All posts by haileyjcarone

interviewing yourself: the writing process

Same, Spongebob. Same.
Let's face it - the writing process is hard. It's not all "divine inspiration" that comes to you on a beautiful summer's day, as you watch a butterfly gently land on a deer's nose. In fact, a lot of the writing process is the exact opposite - you have to spend a lot of time out in the blizzards of winter, dragging yourself through a storm of snow, just so you might be able to catch a glimpse of the last gallon of milk before someone buys it right before you do. It sucks, but it's true - the harshness of reality is often that writing can feel like a chore, where you're crawling around looking for inspiration, and sometimes even feeling like a failure when you're not the next Wordsworth, who seemed to be able to write a hundred poems alone about the same goddamn dandelion.

But, good news! It doesn't make you a failure! I think these articles help with setting up the beginning of the writing process for anyone wanting to create a piece of literary art. "Writing a Narrative" helps the writer think about the contextual and logistical questions of what you want your work to be - who is your audience? What genre are you going for? What medium will you use to portray your work? These questions are important during the writer's brainstorming process. Additionally, it also helps with the momentum of creating ideas and bringing the piece to life.

For example, last semester I had to create a piece of electronic literature. I'll be honest - it seems like a daunting task, as electronic can literally be anything, as long as it retains a digital form. So, I had an idea of what my medium was going to be like. After that, I started thinking about what I wanted to write about - I knew I wanted to write a love story, but one with a twist. I also knew I wanted there to be a lot of blink-182 references and lyrics weaved throughout... I started exploring my more specific choices for mediums more, and then the piece started to come to life. I chose to use Wix and create a site that looked like someone's desktop, so that this interactive piece was going to be explored by the reader as if they were on this character's computer. Next, I started thinking about the characters themselves - they were young, so I wanted to give it that flair of modernity, and include apps like Spotify, Skype, and Instagram in the piece to help tell the story.

As you can see, a lot of my ideas for my writing process came to me when I had to think about my writing in a more practical sense. Ideas often come when you're thinking about the logistics of your work, or how it will affect the community you want to present it to. Again, the writing process isn't just necessarily about the main poetic idea that you strive and strive to look for or happen upon - instead, it's a rough process that does require a lot of thinking to set it in motion. However, once it gets going, Wordsworth and his dandelion poems better watch out.

Zissner's chapter was also interesting. While it provided good tips for interviewing people, I saw a lot of it as being apart of the writing process itself - Zissner's ideas could easily apply to interviewing "yourself" in order to understand yourself (and your process) better.

I liked the simplicity of reminding the reader to carry a notebook and pencil with them when going into an interview. With that being said, a writer might find it helpful to do the same; by carrying a pad of paper and pen around with them, they are able to write things down they come across that might inspire, amuse, or interest them, in order to fuel ideas for writing later. Additionally, I think people can be afraid to explore their emotions, as interviewers can be afraid to touch on things and ask the people they're interviewing certain questions. I think if writers take that extra personal push and really start thinking about who they are and what their thoughts / feelings are about certain things, it will give more insight into who they are as a person, which can get them to think more deeply and poetically about themselves and life.

Ultimately, getting to know yourself better will help in the long run of the writing process. Being able to know what interests you, or how you feel (or don't feel), creates some interesting ideas to explore and write about. You are unique, and your writing will reflect it, if you are able to be authentic with yourself and the words on your paper - people will be able to see and appreciate you for who you really are after seeing your work, as writing is the most sincere and blatant form of expression.

interviewing yourself: the writing process

Same, Spongebob. Same.
Let's face it - the writing process is hard. It's not all "divine inspiration" that comes to you on a beautiful summer's day, as you watch a butterfly gently land on a deer's nose. In fact, a lot of the writing process is the exact opposite - you have to spend a lot of time out in the blizzards of winter, dragging yourself through a storm of snow, just so you might be able to catch a glimpse of the last gallon of milk before someone buys it right before you do. It sucks, but it's true - the harshness of reality is often that writing can feel like a chore, where you're crawling around looking for inspiration, and sometimes even feeling like a failure when you're not the next Wordsworth, who seemed to be able to write a hundred poems alone about the same goddamn dandelion.

But, good news! It doesn't make you a failure! I think these articles help with setting up the beginning of the writing process for anyone wanting to create a piece of literary art. "Writing a Narrative" helps the writer think about the contextual and logistical questions of what you want your work to be - who is your audience? What genre are you going for? What medium will you use to portray your work? These questions are important during the writer's brainstorming process. Additionally, it also helps with the momentum of creating ideas and bringing the piece to life.

