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

The Voice of a Writer

Rewriting my own words in the writing of Henry James, in our so-called “style masquerade”, was much more difficult than I originally imagined. Or, maybe difficult isn’t the write way to describe it – more like awkward perhaps. It was as if I was trying to speak in English and yet I was only allowed to talk in old Shakespearian. I couldn’t form ideas in my head into words the way I was accustomed to; I almost had to insert myself into another person’s mind. However, I wasn’t in reality writing in another language at all – I was still using the same letters, same words, and same punctuation as I had always used. So, why did it feel so strange?

I think it largely involves voice. A writer’s voice can often be their most prized possession – a unique way of expressing thoughts into words that only they can produce. My writing voice is often different than my speaking voice; it is more akin to what’s truly going on inside my head. This is what in part, I think, makes great writers so great – they are able to communicate with readers in a way that only they can. When I’m reading a work by a world-renowned writer or by one of my favorite authors, I nearly feel a connection between the words and myself; I think this is largely accomplished through the voice of the writer, one of the highest goals a writer can achieve – the ability to connect. Just as we read of all the different options to form sentences, there is no singular accepted “voice” for every writer to aspire to. Quite oppositely, a writer’s aspiration should be to find their voice and develop it as effectively and eloquently as possible.

The next thought I had relates to the balance and relationship between voice and writing style. How much does a writer’s voice influence their style and how much does a writer’s style influence their voice? I can’t quite differentiate between the two and don’t know if there ever can be a concrete answer. What I do know is that I will always continue to write, in constant pursuit of finding my perfect voice.

For anyone voting in Michigan!!

ROCK THE VOTE

Hi everyone! So I figured I would pass this along…a professor told my class about this really helpful site for michigan voters

Just put your name into the website and it will tell you your polling location and everything on your ballot. You aren’t just voting for president, but there are a BUNCH of judges, regents, and other positions up for election as well as some referendums and whatnot. This just shows you what the ballot will say so you can know what to expect!!

 

How I Write: let’s all just cut the jargon!

I really enjoyed listening to Sheilah Murphy talk about her writing process at the How I Write event tonight. One thing that I really identified with Murphy about was her take on academic jargon: it sucks. There is nothing worse than reading a boring academic essay! Why would scholars want to put their readers to sleep, when most of the time their work is actually really interesting and potentially groundbreaking? I have always hated the unspoken “no I” rule within academia, because when I analyze something, whether it be a piece of literature, a political theory, or some social science research, I want to explain my process in my terms so that you can understand me. I actually am in a great English class right now in which the professor recently had us all write mock theses, read them to the class, and then explain to everyone in “real speak” what we actually were saying. It really helps when you are able to understand the writer’s voice, and one major take-away I got from this lecture was that cutting the jargon and using my own voice is ok.