Final Writing Log: A Semester’s Journey

Bethany Herold

Professor Egger

ENGL 2060 E01

6 December 2015

Final Writing Log

Many people claim writing is an egotistical vocation, one filled with self-absorbed hours and demigod complexes. Every once in a while, authorship yields a certain feeling, a profit, or a changed life of another human being from which the writer can draw from and find the strength and passion to compose again. It’s also a time-consuming, heart-wrenching, and downright unrewarding endeavor, more often than not. I speak as though I have experienced either end of the spectrum, when in reality, my rookie-year writing career knowledge is rudimentary and limited to the advice and testimonies of the greats that I frequently place on a pedestal. Their techniques, products, and circumstances appear so far above mine, it seems unrealistic to even strive for a goal that rests upon a shelf so conveniently out of my reach. I have attempted to pacify my thirst for stories and truth by remaining content to read the works of Dickens, Lewis, and a great many others. However, their literary genius only seems to rekindle the flames I strive so fiercely to douse out.

My parents started reading to me while I finished cooking in the womb, I’m sure, because I popped out with an innately deep love of stories and the words which comprised them when strung together in particular fashions. I started memorizing the basic patterns of stories at the age of two, and eventually realized that memorization was unnecessary, for the letters at the bottom of the page eluded to a hidden code that, when deciphered, correlated with the illustrations above. Books, role-playing with my siblings, performing, and the outdoors, became all the entertainment I needed as a child. While there were other aspects of life and its activities that I enjoyed, I knew at a young age that I was all but obsessed with the idea of self-expression and uncovering new concepts through the vessel of stories. My fixation became evident through my interests in theater, musicals, acting out character games with my siblings, and of course, healthy amounts of reading and writing.

The creating of another world, time, or situation -even something as simple as looking at a concept from another perspective- provided me with a double-edged sword of both escape and discovery. I had endless characters conjured up in my mind that could be accessed at any given time, and a surplus of circumstances for them to experience. I also admired the non-fiction genre, and found myself relishing school reports and projects. I was even caught reading biographies and historical pieces during my free-time. Although my love of reading and writing never died away, I turned my attention to acting towards the end of my high school career. Performing allowed me to dive straight in the character; one of my favorite aspects of story-telling. While it took no small amount of courage, and though I loved the thrill of the camera lens and stage lights, I later came to realize that I cherished the moments spent writing about and unwrapping my character prior to jumping into a scene.

This brings me to the present: a twenty-four year old, belated college student who has already experienced a premature mid-life crisis or two. So why do I write.? Or aspire to make a living in such a romantic, but unrealistic line of work? I wish the answer was a simple one, something easily explained by my broken and condensed memoir to date, but life rarely reveals its greatest secrets while still in motion. I want to say I pursue this calling because I’m undeniably talented, and therefor I must share my well-endowed literary expertise with the world. Or because it’s a wise-career move filled with endless moneymaking opportunities. Perhaps even because writing runs in my family, so I might as well stick with something I have a genetic predisposition towards. Those answers all seem reasonable-or even better, compliment worthy. However, throughout these writing logs, I have come to find that the logical explanations aren’t always the best. It all boils down to a heart and soul matter, after all. For what is the point of a passion if your life essence is not inseparably intertwined with it?

I write selfishly, perhaps, because it’s a way for me to voice all the thoughts swirling around in my mind, as well as a way to leave a small mark in this mortal life. I also write selflessly, because I truly care to both alleviate and enlighten people, whether through fictional stories, personal testimonies, or indisputable truths. Most of all, at risk of sounding cliché, writing is something I feel called to do. I don’t know the details of where it will take me, just simply that it’s a road I’m meant to go down. I want to do more than make paycheck; I want to make an impact. My writing may touch thousands of people, and it may affect only one. Even if that one person is me, I hope and pray I will learn and grow from this craft, and if I fail, it won’t be from lack of effort or purpose.

Writing Log #1: My Relationship with Writing

“Go to your room!” my dad shouted. My ten year old arms crossed in defiance as I stomped off towards my bedroom, head held high. “You are not to come out until you have written me a paper explaining what you have done wrong, why it is wrong, and what you can do better next time,” he added. I slammed the door in response, and proceed to sit proudly on the foot of my bed for at least fifteen minutes. It didn’t take long for my protest to wear on me, and I reluctantly let my eyes settle on the imitation hickory writing desk angled beside the bedroom window. Various pens and pencils were placed intentionally in their holders, and a spiral bound notebook clad with a Garfield cover was laid directly in the center. I sighed as I sunk into the chair. My dad was not one to make idle threats, and expository writing assignments in lieu of conventional punishments were a favorite of his. At the time I loathed it, but looking back nearly fifteen years later, I see how moments like these planted seeds of intrigue in my life for the artistry of writing.

Exercises like these-and I use that term lightly-became vessels through which I could articulate difficult thoughts and emotions. It provided me with an awareness of focus, a sense of clarity, and ultimately, this feeling of being heard. After I spent my allotted time for resistance, I was forced to stare at the empty spaces between the light-blue lines until I picked up my writing utensil of choice and poured my thoughts onto paper. Even at that age, I knew writing required far more awareness and reflection than speaking. Like a window into my soul, all my thoughts were neatly organized and placed into a precise order, making even my irrational sentiments perpetuate some form of meaning. By the time I turned in my punishment papers, I not only had time to reflect properly on my wrongdoings, I also had also grown as a both a creative writer and critical thinker.

Throughout the rest of my primary education, I reveled in writing and the humanities. I wrote creatively on the side, and often found myself conjuring up stories in my head. The Lord alone knows how many hours I passed reading, and I will never regret a minute of my life spent nose deep in a novel of quality. I was below par in math, and mediocre when it came to the sciences, but massive reading and writing assignments were sources of pure joy. After graduation, I was hesitant about college primarily due to the fear of choosing the wrong major. Every decision seemed so finite then. I raced towards the arts, something I have always enjoyed, and tried my hand at studying acting and theater. Unfortunately, my stay in Los Angeles came to an abrupt end, brought upon by personal and financial afflictions, and so did my blossoming acting career. Defeated, I threw myself into a college education with hopes of gaining an elementary teaching degree. My heart wasn’t in it though, and that flame was quick to fizzle out. I felt hopeless for quite some time, distracting myself through other means and refusing to associate with any of my passions. Music, acting, and writing all became sources of shame. The things I once loved laid broken at my feet with my dreams.