For example, last semester I had to create a piece of electronic literature. I'll be honest - it seems like a daunting task, as electronic can literally be anything, as long as it retains a digital form. So, I had an idea of what my medium was going to be like. After that, I started thinking about what I wanted to write about - I knew I wanted to write a love story, but one with a twist. I also knew I wanted there to be a lot of blink-182 references and lyrics weaved throughout... I started exploring my more specific choices for mediums more, and then the piece started to come to life. I chose to use Wix and create a site that looked like someone's desktop, so that this interactive piece was going to be explored by the reader as if they were on this character's computer. Next, I started thinking about the characters themselves - they were young, so I wanted to give it that flair of modernity, and include apps like Spotify, Skype, and Instagram in the piece to help tell the story.

As you can see, a lot of my ideas for my writing process came to me when I had to think about my writing in a more practical sense. Ideas often come when you're thinking about the logistics of your work, or how it will affect the community you want to present it to. Again, the writing process isn't just necessarily about the main poetic idea that you strive and strive to look for or happen upon - instead, it's a rough process that does require a lot of thinking to set it in motion. However, once it gets going, Wordsworth and his dandelion poems better watch out.

Zissner's chapter was also interesting. While it provided good tips for interviewing people, I saw a lot of it as being apart of the writing process itself - Zissner's ideas could easily apply to interviewing "yourself" in order to understand yourself (and your process) better.

I liked the simplicity of reminding the reader to carry a notebook and pencil with them when going into an interview. With that being said, a writer might find it helpful to do the same; by carrying a pad of paper and pen around with them, they are able to write things down they come across that might inspire, amuse, or interest them, in order to fuel ideas for writing later. Additionally, I think people can be afraid to explore their emotions, as interviewers can be afraid to touch on things and ask the people they're interviewing certain questions. I think if writers take that extra personal push and really start thinking about who they are and what their thoughts / feelings are about certain things, it will give more insight into who they are as a person, which can get them to think more deeply and poetically about themselves and life.

Ultimately, getting to know yourself better will help in the long run of the writing process. Being able to know what interests you, or how you feel (or don't feel), creates some interesting ideas to explore and write about. You are unique, and your writing will reflect it, if you are able to be authentic with yourself and the words on your paper - people will be able to see and appreciate you for who you really are after seeing your work, as writing is the most sincere and blatant form of expression.

writing and the world around us

There are different ways to shape the world we live in. In particular, the push for social justice and the act of writing share significant ties in how a society morphs and progresses. Both social justice, or Social Action, and writing are most important when it comes to their relationship with youth culture. At an early age, both things become a significant part of an adolescent's life. Young people are just then learning about themselves and exploring who they are, and as I've talked about before here, are working to construct their identity. Writing becomes significant because it is a medium that helps them express themselves and channel their thoughts and opinions. Similarly, Social Action is important because it adds to the understanding of the self and what they believe in, as well as to help them see the change that they want to bring to the world around them.

With that being said, when social justice and writing come together, it becomes even more significant - and not just in that individual's life, either. When young people write, and write about social injustices and oppression around them, it adds to the powerful voice of change erupting from all parts of the world, especially in today's society, and reinforces the movement toward progress and equality as a people. When reading the articles for today's class, it was interesting to see how it stresses on the importance of education for adolescents. It adds to the idea of how real the future is in the hands of each upcoming generation. Thus, exposing them to real issues and having them have a personal investment in the things happening around them adds to that crucial relationship of student and expression.

I like that teachers are letting students express themselves more and more in the classroom. It's impossible to escape from the hell that is the reality around us, and it's great that classrooms are letting students critically think, discuss, and write about things are important and relevant to their everyday life. With that, writing becomes more of that authentic expression as opposed to a chore, and is good for both the student, teacher, and society as a whole- the student's voice becomes real and present, and once it is expressed in writing, it becomes a fact in the world around us. 

i-Dentity

I just wanted to start off with saying I really enjoyed the articles we read for today's class, since it harkens back to the discussion regarding fanfiction with Fansplaining's Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel in our Networked Narrative's class. Additionally, both articles bring up the concept of identity, and how / what contributes to the construction + perception of it in contemporary society, which is a very new and interesting conversation to reflect on. However, both articles also touch on how that discussion also envelopes the idea of the "writer identity" that we have talked about in the past -- it becomes another factor into how people, particularly modern day youths, build and view themselves as writers in a generation and community that has an extraordinary online presence and reach.

