Growing as a writer

My goal in creating an e-portfolio is to illustrate the progression of my writing, not just in this class, but over the course of my writing career. I want to present myself as a well-rounded writer, capable of writing in different genres and media. My work in this class was primarily fiction, and very little of it was what one typically considers “writing.” So I decided to include some of my more literal “writing” in an attempt to appear well-rounded. I’m adding to my portfolio mostly academic pieces written here at Michigan, although I’m toying with the idea of adding even earlier works, including some newspaper articles I wrote in high school. I guess the real reason I want to include these pieces is that while I am proud of the work I created in this class, it doesn’t really showcase my ability to craft words on a piece of paper. I’m proud of how that crafting skill developed, particularly last year, and I want to present it along with my newfound creative and digital abilities.

Some of the pieces I include also shed a great deal of light on my life. I think these pieces fit well with my theme of “growing as a writer,” because they illustrate some of the ways I’ve grown as a person as well (which can also be seen in the photographs on my home page). When I think about it that way, maybe I should eliminate some of the academic work I’m including and leave just the three pieces that highlight events and developments in my life. Something for me to think about…

Would you rather?

With finals right around the corner, do you prefer taking a big final in say a science or math class, or is the longer, but more spaced out, process of our final remediation/eportfolio projects preferable?

Neither, and that’s the end of this blog. In all seriousness, here’s my take on the pros/cons of each.

Quantitive final

Pros:

  • Higher degree of closure and feeling “done” with it. When you’ve read all the textbook chapters, done all the readings, and finished all the practice problems, its very easy to feel closure with the study process.
  • The black/white nature of practice problems for most quantitive classes (like finance) can make studying pretty rewarding and you’re able to get immediate feedback. If you take a multiple choice practice exam, you either get things right or wrong. I think in this sense it’s easier to monitor your progress in comparison to a project that is more rubric-based.

Cons:

  • The closure of reviewing all possible study materials is pretty difficult when your professor provides you with 50,000 practice problems for each chapter.
  • Because you can only get practice problems right or wrong, if you’re not getting them right, well, you’re getting them wrong (duh). And this can be really demoralizing when you do 9 out of 10 things right and then get a problem wrong. So the black/white nature of problems being wrong or right can sometimes make you feel like you know less than you do.

Qualitative project

Pros:

  • The higher degree of creative freedom often makes it easier to be more involved in the project. In this sense you can manipulate the content to a certain degree unless the project gives you a narrow scope.
  • You can take more risks, and usually this leads to a greater reward in terms of your satisfaction with the finished product. For the remediation project I felt completely uncomfortable using a green screen, but now I’m pretty proud of myself that I got it to work.

Cons:

  • It’s often to hard to feel any degree of closure because there will always be things we want to fix about big projects. About 12 hours after submitting my remediation project I realized that there were things I would go back and change (re-recording the footage with more enthusiasm and bleeping out swear words).
  • It’s really hard to plan for these projects because the time they take is pretty unpredictable. I had no idea how long it would take me to edit 17 minutes of footage in iMovie for my remediation project. It actually took me about 4 hours longer than I anticipated, whereas the script writing actually took much less time than I anticipated. In contrast, when I’m studying for a big final, I can usually estimate pretty well how long it’s going to take to read X number of pages.

I think that for me, I personally prefer exams, except in cases when I’m passionate about the project I’m putting together. For example, I have much preferred studying for my finance exam than I have working on my marketing project. That’s just because my marketing project involves analyzing Walgreen’s marketing strategy, and frankly I don’t care about Walgreen’s marketing strategy. At all. Whereas, with a project like the Remediation project that I designed myself, it’s much easier for me to enjoy the work because I’m (presumably) passionate about the topic or medium that I chose. So in a sentence, I usually prefer exams, except when projects are discussing things I care about (not related to drug store advertisements).

Additional ePortfolio Works

When I first approached the idea of which pieces of writing to include, I had to first decide what theme or purpose I wanted to convey through the writings I picked. I thought of all of the classes I have taken up until this point, and realized that I have had to write, in one form or another, in each class. Whether it’s an academic essay (like the ones written for Philosophy and Classical Architecture), or a laboratory report (Biology, Chemistry), I’ve had the opportunity to continue to develop my skills as a writer, even without taking English or Writing courses in each semester. The opportunity to display additional works outside of our class is a wonderful platform for me to showcase my talents with these other areas of writing. I plan on including the aforementioned Philosophy, Architecture, and Biology writings, as well as research essay from my previous Writing class, with the hopes that the wide range of topics and styles will best showcase my abilities as a writer.