The following January brought about some personal awakenings, and without going into much detail-for that is entirely an anecdote of it’s own-I realized all of my passions centered around this concept of self-expression and discovery. I loved acting for its ability to tell stories, and music for its manifestation of feelings. Writing, something I had loved all along, was able to encompass both of these qualities, and then some. Even if it didn’t make me rich or famous, I wanted further education as a writer. Words are a mere embodiment of a life, and I adore the follow quote by Mark Twain from his beloved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: “Words are only painted fire, a look is the fire itself. She gave that look, and carried it away to the treasury of heaven, where all things that are divine belong.” I adore it so much, in fact, it’s the title of this blog. How powerful it is to craft something that can accurately represent that fire, and carry on its meaning for generations to come. I don’t know where this adventure will take me in the end, but what I gain along the way will only help me grow as an individual. If I can benefit anyone through my writing, no matter how small, it will have done its purpose. So thank you for your inventive punishments, Dad. May their lessons impact me forever.

Writing Log #2: Writing and Reading Bodies

My insignificant complaints seem pathetic in their meager attempts to provoke sympathy as I read about the hardships writer and educator Georgina Kleege (see here) goes through on a daily basis. Even she, in her already impaired state, felt that her adversities were nothing in light of Helen Keller’s daily trials. She was still depressed though. What benefit could she possibly offer society? The answer is her unequaled perspective. Every aspect of her being crafted a one of a kind approach that no one else can offer. Perhaps these hindrances and inhibitions are actually what make us, and our writing unique. They are also what bring us together; this sense of mutual imperfection spread throughout mankind. Why else would we seek hope and enlightenment?

So how much does my female-middle-class-mostly-cacuasion-baptist-small-town-petite self fit into the scheme of things? Now I don’t have any obvious physical disabilities or hindrances, but I have my own demons, my own impediments that make it hard to get up some mornings. On those days where the sky is gray, the ground is cold and damp, my to-do list is never ending, and I wonder why my workplace doesn’t allow more sick days, I realize I love the result of the trial by fire. It’s a unique purifying process, and I doubt the literary greats would have written in a way that touch people for years to come had they not had their share of hard times. I also have a history-some things I regret, others I revel in-and it has given me my unique perspective on this ride we all share call life. People out there have it worse, this I know to be true, but that doesn’t make me feel better, because someone always has it better too.

Why can’t I come from a privileged home? Have things handed to me on a silver spoon? As I juggle a 40+ hour work schedule, take 12-15 credit hours of college education, and as of recent, plan a wedding, it takes every ounce of control inside of me to not make a snide remark when a well-to-do-peer complains of her stressful course load this semester. Keep in mind said peer has parents pay for her rent and tuition, so while she lives lavishly she can rest just as well knowing she’ll graduate bright-eyed and debt free. *cue cynical eye roll* Perhaps, though, that’s how others view my so-called struggles. I don’t starve, sleep in the cold, or scour for clean water. The grass is always greener, or so it goes. And maybe I’m a bit bitter because I want that life cushy life. Does this longing make me as eloquently descriptive as Dickens? As romantic as Keats? As complex at Austen? As witty as Twain? Probably not of its own accord, but it helps define my writing journey.

My features, traits, background, and upbringing also greatly influence the books I pick up and the thoughts I pen (or type) down. I have always been inclined towards the classics, but why? Do I simply wish I lived in a different time? I do love the simplicity, the lack of technology, the lands that were still left to be explored. I adore the class, the old buildings, the focus on the arts and humanities, the battles, the honor, the Earth untarnished by man’s corporatism. Perhaps I romanticize it all. But perhaps not. I love writing, and find the process of transferring thoughts from head to paper almost seamless. Is that an inborn trait, or something learned from a strong literary background? Thanks again, Dad.

I don’t know to what extent each of my created and attained traits play into my writing. Or how much my hometown on the Oregon Coast makes the beach feel like serenity for me. Or why I thrive off solitary moments. But everything that has led to this point, and everything that has yet to come, falls perfectly into an orchestrated plan and purpose. I’m excited to see how my body inside and out, as well as my soul, shapes the essence of my life and who I was meant to be. I’m thankful for who I am, who I was created to be, and look forward to my development as a writer and a person.

Writing Log #3: Portrait of a Process

How do outside forces influence or shape writing? Although there are many important elements of the writing process from technique to revision, the inspiration and critiques one receives from outside sources, both direct and indirect, play a large role in the final product. Different opinions on the origins of these exterior sources, as well as the weight of their impact, vary from writer to writer, but most seem to agree that their writing voice is largely shaped by experience and exposure. What follows are takes on the aforementioned aspect of writing by three distinctly different, but equally talented, writers.

Michael Luo is a domestic correspondent and investigative writer for The New York Times. He has written award-winning series and helped front multiple journalism investigations. Luo asserts the significance of keeping a “good writing” folder which contains notable articles worth studying and styles worth imitating. Every time he completes a piece that he feels is truly worthwhile, he “believe[s] some of that rubs off on [him], even if it is just inspiration.” Editors have also played a large role in Luo’s career, and he credits much of his growth as a writer to their critiques and direction. The habit of matching the interests and desires of given editors has made him more adaptable and well-rounded as a writer. This trained him to seek out stories that actually interest people, and has increased his generation of reactions and reader participation. Ultimately, outside forces have trained Luo to match the ever-changing flow of what intrigues readers at a given time and place.

