Monday, April 18, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
This week, you'll continue on with course assignments listed under the "Week 10 Checklist" on your course calendar.
Keep in mind that I'm available to assist you as you continue to write and complete work for this class... be in touch if you'd like to schedule a meeting, or if you'd like to check in on grades.
Writing Tip of the Week
Don't Be Afraid to Write What's Real
Authenticity is one of the most likeable traits of excellent nonfiction writing. Readers love to feel that their writer is reliable, honest, and true-to-life in their depictions and persona. Because of that, it's important that you maintain a sense of who you are as you write about your life. There's no need to write like anyone but yourself, and no need to water down the language of characters that appear in your writing. Eventually, you'll learn to pare down excess on your own, or thanks to the advice of your readers and editors. If you do feel insecure about whether your topics, ideas, or language are offensive or otherwise problematic, feel free to check in with me and receive some feedback.
Great Hits from Week 8
Alyssa's "The Art of Persuasion"
Alyssa's tone in "The Art of Persuasion" created a sense of irony and satire that made this post delightful to read. The language in this post is objective and academic, yet the points themselves are humorous in context. I don't think we've seen satirical writing in this class yet, so it's exciting to read a first example. I especially love her point that persuasion is decidedly "Un-American". That claim is often thrown around in political arguments in ambiguous and emotional ways, so in this piece, it stands out as particularly satirical and funny. Well done, Alyssa!
Brandon's "Calm Persuasion: Don't Panic"
This post goes in so many directions that I had to re-read it three times... however, it's very amusing. I'd like to point out the potential that can arise out of this sort of unhibited freewriting. Towards the beginning of this post, Brandon reveals an opportunity to analyze the effects of the phrase "Don't Panic" in an original and associative way. Towards the end of the post, we are given an opportunity to meditate on the virtues of zombies. Where else do we get original topics like these if not through free-writing? :-) I could see Brandon taking any one of the ideas from this post and developing it into a quirky and fun final essay. Great work, Brandon!
Chelsee's "Hey Father..."
A few weeks ago, we read Chelsee's story about meeting her biological father for the first time. In this post, she develops just one aspect of the previous story into a vivid scene. We can appreciate the further developed characterization, and even the great photo at the end of the piece. Best of all, we have an opportunity to "hear" voices. Reading dialogue spoken by Chelsee's father allows us to get to know him even more thoroughly. It's an enjoyable post to read. Thanks, Chelsee!
Jamie's "One of Those Talks"
I'm impressed with Jamie's ability to turn dialogue into a sufficient story, with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Whereas the topic of the scene isn't necessarily original, her style of writing creates renewed interest. I like Jamie's lack of description as to context, character, setting, etc. There's a sense that the dialogue itself is sufficient, and that the reconciliation resolves the conflict of the piece enough to provide closure. Good job, Jamie!
Monday, March 7, 2011
Midway through the semester, I'm amazed by the pages and pages of writing you've created. Your Writer's Journals are packed with reflections about great examples of published creative nonfiction, and your blogs are full of stories, memories, thoughts, and ideas. I'm also grateful that you've connected so well in group response! This week, you'll meet even more of your wonderful classmates. Congratulations: these are the folks you're lucky enough to work with through the end of the semester. Enjoy it!!
Writing Tip of the Week:
Choosing Great Topics
You may have noticed, while reading Susan Orlean, that nonfiction essays are not always personal to the self, or modified by personal opinion. Sometimes, great topics are the ones we discover, which have nothing at all to do with us. Having a certain degree of objectivity can give us an advantage as we write... whereas subjects we're close to can sometimes be harder to tell (because it's difficult to leave details out, or tedious to write all details in), it can be much easier to manage sufficiency of information and detail (without over- or under-doing it) when relating topics that are less personal to us. For instance, Orlean has also written about orchid hunting, taxidermy, and what the life of a ten year old boy is like. What are some topics you'd like to explore? Are there any that are, perhaps, less personal to you, that engage you all the same? Widening your field of possibilities as you consider topics gives you an opportunity to speak, without always speaking about yourself. This can be a relief to writers of personal essays!
WEEK 7's GREATEST LICKS
Here are some phenomenal single lines from your writing.
Alyssa: "[The bar] is like a good date: low-key, inexpensive, and care-free."
Brandon: "[When the gates open], it's like popping a balloon; all of the pressure is expelled and people walk freely to the security checkpoints."
Chelsee: "Arizona State University sold their bookstore to an outside company for many reasons that I am too low on the pay scale to know."
Jamie: "You think you've got freeways where you come from? You should see the ones we have here."
Jesus: "I hate social gatherings because whenever I'm surrounded by people, I imagine that everyone has come together to celebrate my accomplishments, and I always end up leaving dissappointed, no accolades to show for my exhausting efforts at socialization."
John: "This writing is supposed to focus on others per the assignment directions but I must briefly describe my heroic measures."
Katie: "Before me sat an old and rough looking man. Tattered clothes, dirt stains, and a rainbow of paint stuck to him."
Kayla: "We had just come from mini-golfing, and Mike had proven to us all that baseball wasn't the only sport you can strike out in."
Kimberly: "To offer a perspective of the size and scope of Comic-Con... the widely publicized 2008 Democratic National Convention, held in Denver, and the Republican Convention, held in Minneapolis... drew crowds of approximately 50,000 visitors each. Comic-con annually draws two and a half times this many visitors."
Nynn: "Now I have to admit, when I orginally though of NASCAR, I thought of rednecks and beer as well as Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights..."
Matt: "The circus of vice was capped by an electric sky."
Miranda: "... as of late, [Rhianna] seems to be forcing her strength rather than actually finding it."
Nicola: "With my family there has never been enough men to do a lot of the hauling of the water or the chopping of the wood or gathering of the coal."
Rebecca: "Upon entering Rawhide, there is not much to see. One kicks up thick patches of dirt and first sees a board that is used for throwing knives, but never seems to be in use."
Skylar: "Not until I made this decision to grow up did I realize just how much I needed to grow up."
Leena: "From the eight row up, I can hardly see the teacher's aid and the professor, let alone what they choose to be pertinent information that goes up on the white board with a dying white-erase marker."
Great work, everyone!
Continue on with your calendar this week, and afterwards, have a very happy Spring Break!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
May your essays grow all the roots, leaves, and branches they need to become a perfect expression of yourselves. Good luck with revision!
It was a pleasure to read your rough drafts! I've finished offering my own review of all of your writing, and hope the notes you receive from me and others assist you to finalize your essay. Finish these up and post to the Final Drafts forum on Blackboard by Tuesday night. This essay is worth 20% of your final grade.
This week, you'll read writing by three of the most famous contemporary nonfiction writers: Dave Eggers, Susan Orlean, and Norman Mailer. You'll also complete two writing prompts: one for Tuesday, one for Thursday.
Next week, you'll be introduced to new peer groups. These will be the writers you work with through the close of the semester. I'll be matching you based on a sense of who might benefit from working together, and to that end, if any of you have requests about who you'd like to work with this time around, feel free to email me and let me know. I'll do my best to accomodate your requests.
Also, since we're about midway through the semester, feel free to email me for requests of mailed grade sheets (include a mailing address). I can photocopy your grade sheets and mail them off after midterm essays have been graded.