When it comes to writing a paper vs. taking an exam, I think I lean more towards Team Paper. Writing is an entire process, with many steps involved that include receiving feedback at certain points throughout the project. I think this suits me better than a one shot attempt, like what you get with an exam, because it gives me a chance to work with a few different ideas, workshopping them until I am comfortable that I will be able to include everything that is expected on the rubric. For an exam, there is a level of uncertainty regarding exactly what is going to end up on the exam, which is more stressful than knowing exactly what is expected, something that a rubric offers. Because of all this, I have been enjoying our remediation and eportfolio work more than studying for my Orgo and Bio finals.

Final Projects vs. Final Exams: Choosing between the lesser of two evils

As a naturally lazy person, I would prefer to say no to both final exams and final projects and instead curl up in my onesie and binge-watch Netflix. Choosing between exams and projects is a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.

Although I am enjoying the projects we do for this class, as a general rule I tend to prefer final exams. With exams, there’s a starting point and an ending point. I usually start studying a week before the exam, and once I take the exam it’s over. Finals are more of a pain than regular exams since they’re often cumulative, but as long as I give myself a week I’m usually set. And by the time finals arrive I have a study method for each class that is guaranteed to work.

Final projects are a different story. For some reason they always end up on the bottom of my to-do list and result in me scrambling to finish them on time. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so pressing submit always gives me anxiety. What if there was more I could have done? In this class we have the option to revise a lot of our work, but this sometimes adds to my anxiety. With exams, there’s no option to revisit them. Once they’re done, they’re done. I can move on and start preparing for the next exam. Revisiting old projects requires diving back into my work and trying to remember what my original vision was and what more needed to be added. And then with resubmission comes the same question—was there more I could have done?

With all this being said, I would like to reiterate that I love the projects we’re doing for this class. I had so much fun finishing my remediation project (despite the familiar anxiety I felt when pressing submit) because I was able to be creative and explore a new medium I had never tried before. Perhaps if I didn’t have to worry about grades and hard deadlines for projects I would prefer them to exams.

hand written to digital struggles

After creating my digital rhetoric piece, I am now more appreciative of the literal act of writing. Although I am not fully comfortable with my own style of writing, I do feel more comfortable in writing a piece than creating a piece through a new media form. When I reflect back on my writing process versus the process of making a video, I there are more pros than cons for my writing process. I know that I can take my time in brainstorming and if something doesn’t go the way I want in writing, than it is easy to adjust and change. However, for my video project, things definitely did not go the way I had wished, meaning that I had to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm different things for a new direction. Also, it was tough to do that because with the route I decided to go (interviewing people for my project), I was dependent on people answering the questions the way I wanted to them, but only some of the interviews went that way. I just happened to ‘strike gold’ when I was given the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, where right at the perfect time in the middle of the session that I started to voice record him and received the best audio to help support my video project just four days before my project was due.

Therefore, I do not feel like dealing with only words is limiting because I am able to guide my own writing easier than any other way. I did not think that I would ever feel like that, but through having these different projects (from remediation to repurposing) I have been able to know what styles of writing I do like.

BUT, do not get me wrong, I am really happy that I was able to have this unique experience and create an iMovie project. Now I am able to know how to use the program and create something (along with creating the eportfolio). It just adds more to my skills that I am excited to keep using and improving.

The Fried Turkey Fiasco

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year. A holiday built around beer, football, and eating – seriously, what’s not to love? But, perhaps my favorite part of Thanksgiving is simply being with many of the people I hold most dear in my life and just celebrating being together in one place. Spending the holiday in Boston this year, it was an eventful Thanksgiving as ever. Read More

I will never go into animation

While I was working on the final scenes of my remediation project (a stop-motion animation) at my computer at about 6 a.m. last Wednesday morning, where I had been since about 11 p.m. the night before, I began to hate just about everything. I was quickly losing patience in compiling tiny images which would be shown for 0.1 seconds before disappearing, and I was tired past the point of being tired.

Dog with wide eyes, to say the least.
I might have looked like this.
[Image from Flickr user MTSOfan]
The worst part is that I’m not in love with the final product. I mean, it’s fine and resembles what I had envisioned it would look like, but when I finally hit that submit button Wednesday night, I didn’t feel accomplished. Relieved, sure, and very glad to be embarking on a much-deserved 4-day weekend, but not accomplished.

I guess stop-motion animations just don’t do it for me.

When I submit an essay that I’ve spent weeks obsessing over, I feel like I’m sending my baby on its way, off to do better things. When I submitted my animation — well, it was more of a “good riddance” type of situation.

It’s not that I was all half-assed in throwing a bunch of pictures together just to finish; believe me, I don’t pull all-nighters for stuff I don’t care about. I really cared about my project. I just didn’t enjoy making it very much.