Beverly Cleary is an award-winning children’s author, famous for beloved stories like Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Cleary started out working in a bookstore, and was deeply stuck by the stereotypical child characters in the children’s literature of her time. She constantly witnessed little boys and girls in stories undergoing an evolution into flawless and superior little humans. This was far from the truth in her eyes, and she sought out to create a character that was a more accurate depiction of childhood. Cleary loosely based one of her most memorable characters, Ramona, off a “rather impossible” child that lived in her neighborhood. She also drew many concepts from the influence of her own life, as well as stories in the local newspapers. Many names were even selected for her characters all because she overheard them while eavesdropping on conversations. Her fan-base even had some sway in the stories, as she chose to write a story about a boy with divorced parents after receiving a request from two little boys going through a similar situation. Cleary strove to keep her characters as real and accurate as possible, and always valued the voices and opinions of her readers.

Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the literary greats, and had written many successful award-winning novels and short-stories such as The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. He didn’t care as much for outside influence and opinions, and was more or less religious when it came to his writing habits and schedule. He did think very highly of certain authors like Twain and Shakespeare, and swore that reading the work of the great authors begot great thinking and therefor writing. Outside forces such as his work space greatly influenced his productivity, and he believed strongly in writing in the morning while standing up. He mentioned on several occasions that his most successful writing was completed while he was in love, hinting that adoration and acceptance freed him up and gave him confidence as a writer. Aside from romantic partners, select writers, and his editor, Hemingway felt that most outside influences were counter-productive and in some cases detrimental. He essentially believed it was best to limit the number of sources capable of influencing his writing.

For me, the answer is not black and white nor simple. I see truths in all of the perspectives of the mentioned writers. Like Luo, I know the importance of emulating good writing techniques and adhering to the interests of the readers. I appreciate Cleary’s uncanny awareness to real-life accuracy with her characters, and her tendency to write about less than desirable subjects like divorce, all while spinning it in a positive light for her young readers. Hemingway was wise in limiting the amount of people capable of influencing his work, and was just as selective with his schedule and customs. There is something to be learned from all three, and I have my own forces that influence and shape my writing as well. For me, it’s important that my writing be truthful; not just facts, per say, but also true to who I am and what I believe. I surround myself with those willing to be honest with me, but who are also reliable and trustworthy. I read often, and strive to always have a classic piece of literature at my side. Although it’s only one aspect of the writing process, outside forces play a crucial role that can set up a piece for success or failure. It’s commonly said that you are what you eat, and likewise your outside forces often become your writing. Surround yourself wisely.

Writing Log #4: Re-purposing Text

@jgarcia i promise to chill and care bout smll stuff #bigpicture

@bherold today u r my wifey, but also bff and guide #threeinone

@jgarcia ill stop trying to get ahead b/c u r da prize #mcm

@bherold cant forget everything u have done 4 mwuah #somuchgoodness

@jgarcia movies r the best with u #moviejunkies

@bherold so thankful god brought us here #meanttobe

@jgarcia lol ur accents tho, so many it makes me crack up #whatnationalityareyou

@bherold ur feelings come nmbr 1 & ill be kind #loveyoubae

@jgarcia lets cosplay together forever #nerdsforlife

@bherold protecting u from danger always & never eating gmos again lol #organic

@jgarcia im here for good times and bad #notafairweatherfriend

@bherold ill rub ur feet and massage ur back when ur feeling sick #getwellsoon

@jgarcia thnks for being patient w/me #wonttakeyouforgranted

@bherold dont be too ocd and I can help you b chill #dontworryaboutathing

@jgarcia i respect u for real! #madrespect

@bherold gonna b patient forever & be inspiring for ya 😉 #keepingyoureal

@jgarcia kk lol ill stop planning so much and be free #letsridebytheseatofourpants

@bherold well ill protect u & listen to ur thoughts #alwayshere

@jgarcia thnks for being the impulsive 1 and keeping it real # adventuretime

@bherold always here to help my lady #lovehertodeath

@jgarcia lets be kids forever & go on adventures #foreveryoung

@bherold im never gonna leave ur side no matter wat #stucklikeglue

@jgarcia u come first no matter wat #iloveyouevenmorethanstarwars

@bherold im free & my heart chooses u #onlyoneforme

@jgarcia other ppl will flake out but ive always got ur back #inyourcorner

@bherold u always make me smile and bring light to my life #myangel

@jgarcia faith hope & love are what I have 4 u and us sp dont wrry about a thing #truelove

@bherold we are better together #thanksjackjohnson

@jgarcia love conquers all things #ivegotyoubabe

@bherold keeping this promise forever #evendeathcannotstoptruelove

Since my husband and I got married only three weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to re-purpose our wedding vows for this assignment. I chose twitter as the genre because it seemed so inappropriate for my selected text. The first thing I altered was the placement of the vows because twitter is often a conversation. The vow format was originally sequential-my husband’s first and then mine-so I integrated our phrases to make it flow more like a dialogue. Next, I focused on making the tone significantly more casual by making the verbiage simple and adding abbreviations. I made punctuation nearly absent, and removed capitalization as well. The length of each response was shortened to fit a standard tweet. Aside from these changes, a genre attribute I really focused on mimicking was ending every phrase with a hashtag thought. I was also sure to begin each new response with an @ symbol to address who was speaking. Overall, the main attributes of this genre are brevity, poor grammar/punctuation, and hashtag prompts.

Writing Log #5: Conceptual Metaphor for Writing

The writing process is exploration.

How truly breathtaking would it be to find out you were the first individual to discover a new world? To make your mark on something previously unknown to man? To document your discoveries so all people could understand what you’ve experienced? The romanticism and adventure found in the accounts of Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, and Marco Polo is truly catching. Many of us have an innate desire to be apart of something fresh and exhilarating. The writer gets the opportunity to live moments like these as she cracks the seams of relevance. Therein lies the hidden beauty of writing, for it is truly an exploration.

The explorer begins his journey with weeks, months, and even years of preparation. It is an obvious task, but none the less crucial, to chose a destination. This is perhaps the most essential part. Where is he going and what is he hoping to discover? Weather must be forecasted so the explorer can plan for what may be in store. Routes are charted to ensure the swiftest path has been selected. Supply lists must be made, and then the actual items retrieved. The writer faces a similar start with each new project, for a writer’s preparatory phase can also be years in the making. The writer must decide what she wants to write about, and what the end goal is. She must predict what circumstances she will be writing under, and act accordingly. An outline is constructed to guarantee a clear path to the end product. Finally, a list of materials is fashioned, and the proper resources (books, articles, real-life accounts, etc.) are attained.

