Writing Becomes Fun Again

After reading the excerpts from Ong and Brandt and looking at the gallery compiled by our class of what constitutes as writing, I’ve come to a rather abstract conclusion. I still firmly believe that writing is not defined by written text alone, and to me, it’s a language that comes in various forms. Although after our discussion in class I found that some may disagree, I believe that any sort of compilation of work can, and does, constitute as a form of writing. Looking at the media gallery constructed by our class, the things individuals classified as writing ranged from something as controversial as a photo with no text to a seemingly middle ground of text/image compilations to examples as concrete as a purely written note.

Noting that most of our class comes from various backgrounds of every major and previous academic experience, it didn’t shock me that there was some disagreement amongst the group in terms of what counts as writing. I didn’t expect a Pre-Med major to perceive a painting as writing. Based off of my own preconceived notions and judgements, I unfairly assumed that because of the concrete, science-minded academic culture they’ve been entrenched in for the past two years, individuals of this breed wouldn’t be able to conceive the idea that something as obscure as a painting could count as writing. However it shocked me that others of more liberally academic backgrounds felt the same way. Many didn’t think a painting constituted as writing at all, and in fact, it seemed that most of our class agreed there had to be some text involved for something to count as writing. Is it because of the rigidity of our previous academic experience that most of us feel this way? As a Communications major I’ve spent the past two years of my college experience writing to analyze, argue and synthesize, as most of us have. I, as well as others, am fully aware that all of these things constitute as writing, but maybe the fact that I’ve spent so long doing all of these things is why I’m now yearning for a more open-ended of idea of what does count as writing. I think, even if it’s not (although I don’t really believe there is a correct answer), I want what constitutes as writing to be more open-ended than what I’ve been used to my entire college experience because for me, that’s why I love to write.

As noted in the Brandt reading, “Several people that I interviewed made analogies to the arts in describing their workplace writing, highlighting inventiveness and perspective taking often associated with painting, sculpting, filmmaking, fiction writing” (Brandt, 155). As noted in the reading, even in the professional world, writing can be as equally expressive as a painting. So, in my opinion, it’s a simple connection that not only can writing be like a painting, but it doesn’t feel far-fetched to say that painting is writing. Looking at what I enjoy as a writer, the array of examples in our media gallery and pulling from the reading, my goals for the minor in writing have become pretty clear to me. I want writing to be fun again. I would love to express myself, entertain others and weave in various media forms to convey messages. I think that throughout this course and the minor as a whole, I’ll have the opportunity fulfill these wants. Hopefully the minor will allow me to grow as an expresser and as a learner, so that all of the work I produce is something I feel is creative, but not too abstract. I feel like the minor will allow me to grow my creativity projected in my writing, hopefully making what I produce more powerful because of it. I want writing to be open-ended because I want writing to be fun again.

a (self) discovery

While I hoped to uncover some viable topics for consideration into the Capstone project through my browsing of the Library Research Guides, I instead found valuable information regarding the Espresso Book Machine (or EBM) we have in plain-view at the Ugli. An entire research guide is devoted to teaching us how we can (almost) instantly print a book for a very small fee! That means material in Open Source, materials with the permission of the copywriter holder, and your own writing!

Image courtesy of MLibrary.
Image courtesy of MLibrary.

I immediately started to think about 3-D printing and the printers on North Campus when learning about the EBM, and the ability to make something just appear in such a desirable form. Then I thought that I need to start writing a book or a story ASAP just so I can test it out. Everything a self-publisher wants to know about the process is up on the guide and ‘self-publishing’ tab. One thing that it makes a point of is to stress that the service doesn’t offer an ISBN number, but you can get one through contacting Bowker, the official ISBN provider or the U.S.

It’s likely that many students do not know about the EBM, along with many of the other amazing resources available to us on this campus. It was not until winter term of my sophomore year I learned I could check out video equipment, camera equipment, or laptops from the ISS Media Center for a short period of time.

I’m really excited I got to learn about this obscure resource for publishing on campus. While the rest of the Research Guides may not have been as useful to me, this worthwhile discovery was something I wanted to pass on to my fellow Minors.