Thomas W. Bean and Karen Moni, in their article "Developing Student's Critical Literacy: Exploring Identity Construction in Young Adult Fiction," capture this phenomenon rather well by saying,
"In summary, we found the following themes emerging from contemporary discussions of identity construction. First, identity is no longer anchored to stable employment, communities, or institutions. Rather, identity is constructed through the properties of individual action carried out - more often than not for urban teens - in nonplaces like malls, train stations, and airports. Identity is now a matter of self-construction amidst unstable times, mores, and global consumerism" (642).
The idea of how identity is constructed has changed vastly as we find ourselves in a contemporary society exposed to and obsessed with fleeting materialism, endless (and often times suspicious) outlets for media, and their personal and publicized online presence + aesthetic. All of these factors not only change how the genre of young adult fiction is considered and written, but also feeds into a greater question of how youths are trying to find and put themselves together in this post-postmodern world. They make mention of how there is a more pressing feeling of instability and uncertainty in the younger generation, as opposed to constructing a world around them that is rooted and invested in a stable future; however, I do want to make note that I feel like the authors sound rather bitter here- they make it sound like younger people are not concerned AT ALL with trying to invest in a future and have no interest in stability, when in fact, it's the exact opposite. There is such a fear and clinging on to anything that has the potential to be stable by myself and my peers around me, but the external social, economic, and personal hardships are real threats to any semblance of a future.

Additionally, young people who consider themselves writers have to look for that identity now in a much larger world, since the Internet is at their disposal. In order to feel like they are writers, they look to an online community in order to publish and find validation, which is a daunting task as it is very easy to put your work out there to thousands and thousands of anonymous eyes who will and want to read (and even review) what you write. All of this is why I'm glad that the other article is Rebecca W. Black's "Online Fan Fiction, Global Identities, and Imagination," which discusses this online writing community, albeit a subset in the form of the fanfiction genre, that is directly related to youth culture and writer identity.

Black reiterates a lot of what Bean and Moni discuss in terms of the construction of identity in a contemporary society. However, Black delves more deeply into how online spaces, such as fanfiction.net, help build up this identity, especially in ESL/ELL youths. These online spaces provide opportunities for practicing not only creative writing, but for people to practice the structure of the English language in general. I mentioned in the Networked Narratives class during our discussion on fanfiction that one thing I remember from my time as an author on fanfiction.net was that there was a lot of writers who identified themselves as being from Singapore. I didn't realize the huge presence of ELL writers on a site was primarily in English, and was always impressed at their grasp and courage for putting themselves (and most importantly, their writing) out there; meanwhile, I struggled with putting myself out there, even though I DID have a grasp of the English language! Funny how that works!

I found a lot of my writer identity during those adolescent years as an author on fanfiction.net, kind of like how both articles suggest. I was able to practice and publish my writing, and people would respond/review in a manner that was constructive and kind. It helped build up my confidence and find my voice as a writer; even though it was not original fiction, it helped my exercise my writing muscles and let me explore the creative worlds I had stuck in my head that wanted to get out.

The community is definitely an important part to anyone who is looking for validation, especially as a budding writer, even in a space where you feel like these anonymous people are somehow your peers. These online communities made me feel more like a writer than if I didn't have them accessible to me, too. If I didn't have the ability to self-publish my work and get response by people I didn't know, I don't know how much of a real "writer" I would have felt like. Like I said, I got a weird feeling of legitimization, which is extremely important in any aspect of a young person's life, if you ask me.

Thus, while parts of identity construction in today's society seems to be unsure and maybe even concerning, there are definitely more opportunities and outlets for people to explore and find themselves, especially as writers and artists. Despite the negative stereotypes of the society and spaces millennials are growing up in, they are not as sheltered, as many people like to claim they are -- instead, they are at times more exposed than a lot of other generations during their age, and definitely find themselves in situations and questioning their identity in a more meaningful way, as hard as that can be in such a fragmented and curious society.

writing in today’s classroom

At the moment, writing is in a very transitional place in the academic world. Both articles point out the obvious rise and significance of writing in a digital space, as well as how the idea of writing today is not just confined to the words in a research paper. Writing has taken on a series of different identities, from social media posts to emails to even texting, and is more vocal and important than ever in today's society. Students are finding their voice in writing throughout all corners of social media and using their words to express their opinions rather strongly and eloquently on a variety of political, social, and personal subjects. 