When the explorer has fully prepared, he selects his preferred mode of transportation to begin the journey. The explorer doesn’t think about the perfect way to do things; he simply acts on instinct and experience. Sometimes he goes for days at a time without refreshments, and other times he only makes it a mile or two before resting. Parts of the journey may move by seamlessly, and then some disastrous situations appear to all but end the exploration. The explorer might ponder giving up, but pushes onward in hope of finding the hypothesized discovery. The writer also chooses a mode of transportation for thoughts, whether it’s a journal, laptop, or voice recorder. She mustn’t fret over the details of editing in this phase, and instead relies on her instinct, prior education and studying to lead the way. Some bouts of writing will go on for hours, while other pieces are written in five-minute bursts of inspiration. The writing will flow out of the mind and onto the page so elegantly at times, while during other moments the writer contemplates throwing the project away.

Finally, the explorer reaches the end goal; a new place is found and discovery made! The explorer sits in awe for a moment, reveling in this new found glory. Then he documents everything. Whether drawing pictures of the local life, or writing pages in a journal, the explorer tries to bring back in thoughts the concept of the new place. It must be translated in a way that most, if not all, people will be able to see what the explorer saw. The explorer must inspire and persuade the audience to understand his point of view. This way he can enlighten them and prod them to reach higher. It also increases support so he may embark on another adventure again. The writer eventually reaches the end goal as well, and the draft is completed. She sits in satisfaction for a moment, proud of the hard work she’s accomplished. Then the writer must meticulously comb through the draft, editing and tweaking it where needed so she can convey her ideas to the intended audience. The writer wants the purpose of the writing to be understood, and for it to have relevance. If the writer is successful, people are informed and enlightened. The writer is not satisfied with one prosperous piece, however, for the writer craves the excitement of the exploration. And so the writing process begins again.

Writing Log #6: 6-word memoir

      1. “Under my thumb,” she whispered softly.

      2. Nightfall; creeping, waiting. A gunshot. Crickets.

      3. Don’t flinch from the unexpected opportunities.

      4. Final breath in. Final breath out.

      5. I still see those red carpets.

      6. The ocean air brings new clarity.

      7. Muscles ripple below. Horseback is freedom.

      8. Stop. Go. Follow the rules. End.

      9. Melted, oiled, crispy, aromatic, savory. Pizza.

      10. I can’t help but think why.

This form of creative nonfiction teaches the writer to present thoughts in a very concise manner. It appears easy at first, but it requires quite a bit of brainstorming and deep thinking. I believe it could be used as a great prompt for a longer piece, or even as a daily writing warm up. It’s a form of writing that nearly anyone can pick up, and definitely something that anyone can read and relate to. It also reveals a little something about the writer, as if they are sharing a secret. Finally, it encourages restraint by showing the writer that longer and more elaborate pieces of writing are not always needed to move the reader or get a point across.

On the flip side, this genre could get stale if it was all one was writing and reading. People need more answers sometimes, and many like detail and development. Not to mention the concept of a character is almost lost in the 6-word memoir. It allows little room for personal flare, simply because there’s not enough space for the writer’s personality to come out on the pages. The endless interpretations could be frustrating to say the least, and overwhelming at the worst. Finally, it’s just not as appreciated as other forms of writing, perhaps because the time and effort requirements are remedial.

Writing Log #7: Erasure of “Home” by Tammy Subia

I never understood why Dorothy was so eager to get home. Home was gray and lonely. During the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, people in Kansas were dying. The film came at the perfect time. Oz was bright, fun, magical. Yet all she wanted to do the entire time was go back home to Kansas. My long-time friend, Nicole, was the first one to live totally on her own. I’d always pictured the two of us, with Styrofoam cups of coffee in hand, strolling down the street of a small town, walking past the row of little shops until we reached the storefront of our own bookshop. I pictured us at home where I’d work on my own writing and she would be my first editor.

Twenty-two out of my twenty-four years have been spent in Connecticut living with my mother and grandmother. I couldn’t wait to get out of Enfield and find something more exciting somewhere else. My older brother Tony invited me to move to San Diego, California, to live with him after I graduated from high school, I jumped at the chance. My brother grilled us steaks and hamburgers outside on his patio for dinner. He showed me how to get to the mall, where we went to the movie theater on weekends and shared a large bag of buttered popcorn. I wasn’t in school and it took me quite a while to find a retail job, so it felt more like a long vacation than my new home. Within the year my plane touched down in Bradley Airport in the middle of the night. Now it’s five years later, and sometimes I feel embarrassed that I am twenty-four and still living at home.

Graduating from college seems like the perfect occasion for moving out, so why hadn’t I given it any serious thought until now? I think that Dorothy wanted to go home because Oz was new and often scary to her. Anywhere you go, you can make new stories. What matters isn’t the places you go, it’s the people you’re surrounded by. If Dorothy had just given Oz a chance, she would have been happy because the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion all loved her. I love my family, but friends can also become family over time. Though a part of me cannot imagine leaving my family, another part of me worries that I may soon resent them for keeping me here. Of course, I am free to make my own choice, but I still feel an obligation to stay with them. I know everyone would get along just fine without me, but I wonder how I would get along without them.

I’ve driven from the east coast of this country to the west one, and I’ve seen plenty of interesting places, but none of them felt like they could ever be my home. But I know now that’s what I’m searching for, a home – not an Oz. Oz is the place you go to when you need an escape from your day-to-day life. I realize now why Dorothy was never meant to stay in Oz. Kansas was her home. So how do you know when and where to go? There’s no red sand hourglass or a yellow-brick road to follow. I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do. I don’t have to live with Nicole; I could go anywhere. I don’t have ruby slippers, but I have glittery flip-flops and a yellow Ford Escape. As you get older, you learn how you can create your own home for yourself wherever you go. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also find an Oz to visit now and then when things get rough.