My ePortfolio

Well here it is. The culmination of a semester of work. The entire process is completely and utterly done.

This is how I feel!!!!
This is how I feel!!!!

 

The writing of the portfolio was an interesting process as I had to reflect on the entire process of me as a writer. And so far I am pretty happy with the results. However, there are a few things I know I would like to work on:

For one, if I do video again, which I fully plan on doing, I know I need to start working from a script. It makes the presentation cleaner and I do feel as though it is helpful when it comes to keeping your thoughts organized. It also probably severely brings down the time of the editing process as you are not editing out as many mistakes.

I also want to continue to write stories the way I wrote my re-purposing project. This project was probably the most enjoyable piece of writing I have done, as it allowed me to not only reflect on the history of something that I love but to really hone in and find the story that is presented there. The story is honestly what makes writing sports pieces so fun for me.

Lastly, I hope that the theme of my blog is easy to follow. I want the world to know I am attempting to become a sports writer, which is something that I have not yet fully mastered. However, this was a real attempt to try and throw my hand in at sports writing while reflecting on my writing in general. I hope that the presentation came across the way I was planning.

Without further ado, I present: http://cjstonewritingminor.weebly.com

 

Just Spitballin’ Here

I was scrolling through my past documents on my laptop, there are some real doozies in there—not in a good way. But I came across my application letter to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Program. I had forgotten what I wrote about, but as a was re-reading it, my inspiration returned to me. I had written about my grandfather. As a Journalism major, he is always telling me to learn how to write. He’s always telling me that writing is the most important skill you can have. He says that no matter how intelligent someone is, if he sounds like a fool in writing, he won’t be taken seriously. Now, I understand that my grandfather grew up in very different times. People don’t rely on writing as much as they used to, and engineers are in much higher demand than journalists. But I made a promise to my grandfather and I have every intention of keeping it.

For my project I plan to make an academic argumentation on the importance of writing. I want to emphasize the importance of teaching proper writing skills in grade school. I also want to argue that even in an increasingly technological society, being able to write is as necessary a skill as any. The skill transcends to being able to communicate clearly in any situation, and through any medium.

I don’t know what publication to gear my project towards. Cohorts, any ideas? T, I definitely plan to meet with you and just talk it out.

Thinking even further ahead, because my grandfather was my inspiration for both my Sweetland application and this upcoming project, I was thinking of writing a short fictional novella based on his life. Has anyone read Half-Broke Horses or Unbroken? Similar format to those books, but most definitely without the finesse of Jeannette Walls or Laura Hillenbrand. That’s just an idea though, not sure if I’m cut out to be writing on that scale just yet.

My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.
My Paga and Blue kickin it back like a couple of homies.

 

Decisions, Decisions

As T began explaining our next project, my mind began to wander. I have written endless amounts of papers and essays throughout my life, but what was I going to use for Project 2? Something that T said stood out in my mind, “Pick a piece about something you are passionate about and that you will be happy working with for the rest of the semester.” In my head I went through the list of papers I have written during my time at Michigan. Although I have liked a lot of pieces I have written and done well on them, nothing stuck out. It was then when I remembered the ice- breaker game we played on the first day of class. Someone had asked me what my favorite piece of writing I had ever wrote was, and I had responded: my college common application essay. I knew that I had to use it for Project 2.

I wrote my common application essay about how Rory Gilmore, the main character in the TV Show Gilmore Girls, has influenced my life, both personally and academically. I had not read the essay since the end of senior year, but it has always held a special spot in my heart. When I went back and re-read my essay, my decision about using it for Project 2 was reinforced.

In my essay I write about how I have grown up watching Gilmore Girls. Throughout my adolescences I connected to Rory, and she influenced me in many ways. I think that in my re-purposing and then re-mediatiation it will be interesting to explore all of the ways Rory has influenced me as well as focusing on how fictional characters have influenced other individuals. If I focused on Rory’s influence on me, I think I would create a BuzzFeed article about reasons why you should look up to Rory Gilmore. I was also thinking that I could ask students if they have ever been influenced by a fictional character and create something from all of their answers. I’m not quite sure the direction I want to take, but I do know that I want to use my Rory Gilmore essay!

gilmore-girls

 

The iconic mother daughter pair: Rory and Lorelai Gilmore

mischief managed

All I could think about when publishing my ePortfolio was this iconic phrase from Harry Potter.

