful as possible.

If all goes well, I won’t have many blank pages for long, and that provides at least some relief.

Wish me luck, and stay tuned for my next post!

Writing 220: Endgame

It’s certainly been interesting. I think I had this perfect roadmap sketched out in my head, but that map has been much harder to realize than previously anticipated. I have chosen experiments that involve more of a multimedia approach whether with footage or photography, things I neither have expertise in nor resources to acquire. So it’s been a little difficult. The one thing I like is that my experiments have this overarching theme that’s been progressing throughout. This final experiment feels like the conclusion to a well-rounded story rather than a post-credits tack-on of another genre.

It’s been a cathartic journey, with wrenches thrown in and myself trying to decorate those wrenches into something acceptable. I’m still trying to figure out the end goal though. I know why I would care and enjoy these products, but why should anyone else? In doing a personal project, I’ve really got to think and make it coherent as to why my personal life should matter for anyone else. It’s different not pandering to just one professor where I’m simply writing a paper or creating a presentation based on readings and assignments. This has a real audience.

For this final experiment, I’m writing an obituary that essentially doubles as a profile for the life of this girl, mother, character I’ve been portraying. I don’t know if I’m necessarily excited to write, because I know it will be tough to get into that headspace, but I think it’ll turn out genuine and I’ll be better for it. There’s much to do before I can get to that point (I have to conduct a lot of research on this genre’s conventions), but I’m ready to see what the end result will be. Or rather, what the endgame will be.

“Writing in the margins…a passion to communicate”

So I just listened to the podcast of Sweetland’s Writer to Writer session, and I have to say, I’m so bummed I didn’t get to go to live event! It seemed like there was so much energy in the room, so kudos to anyone who contributed to it. Maria Cotera seems like a really amazing person and professor—her voice came off as calm, yet powerful in a way. I could almost feel her passion and commitment to her work through the recording (as weird as that sounds).

Before I started to listen to the podcast, I didn’t really know what Maria was going to speak about. I knew the purpose of the session, but I didn’t know any specifics. So when she started talking, I was so shocked that her story was so relatable. She starts the conversation by speaking about her mother, and thus her exposure to writing through he mom’s social action and plea for justice. As she was speaking about her mom, I started to think about who my writing guru was—the person that inspired me to start writing. Maria’s story sounded so familiar to me, because that’s really how I got into writing (and I didn’t even realize it until after she mentioned her story). It hit me; Maria’s relationship with her mom reminds me a lot of my relationship with my dad. I guess more specifically, Maria’s mom reminds me a lot of my dad.

I should give a little background first: I am the youngest of five redheads who grew up in a house that strived on organized chaos. We were all the products of two passionate, energetic, silly, and loving parents who strived (and still strive) to make the world a better place. I didn’t grow up like the other kids in my neighborhood. Instead of family meals (which rarely occurred because everyone had such crazy schedules), family time consisted of stuffing envelopes for various philanthropic causes (which include, but are not limited to, foster care reform, LGBQT issues, or donating money to help refugees in Israel) every Sunday evening around the dining room table. The envelopes consisted of eloquent and powerful writing that was supposed to motivate recipients into action. Essentially, my dad would spam his contact list and use as a human assembly line. But somehow, I didn’t see to mind this tradition. My dad’s passion was contagious, and as I grew up, I started to realize that he was using his writing to make the world a better place. I was inspired and motivated to do the same.

In high school, I joined our nationally ranked newspaper, The Lightning Strike, and quickly worked my way up to Editorial Editor. As the head of the Editorial section, I was in charge of layout and design of the pages, oversaw all of the content being written, and wrote the unsigned editorial, on behalf of our the staff. My pieces were unconventional, as I geared toward topics like human rights, the importance of voting, community action, and social justice. I hoped to use my writing to motivate readers into action, and thus developed a passion for writing about social change. Like Maria, I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless.

However, Maria and I differ in the definition of “the voiceless.” During the podcast, Maria spoke about “writing as a communicative art; avenues for telling stories that haven’t been told. [She has] an impulse to tell stories about the people have been ignored because time has passed.” However, Maria argues that she only gives a voice to people who are dead, because it’s impossible for them to speak up. But she won’t speak for those who are alive because “everyone has the power to speak for him or herself.” Frankly, I don’t agree with that. To me, speaking out seems to be a privilege—one that not everyone has access to. My father and I do a lot of work with children in Foster Care for this reason alone. People who do not have support systems, who are emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, who don’t have the proper outlet, who are silenced by authority or the system at large. All of these people are very much alive and don’t have the power to say anything, for the consequence is way too risky. These people are living examples of “the voiceless” and their stories desire to be heard and spread, so the world can do something about it.

Therefore, I use my power of words for those who are not granted that privilege. In essence, that’s why I write.

And that’s also why I wish I were at the live recording of this event—so I could bring this up and ask Maria her opinion. In the meantime, I’m curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts, so feel free to comment below! If you (like me) missed the show, here’s a link to the recording. Enjoy!