Writing Log #8: Writing for Aural Delivery

“What is it about the writing process that appears so daunting and evasive? There are countless books, web pages, and audio lectures dedicated to simplifying a procedure that is anything but simple in nature. There’s no syllabus, no code, and frankly, no standard to adhere to. Writers don’t have a fool-proof formula that, when followed, guarantees success. In fact, outside of having a beginning, middle and end, there are no regulations whatsoever for what constitutes the foundations of a flourishing story or paper. Perhaps, then, the most discouraging notion surrounding writing is freedom. It doesn’t matter how the writer gets there, as long as the story is good as an end result. And the audience determines the result, not the writer.

Keeping in mind the writing process is a gray zone with many exceptions and irregularities, there is still much to be gleaned from the tactics of successful writers. Like a story, the writing process is a three-part phenomenon with optional steps woven in. Invention is the first key component, for an idea is nothing without its conception. The story, argument, thesis, report-that idea-has to spawn from some original and imaginative thinking, as well as detailed study and observation. Well-known active steps include, brainstorming, note-taking, outlining, and prewriting. However, the innovative step can also include pleasure reading, people watching, meditation, free-writing, scene-setting, and character development. Ultimately, there’s no particular order or required amount of procedures in writing, but the inventive step as a whole sets the composition off on an often irreversible path to the end result.

The inventive idea without the experimental step leaves little room for testimony and enlightenment. This brings us to the next component which is most often referred to as drafting. Pretty or not, words must be arranged on the page. Many writers attest to a particular environment being key to success, while others swear upon the time of day, or even medium of the composition itself. Many say repetition is critical, for writing is a muscle like anything else. Methods can range from sporadic and free-flowing thoughts to organized arguments that strictly adhere to an outline. Some start at the beginning, others the middle, and there are those that prefer to lead with the end. Revision is one aspect that all good writers can agree on, or as Ernest Hemingway so eloquently put it, “The first draft of everything is shit.”

The final stage, and often the most crucial and devastating, is editing. After pouring one’s heart and soul onto pages, the writing must face concluding rounds of scrutiny that weigh its potential to be a finished product. The editing is sometimes completed solely by the writer, but more often is the case where there are many hands in the cookie jar. Most frightening of all is the possibility that the editing step can kick the writing back towards drafting, and even innovation. Yet, the writing will not refine and reach its full potential without this firing process, even if it must be performed one hundred times over. There is no time-frame for this craft, and no required amount of editors. But it must be reviewed to be worthy and deemed acceptable.

My proposed advice to others and myself as a newer and inexperienced writer-well aware that I have much to learn and grasp over my next few years of writing-is this: dive in. Fear is your worst enemy. Don’t be held hostage by contorted ideals of perfection; you’ll be rewriting regardless of how perfect your initial draft feels. Remember that the process of writing is much like daily meals; there is breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yet one is not confined to any given ideal of the meal, its presumed time, the amount consumed, the people with which the meal is shared, nor its anticipated location. Writing is no different. Follow the basics, but make it yours. Staying true to yourself is paramount, and actively pursuing your dream on a daily basis is your fuel. Dream big, and act accordingly.”

Rhetorically, for the auditory medium, I fist visualized an actual audience the entire time I was composes. I specifically imagined a larger room, much like the conference rooms used for TED Talks. This helped me to keep my approach more conversational, and also helped me to steer clear of jargon. Finally, I was forced to read my work aloud even more than normal, which helped me proofread and test fluidity. Link to Speech

References

Cleary, Beverly. “Transcript from an Interview with Beverly Cleary.”Reading Rockets. Reading Rockets, 2006. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/cleary/ transcript>.

Kleege, Georgina. “Blind Rage: An Open Letter to Helen Keller .” Sign Language Studies 7. 2 (2007): 186-194.

Plimpton, George. “Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21.” The Paris Review. The Paris Review. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4825/the-art-of-fiction- no-21-ernest-hemingway>.

Schulten, Katherine. “Why I Write: Q. and A. With Seven Times Journalists.” The New York Times. The New York Times. 17 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/ 10/17/why-i-write-q-and-a-with-seven-times-journalists/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1#ML>.

Subia, Tammy. “Home.” Home, Creative Non-Fiction by Tammy Subia. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://www.snreview.org/0210Subia.html&gt;.

Writing Log #7: Erasure of “Home” by Tammy Subia

Bethany Herold

Professor Egger

ENGL 2060 E01

20 November 2015

Writing Log #7: Erasure of “Home” by Tammy Subia

I never understood why Dorothy was so eager to get home. Home was gray and lonely. During the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, people in Kansas were dying. The film came at the perfect time. Oz was bright, fun, magical. Yet all she wanted to do the entire time was go back home to Kansas. My long-time friend, Nicole, was the first one to live totally on her own. I’d always pictured the two of us, with Styrofoam cups of coffee in hand, strolling down the street of a small town, walking past the row of little shops until we reached the storefront of our own bookshop. I pictured us at home where I’d work on my own writing and she would be my first editor.

Twenty-two out of my twenty-four years have been spent in Connecticut living with my mother and grandmother. I couldn’t wait to get out of Enfield and find something more exciting somewhere else. My older brother Tony invited me to move to San Diego, California, to live with him after I graduated from high school, I jumped at the chance. My brother grilled us steaks and hamburgers outside on his patio for dinner. He showed me how to get to the mall, where we went to the movie theater on weekends and shared a large bag of buttered popcorn. I wasn’t in school and it took me quite a while to find a retail job, so it felt more like a long vacation than my new home. Within the year my plane touched down in Bradley Airport in the middle of the night. Now it’s five years later, and sometimes I feel embarrassed that I am twenty-four and still living at home.

Graduating from college seems like the perfect occasion for moving out, so why hadn’t I given it any serious thought until now? I think that Dorothy wanted to go home because Oz was new and often scary to her. Anywhere you go, you can make new stories. What matters isn’t the places you go, it’s the people you’re surrounded by. If Dorothy had just given Oz a chance, she would have been happy because the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion all loved her. I love my family, but friends can also become family over time. Though a part of me cannot imagine leaving my family, another part of me worries that I may soon resent them for keeping me here. Of course, I am free to make my own choice, but I still feel an obligation to stay with them. I know everyone would get along just fine without me, but I wonder how I would get along without them.