However, it seems a lot of writing instructors in secondary and post-secondary educational are quick to dismiss the validity of writing in digital spaces. While some teachers are embracing and utilizing the technological evolution of writing, others seem indifferent in noticing how a twitter post can be just as valuable as an in-class writing journal. Amicucci's article, "How They Really Talk," addresses two different students who have used social media to explore and further their identities as writers with a wider, interactive audience full of peers. Both students serve as positive examples of how teachers can learn from the benefits of incorporating and validating digital writing in classrooms, as it is an intricate part of today's students' everyday lives. 

Addison and McGee also recognize the space of digital writing in the lives of students as they examine the future trends of writing in high school and in further levels of academia. They write that "teenagers may actually be writing more than ever but in a far greater variety of forms not normally recognized as part of their school or work experience," and that writing today may not be so much as a "'dreaded' activity" that is usually assumed (168). Again, students are using in a multitude of ways in their digital lives, but their probably subconscious interest and impressive amount of writing is not being taken advantage of but their instructors in an academic setting. In Addison and McGee's article, they also analyze quantitative data regarding what types of writing students do in classrooms. More "personal" and expressive works that could arguably deemed "passionate" had a much lower percentage overall (all less than 20%), such as creative writing, journals, and even web sites (156). Personally, I find those numbers horrifying! Teachers shrug off the importance of student writing that gives them more of a voice and potential creative "drive"; as such, if those kinds of writing are deemed "lower" than other types of writing, where does that leave digital writing on the totem pole? I'm sure instructors view a social media post as having no significance if they don't want to even encourage their students to express themselves through a piece of flashfiction.

While the change is gradual nationally across schools, digital writing needs to be recognized as a significant form of writing itself, and thus be utilized by teachers in classroom settings. Digital writing provides a space where students are able to find and express their voices more on subjects that mean more to them than whether or not Lance Armstrong should have his medals revoked because of "doping" (unless, of course, the student has that strong of an affinity for the cyclist). Teachers should see the value in digital writing, as opposed to viewing it as a waste of time or a heathen attack on the "traditional values" of writing in the academic world.

the reality of elitism

Elitism in academia is a terrifying concept for me to think about, if I'm being honest.

During my academic career, there has never been a moment where I have felt, "Ah, yes - I know everything there is to know about this subject, and no one can tell me otherwise." No matter how much research I have ever poured into a topic or interest in mine, I have always had some intellectual "doubts" and gaps after all was said and done - I never felt one hundred percent confident in saying I was ever an expert on anything. After writing an argumentative paper, I would never feel too sure about it because I could see the points of the other side, and consequently counter and poke holes in my own thesis. Where do people find ideas of such absolutism in their work? Even in objective facts, perspective is subjective while assessing and interpreting the significance of them.

In Davida Charney's article, "Empiricism Is Not A Four Letter Word," she touches on how scholars can be drowned in elitism when submerged in the "infallible" results of science and quantitative research. Charney mentions that one criticism of science in research is that it is a way to avoid "interpretation, [to] eliminate the human element of subjectivity ... and [to] go on misrepresenting the world as a manageable, fully determinate, and reducible to clear and accurate formulas" (571). By completely immersing yourself in the "elitist flashiness" of science, it seems like there is a possibility that we lose sight of the humanistic meaning in the data. While numbers and formulas are impressive, they are not able to critically think about and analyze the significance in the point of the research. However, this is not to say that scholars who are founded in critical thinking are on a high horse, either. Both sides have their guilt as elitist and are easy to discredit each other in terms of the validity of their research methods, which result in a stalemate and a wasted opportunity to collaborate. Instead, Charney encourages a healthy dose of both sides of the spectrum: scientific research is wonderful and effective, and the humanistic and critical analysis of it is what makes it all worth it, which makes complete sense. Additionally, no one should think that they are academically "superior" to anyone - there is no finality in research. If there was, I think that would eliminate the possibility of progress. Instead, scholars should always keep an open and grounded mind during their academic endeavors, so that they can continue to test and develop new theories and ideas to further their research.

"Out of Our Experience: Useful Theories" also speaks on a similar note to Charney's. The article discusses how teacher-researchers are always learning from their students and colleagues, and consequently testing out and comparing their theories to build their professional career. There are always new ideas to learn from and new perspectives to consider, and to be both a "good" teacher and researcher, they should always be expanding their academic boundaries and maintain a certain awareness in the effectiveness of their teaching. Resting on elitism, again, is extremely dangerous and personally crippling in their growth as a learning individual. Overall, I feel that it is always beneficial to maintain humility with knowledge and a certain open-mindedness as time goes on if you want to intellectually and personally better yourself.