The long road through the Gateway course is finally over, and I couldn’t be more excited to publish my ePortfolio to the world. The experience of designing a website for me to showcase my work in the course was extremely rewarding. I learned a lot about being patient in the website building process as well as the revision process. As a visual person, Wix allowed me to layout everything exactly as I planned it with technical ease. I became such a pro at it that I ran a tutorial to the class so that my peers could make an educated decision on whether to use WordPress or Wix.

I hope that people take advantage of the comment box, static at the bottom of each page. I would really like to know how my readers experienced reading my portfolio, and of course, whether or not they enjoyed it.

As the last day of my junior year comes to a close, I am so happy I was able to put forth my best effort this school year. I accomplished my goal of no procrastination, producing quality work, and (I think) becoming a better writer. I can’t wait for Winter 2015 and the Capstone course, and will continue writing until that time comes. Until then, gateway mischief managed.

An Open Letter to Future Cohorts: Welcome to the CHAOS

Dear Writing Cohort-folk,

First of all, congratulations!  Getting admitted to this program is easily one of the coolest things that’s happened to me since coming to U of M.  The projects in the gateway course are really fun, and, if you play your cards right, they’ll  really push you to grow and develop as a writer.

This brings me the main point of this blog post: “playing your cards right”; what exactly does that mean, and how do you go about doing it?

The answer is simple, but much easier said than done: You need to constantly revisit the chaos.

There’s this article I read for Writing 300 (Seminar in Peer Tutoring) called “Responding to Student Writing” by the very smart, scholarly Nancy Sommers, where she discuses the notion of “revisiting the chaos” in writing, meaning re-entering the place in your writing process where you feel lost, overwhelmed, or just plain old unhappy because you’ve cut too much, rearranged things in a weird way, or have done something else to really mess up whatever balance you had in the previous draft.  For her, revising is built on this notion, and I couldn’t agree with her more.

The truth is, I don’t think you’re really a writer until you reach a point in your work where you think you’ve completely destroyed everything and have no hope of recovery, only to find a few minutes later that you’ve made the piece waaay stronger than it was before.  And I think you need to do this at least 3 times.

For me, this is what the gateway course has been all about.  I have been revisiting the chaos so much that I practically live there.  Is this terrifying, stressful, and at times awful?  YES!  But DAMN have you read my essay for Project 2???  That stress and terror are worth creating art I feel proud of.

My point in telling you this, future writing minors, is not to scare you off, or give you any sort of tough love.  I just want you to know that if you find yourself feeling freaked out, lost, or overwhelmed in your revising process, it’s okay.

This is a good time and place to be lost.

Roll The Windows Down, And Enjoy the Ride

On the first day of Writing 220 class, I remember the feeling of being in way over my head. We were asked to talk a little bit about our favorite books and our favorite authors, and my answer came up short. In all honesty, I am not much of a reader. When I was little, I was more interested in playing outside than sitting down and reading a book. That character trait has stayed with me into college, and I still do not devote much of my leisure time to books. Although reading was never a huge passion of mine, my love for writing has only grown over the years. I get bothered by the fact that there is an assumption that people become writers because they love to read; can’t I become a writer because I just love to write?

After getting home from class that night, I started doing some research about famous authors (embarrassing, I know), in case we were again asked about this topic in a future class. I wanted to be able to fit in and not admit the fact that I don’t devote much, if any of my free time to books. Looking back on this now, I am more mad at my past self for trying to morph into a stereotypical writer and fit in, than I am about the absence of novels on the shelf in my room.

So…

My advice to you, and to my future self is this:

Slow down, and enjoy the ride. Maybe even pick up an ice cream cone just because you can. Let the process happen to you, don’t try to make yourself fit the process. Although ‘you’ as a writer may not fit the mold of your peers or those who have come before you, you were accepted into this minor for a reason. You obviously have talent and a passion for the written word, so don’t let your differences make you feel inferior.