I’ve driven from the east coast of this country to the west one, and I’ve seen plenty of interesting places, but none of them felt like they could ever be my home. But I know now that’s what I’m searching for, a home – not an Oz. Oz is the place you go to when you need an escape from your day-to-day life. I realize now why Dorothy was never meant to stay in Oz. Kansas was her home. So how do you know when and where to go? There’s no red sand hourglass or a yellow-brick road to follow. I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do. I don’t have to live with Nicole; I could go anywhere. I don’t have ruby slippers, but I have glittery flip-flops and a yellow Ford Escape. As you get older, you learn how you can create your own home for yourself wherever you go. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also find an Oz to visit now and then when things get rough.

References

Subia, Tammy. “Home.” Home, Creative Non-Fiction by Tammy Subia. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://www.snreview.org/0210Subia.html&gt;.

Tossed but not Sunk:Thoughts and Prayers for the Victims of the Paris Attacks

security-services-carry-away-injured-man-after-paris-attacks

“We lied down on the floor not to get hurt. It was a huge panic. The terrorists shot at us for 10 to 15 minutes. It was a bloodbath.”

Those words transmit a chill throughout my body as I read the eye-witness testimony of Julien Pearce, a reporter and survivor of the Bataclan concert hall massacre where a reported 112 people are confirmed dead. Today is November 13th, 2015, and at least 158 innocent and unsuspecting people were murdered today. Other survivors report the killers shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they picked off the victims in a style reminiscent of bird hunting. Slaughter. Hundreds Dead. Killers Still at Large. Terrorism Ties. ISIS. The headlines continue to cycle like a never-ending nightmare. As I return my eyes back to the breaking CNN report on my television, a young Frenchman sobs through his story, horrified by the bodies he had to crawl over as he rushed himself and his mother out of the concert hall to safety. People appear both numb and petrified as they huddle together on the streets of Paris, the emergency lights reflecting harshly off their foil blankets. President François Hollande has officially declared a state of emergency and closed France’s borders. I am safe in my Colorado Springs apartment, and the contrast from the screen to my living is surreal.

All the actions point towards terrorism, and many experts and officials suspect ISIS. No one argues that it was a well-coordinated attack, involving at least 12 people and up to 6 hit sites. According to a U.S. counterterrorism official, there is much concern over the unmistakable methodology and planning that would have been needed to pull off such a series of attacks. It raises questions for the rest of the world in regards to homeland security. In America specifically, there is talk of cutting off Visas for 1-2 years, banning immigration from certain Middle Eastern nationalities, and doubling FBI staff. Whispers of wolves in sheep’s clothing amidst the Syrian immigrants is also surfacing. I can practically smell the fear pouring through my television and laptop screen as I watch and contemplate the devastation unfolding before me.

My heart goes out, like many people around the world, to the victims and related family members affected by this massacre. Prayers and thoughts surround France, and will hopefully bring this nation some healing. It’s something we all hope will never happen, but because of a broken world, it inevitably does. It’s an attack on life as a we know it, and perhaps a glimpse into the dark corners of the future. There are no words to express the pain and anguish surrounding the situation, and maybe that’s for the best. Sometimes the world needs silence instead of people pretending to get it. It never ceases to amaze me how it takes such a sickening tragedy for people to put personal feelings, nationalities, and races aside for a moment to help other people. Must it always come down to disaster to reach revelation? Beauty from pain, they say. But at what cost?

I wish we could grab this moment and tattoo it into our very souls. Moments like these reveal the worst of humanity, the sin that plagues the world. But it also shows the best of humanity through people living selflessly and acting for others over themselves. It makes us realize how petty our differences, how ridiculous our polarized political parties, and how toxic our judgment can be. That is not the way life was intended. In this horror, we wake up. We take hold of what matters and recognize there’s something bigger than ourselves. It is fleeting, however, for the moment will fade and life will return to the way it was; revolutionary, perhaps, on a large scale of global impact, but with very minuscule changes in the lives of ordinary people who live thousands of miles away. I’ve been guilty of it. It’s like a blockbuster film that bloats ticket sales opening weekend only to be found in Redbox three months later. It’s painful. It’s scary. We don’t know how to help. It simply fades with time. For whatever reason, we often move on without any real change, both internal and external. This is our history. This is our future. This is our now. We can’t lose sight and become victims of apathy. We are called to more. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a powerful response in the face of such wide-scale adversity.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

It still rings true today; it always has and always will. We are not meant to live in fear, but in love. I pray that most people will recognize this sooner than later, even if it’s with tear-streaked cheeks pressed against the cold pavement. We can’t ever stop fighting for the ultimate cause: loving people unconditionally.

Writing Log #6: 6-word memoir

Bethany Herold

Professor Egger

ENGL 2060 E01

07 November 2015

Writing Log #6: 6-word memoir

      1. “Under my thumb,” she whispered softly.

      2. Nightfall; creeping, waiting. A gunshot. Crickets.

      3. Don’t flinch from the unexpected opportunities.

      4. Final breath in. Final breath out.

      5. I still see those red carpets.

      6. The ocean air brings new clarity.

      7. Muscles ripple below. Horseback is freedom.

      8. Stop. Go. Follow the rules. End.

      9. Melted, oiled, crispy, aromatic, savory. Pizza.

      10. I can’t help but think why.

This form of creative nonfiction teaches the writer to present thoughts in a very concise manner. It appears easy at first, but it requires quite a bit of brainstorming and deep thinking. I believe it could be used as a great prompt for a longer piece, or even as a daily writing warm up. It’s a form of writing that nearly anyone can pick up, and definitely something that anyone can read and relate to. It also reveals a little something about the writer, as if they are sharing a secret. Finally, it encourages restraint by showing the writer that longer and more elaborate pieces of writing are not always needed to move the reader or get a point across.

On the flip side, this genre could get stale if it was all one was writing and reading. People need more answers sometimes, and many like detail and development. Not to mention the concept of a character is almost lost in the 6-word memoir. It allows little room for personal flare, simply because there’s not enough space for the writer’s personality to come out on the pages. The endless interpretations could be frustrating to say the least, and overwhelming at the worst. Finally, it’s just not as appreciated as other forms of writing, perhaps because the time and effort requirements are remedial.