I think this might be a good indication that I should stick to writing. You guys can argue all you want about how pictures and videos and all that jazz counts as writing – I’ll never agree.

There’s just something about actually writing.

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Here is a link to my final project if you are interested:

E-Portfolio Other Writing

As I have been working more on my e-portfolio, the question of what I will use for my other writing section has been haunting me. I want to add writing that will further display my identity, but I legitimately do not know what else to include.  I’ve decided against history papers. They don’t say anything about me. For the same reason, I’ve also decided against psychology and sociology papers. I want my other writing section to further showcase me, not just other papers that I’ve written.

When I think about writing that showcases me, I think of my journal. But obviously my journal will not be making a debut on my e-portfolio. The papers that I wrote for English 125 come closer, but they still seem too personal to make so public.

There is one paper that I can think of that might work as other writing. I wrote it for English 125, but it incorporates a lot of themes from a sociology course on nationalism that I was also taking at the time. The paper basically compares patriotism and nationalism, arguing that they’re the same thing just with different connotations. The paper analyzes a few of my personal experiences with nationalism/patriotism, but overall it is rather academic. It’s personal too, but still probably more academic.

I think that I could use this paper in my other works section, but for it to work I would have to properly frame it with reflective writing. I also plan to include the paper that I repurposed in my other works section. For this paper too, reflective writing will be key to framing it’s inclusion on my e-portfolio.

Thanks, Writing Minor

If you look back to my original essay for the Writing Minor Application, one of the things I said I wanted to get out of the minor was my own website. I knew from friends who had taken the gateway class prior to this semester that they were able to create their own e-portfolios and I thought that was super cool and something I should definitely do — regardless if I got accepted into the minor. So even before this semester, I kept telling myself to use Wix and create a site unique to me. However, procrastination kicked in and I never got around to it. That is, until now.

Not only does my e-portfolio showcase my proud pieces of writing from this semester, along with my academy-award winning movie making skills, it has allowed me to showcase my Michigan Daily articles in one, easy place. Through that, I am able to link future employers to my website and they certainly can get a full picture of who Jason Rubinstein is. More so, I am able to post my resume on my ePortfolio. By doing this, not only can the future employee read about me through a blurb on the front page, but they can also read my personal essays to learn about me. They also can read my articles to learn about my hobby and get a good picture of who I am before a face-to-face interview.

So for those wondering if they need to put more writing on their ePortfolio, I have put my resume and all of my articles.

It’s for the ePortfolio, that I am very thankful for the writing minor. It has allowed me to showcase my writing passion to the public, something that’s hard to do all in one place. It has allowed me to make myself a stronger candidate through jobs just by having my own website.

More so, the writing minor has challenged me to write in ways that I never have. Prior to Writing 220, I never attempted to write a first-person memoir. And while it was super challenging, and something I never envisioned myself doing, I am so grateful I did. It taught me that I can write in other genres and am able to do anything I put my mind to.

So thank you writing minor.

A Better Me and Writing 220

I’m not sure if it is the last blog post, but I’m sure I will miss blogging here after this semester.  I think it is a great journey we have been through together as individuals and as a group. Recalling the step by step growth in Writing 220, I am very grateful for every feedback, every suggestion, every comment that I gained from the professor and my peers. I think those are the motives for me to constantly improve myself both as a writer and as a person. I become stronger and more willing to receive suggestive comments because there is always potential to improve and these comments give me a better idea of where I should work on and make progress. If I should pick one aspect in writing that improves the most, I would say writing to be myself. We start from mocking others’ writing style; however, when we actually put efforts to create our own project, it is no longer about others. It is about who we are, and our styles. What I understand better is when you write with your own voice, it shows in the writing; when your voice shows in the writing, the project becomes more alive and sincere. In writing 220, I really appreciate that we have much more freedom in writing than other normal writing courses. This flexibility gives us more room to develop our ideas.

Talking about flexibility, I cannot skip eportfolio. It is our final project and summarizes our work throughout the semester. In the beginning, I really struggle in selecting a theme. As I said before, I want it to be a platform to show me not only as a writer, but an all-round person. I always feel related to the quote “If, for the sake of amour and cuisine, I must pay, then I would give my life away.” This quote inspired me. Therefore, besides writing minor, I have cuisine and amour for the rest of my eportfolio. I will include personal experience writing in both parts. In cuisine, I have writings about food, restaurant and recipes; in amour, I have writing about people, places, and culture. I think experiences make a person. Our experience can influence who we are and what we think, and ultimately what we write. I am more confidence about my design and plan of my eportfolio, and I hope it turns out great to express who I am in front of all my audience.