Celebrate the fact that you are different, and if you aren’t much of a reader either, hey, shout it out! Let your writing speak for itself, and enjoy the process of experiencing the minor. The air outside is nice, so roll those windows down and keep on driving.

Good Luck!

Abigail

Future MIW Kids: You’ll Never Really Finish Anything

Seriously. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my first semester as a writing minor, it’s that you will turn in every piece of work feeling as though it’s not done. It could be tweaked. It could be altered. That one sentence in the third paragraph on the fourth page is ever so slightly off, but you turn it in anyways. And you read it proudly out loud in front of the class. Because we’re writers, damnit! And writers are never finished.

And that’s ok. You aren’t alone. The sooner you accept this to be true, the sooner you’ll be able to embrace this experience for all that it is. It’s an opportunity to explore not only your writing process, your language, your structure and tone; it’s a chance to experiment with ideas and words and smash them together until you’re left with a big, beautiful dictionary collage. You’ll write things that are silly. You’ll write things that are much more significant and meaningful than you thought possible. Best of all, you’ll start thinking like a writer.

Thinking like a writer means you read sentences in your textbooks twice and ask yourself whether they could have been formed better. You admire writing in new places, like documentaries, songs, and the menu scribed in chalk at your favorite coffee shop. You become more effective in your own speech, learning how to say more in fewer words. You’ll piss your friends off by arguing about semantics, but that’s ok because now you’re thinking like a writer!

So, my advice to you is to keep an open mind. As someone who has always been told she was a good writer, and I’m sure many of you can relate to that sentiment, learning how to keep an open mind was easily my most important takeaway from this class. I realized I have so much to improve upon and becoming a writing minor was just the first step on my journey to become a better writer and thinker. You can never be done growing as a thinker. So you’ll never be done writing.

A writer is never truly finished.

I consider myself to be approximately three in "writer years." Old enough to be slapping words together but not old enough to be saying anything too profound.
I consider myself to be approximately three in “writer years.” Old enough to be slapping words together but not old enough to be saying anything too profound.
This is a photo of me and my brother (still in little potato form), c. June 1996.

getting wix-y with it

site preview
The tentative top-half of my ePortfolio’s home page.

After presenting a Wix tutorial to the class on my ePortfolio, I feel pretty good about all the work I did last week to get me up to this point. Instead of procrastinating this assignment like I thought I would, I spent four hours last Thursday evening laying out as much as I could and then creating a useful Google Doc for everything else that needed to be written. It was my first time ever using Wix, and through experimenting with different plug-ins, widgets, and ways to present all of my work, have an ePortfolio I can really be proud of.

The coolest part for me about my “tech challenge” was that the class generally seemed to enjoy it and asked questions about how they could enhance/improve their own ePortfolios. While I didn’t have a pre-planned script to go off of, my impromptu tone allowed me to navigate through my portfolio and all of its pages through the eyes someone who has never seen it.

Now all that’s left is revision, revision, and more revision. As much as I love every written word on my portfolio now, I want to use the time until the due date to make sure everything is said in the most coherent and clear way possible. There are so many variations to choose from as far as how to present our work. Every decision must be made with extreme clarity and reason.

Overall, I think I accomplished my goal of using my choices to create a stylish, “final” product.

I’m looking forward to see my peers’ ePortfolios-in-progress soon. Hopefully my ePortfolio will give others inspiration to start theirs now and not the week before it due (or sooner). So much value is gained by starting a term project so early, including not panicking, creating quality work, and having the ability to go back and revise where necessary. The more we get done before the last day of class, the more we can help each other out through peer feedback and revisions.

Another component of my project that Shelley commented on that I need to be cautious of is the images I used that aren’t mind. I need to make sure they are fair use and not violating any copyright policies. I will go back and pray that the images I have up are fair use because I really like them a lot and they fit in with my vintage theme. Other than that hiccup, the other technical components of my ePortfolio are solid.

Content-wise, I also need to ensure that my annotated bibliographies are added to both the re-purposing and re-mediation pages. As this is a required component to the course I need to make sure I don’t forget to do it. I think the best way to represent them will be putting them at the end of the embedded documents so that users can just scroll down more and browse through them.

I’m super excited about having so much done already and look forward to really being done in a few short weeks.