Analyzing Conceptual Metaphor: Life as a Journey in the American Dream

new-zealand-583174_640Life is one of the most vague concepts mankind could ever attempt to define, but interpreting it as a journey is a metaphor many people relate to and agree upon. This metaphor rings true in such a way that one’s entire existence and sense of purpose is infinitely woven into this idea of a journey. The only variants, then, are how each individual reacts to the twists and turns, and what they believe the purpose of the journey is. Therein lies the beauty and obscurity of this metaphor. Mankind keeps track of life through documenting its stages. Time is of the essence because this journey has an unknown end date. People, places, and opportunities come and go. Individuals often strive to find others who perceive the journey the way they do, or those who are simply willing to share it with them. Even one travel partner makes all the difference when facing hard times or getting lost in joyous moments. Still, others look only to an unseen guide, the orchestrator of the journey. Ultimately, a perceived end-goal is what drives everyone’s decisions on this path. Although the transition from our current existence to the next holds unfathomable events, this life is an inevitable, one-way journey blanketed in decisions that create finite consequences.

Life is often referenced as “beginning” with birth and “ending” with death. This metaphor surfaces in casual conversations, when people say things like “the baby arrived at 7:15 this evening,” “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” and “I am at a crossroads in my career.” People also try to grasp life’s more complicated aspects by viewing it through the lenses of a journey. This is reflected through spoken concepts of “moving on from things and people,” “setting out to be certain kinds of people,” and how lives can frequently “take us in unexpected directions.” All of these examples convey a sense of motion, signifying that life will progress and develop whether the individual wants to continue the journey or not. Even time delayers like detours (calling in for work due to an illness), layovers (going on a vacation), and customs stops (processing paperwork for buying a home) are still perpetuating people forward in life; the clock never stops ticking. People can choose how they want to react to the journey’s circumstances, but they cannot stop the events from occurring.

Like many journeys, life is a one-way ticket. Although one can stay at a given destination for a period time, departure is inescapable and there’s no returning to a place one has been. For example, a man may leave work one evening, only to return the next morning. This would at first appear contradictory to the initial claim, but is work truly going to be the same for the man that following day? Perhaps his outfit is different, the weather has varied, a new client arrives, a raise is granted, a write-up received, coffee is spilled all over the desk, or his lunch break is skipped. The point is that no matter how intently people try to regulate and control various aspects of their daily lives, evading any form of change, life only moves forward. There’s no way to replay a moment, no matter how accurately the elements are duplicated. On a more drastic end of the spectrum, no relationship will ever be the same either, nor will any year play out like the one before. All of this illustrates streamlined similarity to a path that is only traveled one-way, for there is no backtracking in life.

Travel experiences always vary from person to person, and detours are bound to occur whether one foresees them or not. The journey of life is nearly identical with regard to these characteristics, as no individual’s path is indistinguishable from another, and life never goes quite as anticipated. Each person’s journey through life brings them in contact with various individuals and situations that most people don’t experience. Even if two people were to have the exact same encounters at the exact same times, which is already near impossible, they would interpret them and react in different ways based on their unique characteristics, creating a variance between the lives. Nothing is constant in a journey except for the individual and the perceived end-goal. All long-term travel partners will depart at one point or another as people die, friendships fail, jobs force relocation, and lovers grow apart. In most cases, no person in this mortal life is consistently present from another individual’s birth to death. Others may partake in largely important chapters of a person’s life, as with marriage, but the journey still belongs solely to each individual.

This concept of life as a journey is so deeply embedded into the American mindset that it all but pollutes most conversations revolving around life and choices. It reflects a great deal about society’s view of this construct, specifically in light of the term appropriately coined “the American dream.” For one, it shows that people are prone to schedule out life, much like they would a journey. So much emphasis is placed on goals and achievements in the modern American society, and people are often found basing their life’s value on how efficiently they measured up to those preconceived notions of success. People keep track of important moments in their journey by highlighting landmarks, such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, seasons, and so on. Advice is sought out from the more experienced travelers, and people get their hands on as many resources as they can muster to be better prepared for what lies ahead. It also brings a sense of unity for mankind, as everyone is aware they are awaiting an inevitable passing from mortal life. People strive to prolong it, embellish it, and understand it, but the journey remains the same, and in a moment it will end. Some may pretend what does or doesn’t lie ahead is irrelevant, but one’s view of the end goal-consciously or not-sways what paths they choose and ultimately, their destination.

The metaphor of life as a journey has an intense impact on one’s state of mind. Nature as a whole is in a constant state of change; no creature is exempt. When mankind interprets that process as a journey, it simplifies that alteration in a way that resonates and implements a presence of lasting meaning. Much like a horse with the blinders removed, this concept allows people to be freed of a narrow mindset, one that is bent on present affairs only. It opens the door to grasp and even welcome life’s uncertainties instead of living in fear. When people realize they are not on this journey alone, though the choices are their own, they feel a sense of fellowship. Lastly, it allows one to embrace the concept of becoming as opposed to simply being, for lives are but a work in progress. The journey is not reviewed and reflected upon until the end, nor is a life finalized until physical death ensues. One mistake or decision does not define the remainder of a life.

The crowning significance, then, lies not in overcoming change itself, but in finding joy through the journey and discovering a rarely found hope in the destination. People use it to reason and rationalize where joy comes from. Some put the focus on success and earthly achievements. Others want to better society for the next group of people on the journey. Many relish time with loved ones. Still, others seek out instant gratification, living for the present. How one experiences joy, or lack thereof, is a part of their unique journey. But what they believe comes after the initial journey defines the essence of their life. The answer lies ahead then. Perhaps J. R. R. Tolkien said it best in part three of his beloved Lord of the Ring trilogy, when he wrote the following:

“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.”

Society cannot prove where each individual’s life events will lead, but people can live in an enlightened state by viewing this time on Earth as a metaphorical adventure, seeking joy and love, and fixing their eyes on what lies ahead of the journey. The rest will follow suit.

References

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Print.

Writing Log #5: Conceptual Metaphor for Writing

Bethany Herold

Professor Egger

ENGL 2060 E01

17 October 2015

Writing Log #5: Conceptual Metaphor for Writing

The writing process is exploration.

How truly breathtaking would it be to find out you were the first individual to discover a new world? To make your mark on something previously unknown to man? To document your discoveries so all people could understand what you’ve experienced? The romanticism and adventure found in the accounts of Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, and Marco Polo is truly catching. Many of us have an innate desire to be apart of something fresh and exhilarating. The writer gets the opportunity to live moments like these as she cracks the seams of relevance. Therein lies the hidden beauty of writing, for it is truly an exploration.

The explorer begins his journey with weeks, months, and even years of preparation. It is an obvious task, but none the less crucial, to chose a destination. This is perhaps the most essential part. Where is he going and what is he hoping to discover? Weather must be forecasted so the explorer can plan for what may be in store. Routes are charted to ensure the swiftest path has been selected. Supply lists must be made, and then the actual items retrieved. The writer faces a similar start with each new project, for a writer’s preparatory phase can also be years in the making. The writer must decide what she wants to write about, and what the end goal is. She must predict what circumstances she will be writing under, and act accordingly. An outline is constructed to guarantee a clear path to the end product. Finally, a list of materials is fashioned, and the proper resources (books, articles, real-life accounts, etc.) are attained.

When the explorer has fully prepared, he selects his preferred mode of transportation to begin the journey. The explorer doesn’t think about the perfect way to do things; he simply acts on instinct and experience. Sometimes he goes for days at a time without refreshments, and other times he only makes it a mile or two before resting. Parts of the journey may move by seamlessly, and then some disastrous situations appear to all but end the exploration. The explorer might ponder giving up, but pushes onward in hope of finding the hypothesized discovery. The writer also chooses a mode of transportation for thoughts, whether it’s a journal, laptop, or voice recorder. She mustn’t fret over the details of editing in this phase, and instead relies on her instinct, prior education and studying to lead the way. Some bouts of writing will go on for hours, while other pieces are written in five-minute bursts of inspiration. The writing will flow out of the mind and onto the page so elegantly at times, while during other moments the writer contemplates throwing the project away.

Finally, the explorer reaches the end goal; a new place is found and discovery made! The explorer sits in awe for a moment, reveling in this new found glory. Then he documents everything. Whether drawing pictures of the local life, or writing pages in a journal, the explorer tries to bring back in thoughts the concept of the new place. It must be translated in a way that most, if not all, people will be able to see what the explorer saw. The explorer must inspire and persuade the audience to understand his point of view. This way he can enlighten them and prod them to reach higher. It also increases support so he may embark on another adventure again. The writer eventually reaches the end goal as well, and the draft is completed. She sits in satisfaction for a moment, proud of the hard work she’s accomplished. Then the writer must meticulously comb through the draft, editing and tweaking it where needed so she can convey her ideas to the intended audience. The writer wants the purpose of the writing to be understood, and for it to have relevance. If the writer is successful, people are informed and enlightened. The writer is not satisfied with one prosperous piece, however, for the writer craves the excitement of the exploration. And so the writing process begins again.

Writing Log #4: Re-purposing Text

Bethany Herold

Professor Egger

ENGL 2060 E01

11 October 2015

Writing Log #4: Re-purposing Text

@jgarcia i promise to chill and care bout smll stuff #bigpicture

@bherold today u r my wifey, but also bff and guide #threeinone

@jgarcia ill stop trying to get ahead b/c u r da prize #mcm

@bherold cant forget everything u have done 4 mwuah #somuchgoodness

@jgarcia movies r the best with u #moviejunkies

@bherold so thankful god brought us here #meanttobe

@jgarcia lol ur accents tho, so many it makes me crack up #whatnationalityareyou

@bherold ur feelings come nmbr 1 & ill be kind #loveyoubae

@jgarcia lets cosplay together forever #nerdsforlife

@bherold protecting u from danger always & never eating gmos again lol #organic

@jgarcia im here for good times and bad #notafairweatherfriend

@bherold ill rub ur feet and massage ur back when ur feeling sick #getwellsoon

@jgarcia thnks for being patient w/me #wonttakeyouforgranted

@bherold dont be too ocd and I can help you b chill #dontworryaboutathing

@jgarcia i respect u for real! #madrespect

@bherold gonna b patient forever & be inspiring for ya 😉 #keepingyoureal

@jgarcia kk lol ill stop planning so much and be free #letsridebytheseatofourpants

@bherold well ill protect u & listen to ur thoughts #alwayshere

@jgarcia thnks for being the impulsive 1 and keeping it real # adventuretime

@bherold always here to help my lady #lovehertodeath

@jgarcia lets be kids forever & go on adventures #foreveryoung

@bherold im never gonna leave ur side no matter wat #stucklikeglue

@jgarcia u come first no matter wat #iloveyouevenmorethanstarwars

@bherold im free & my heart chooses u #onlyoneforme

@jgarcia other ppl will flake out but ive always got ur back #inyourcorner

@bherold u always make me smile and bring light to my life #myangel

@jgarcia faith hope & love are what I have 4 u and us sp dont wrry about a thing #truelove

@bherold we are better together #thanksjackjohnson

@jgarcia love conquers all things #ivegotyoubabe

@bherold keeping this promise forever #evendeathcannotstoptruelove

Since my husband and I got married only three weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to re-purpose our wedding vows for this assignment. I chose twitter as the genre because it seemed so inappropriate for my selected text. The first thing I altered was the placement of the vows because twitter is often a conversation. The vow format was originally sequential-my husband’s first and then mine-so I integrated our phrases to make it flow more like a dialogue. Next, I focused on making the tone significantly more casual by making the verbiage simple and adding abbreviations. I made punctuation nearly absent, and removed capitalization as well. The length of each response was shortened to fit a standard tweet. Aside from these changes, a genre attribute I really focused on mimicking was ending every phrase with a hashtag thought. I was also sure to begin each new response with an @ symbol to address who was speaking. Overall, the main attributes of this genre are brevity, poor grammar/punctuation, and hashtag prompts.